Super Bowl-winning coaches Mike Shanahan and Mike Holmgren highlight a group of 24 seniors, coaches and contributors selected as finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2023.
Bob Kuechenberg, a durable guard during the Miami Dolphins’ championship seasons, was also among the group while Mark Clayton, who has the second-most receiving yards in Dolphins history, fell short of becoming a finalist. Kuechenberg and Clayton were among 54 semifinalists named in the beginning of July.
Kuechenberg was a six-time Pro Bowl selection who died at 71 in 2019. He missed only five games of the 201 the Dolphins played in the regular season during his career, and he started the 1974 Super Bowl against the Minnesota Vikings wearing a cast on an arm he fractured in December of that regular season. A month later, Kuechenberg and company opened big holes for Larry Csonka in Houston and Miami rolled 24-7 to complete a 32-2 two-year run (a .941 win percentage) with two NFL titles, unmatched in league history for two seasons.
Kuechenberg was an eight-time Hall finalist in regular voting, with his final turn getting turned away on the final cut being in 2009. No other player who has been a finalist as many as eight times has been denied enshrinement in Canton, Ohio.
Clayton, who was an eighth-round pick in the 1983 draft that brought the Dolphins Dan Marino, had five seasons of at least 1,000 yards receiving and four where he had at least 10 touchdowns. His 18 receiving scores in 1984 was an NFL record and stood until 1987 when Jerry Rice scored 22 times through the air in only 12 games during that strike-shortened season. Clayton made five Pro Bowls.
Shanahan, who led the Denver Broncos to consecutive Super Bowl titles, and Holmgren, who won with the Green Bay Packers, are joined by 10 other coaches/contributors, including New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and former Cleveland Browns/Baltimore Ravens owner Art Modell.
The list of 12 former players includes four-time Pro Bowl quarterback Ken Anderson and five-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Sterling Sharpe.
The 12-person Seniors Committee will meet Aug. 16, and each committee member will present one finalist. The committee’s final vote will send three Seniors to the full 49-person Selection Committee for consideration at its annual meeting in early 2023. Each of those three could be elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame at that meeting.
Expansion of the Seniors pool to three for possible election to the Hall was approved earlier this year for the Classes of 2023, 2024 and 2025.
The remaining list of players: linebackers Randy Gradishar, Maxie Baughan, Tommy Nobis and Chuck Howley; two-way player Cecil Isbell; defensive linemen Joe Klecko and cornerbacks Eddie Meador, Ken Riley and Everson Walls.
The remaining list of coaches/contributors: television executive and producer Roone Arledge; coach Don Coryell; front-office executive Frank “Bucko” Kilroy; coach Buddy Parker; coach Dan Reeves; Steelers vice president Art Rooney Jr.; coach Clark Shaughnessy; and long-time executive John Wooten.
Information from The Associated Press contributed to this story.