HOUSTON (AP) — It seems that one word is commonly used by candidates for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
LaDainian Tomlinson says it. So does Jason Taylor, and Tony Boselli.
Throw in the rest of the 18 finalists, too.
On Saturday night, at the "NFL Honors" TV show when The Associated Press will announce its NFL individual award winners, the nation will learn who comprises the hall's class of 2017. One guarantee: whether they are in or out, they will be humbled by their inclusion in the process.
"I've never really put myself in their league," says defensive end Jason Taylor, who starred with the Dolphins and made the NFL's All-Decade Team of the 2000s. "It's really, really cool to be mentioned with those guys. It humbles you."
Taylor, who now hosts a program on SiriusXM's NFL Radio, spent portions of his 15 pro seasons being humbled by Tomlinson. So were most defenders in the league as the Chargers and Jets standout won an MVP award, two rushing titles, and set a record with 31 touchdowns and 186 points in 2006 on his way to the same all-decade squad.
"I'm lost for words when I think about the Hall of Fame," Tomlinson said. "I'm a small-town kid and no one that I ever knew went to the Hall of Fame. No one that I grew up watching, being around, had ever made it to the Hall of Fame or even was considered to be a Hall of Famer.
"And so just thinking about that, thinking about a little kid from a small country town possibly, you know, going to the Hall of Fame, it chokes me up."
Taylor, Tomlinson and former Eagles safety Brian Dawkins — yes, also a member of that all-decade team — are first-year eligibles.
Also on the ballot that a panel of 46 media members and two former players already in the hall, James Lofton and Dan Fouts, will consider are: quarterback Kurt Warner; running back Terrell Davis; receivers Isaac Bruce and Terrell Owens; tackles Joe Jacoby and Tony Boselli; center Kevin Mawae; guard Alan Faneca; kicker Morten Andersen; cornerback Ty Law; and safety John Lynch.
Also on the ballot are former Cardinals and Chargers coach Don Coryell, an offensive mastermind; senior candidate Kenny Easley, one of the hardest-hitting and versatile safeties the NFL has seen; and contributors Paul Tagliabue, the former league commissioner, and Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.
Among their credentials, Andersen is the league's career scoring leader and played for 25 seasons. Warner won a Super Bowl and two league MVP awards. Davis rushed for more than 2,000 yards in a season and owns a regular-season and Super Bowl MVP honor. Boselli, Faneca and Mawae were the premier players at their positions on the O-line for years.
"It feels like there are people that feel pretty strongly that I deserve to be in there. That is humbling that there are people that feel that strongly," Boselli says.
"You look at that list of guys, 15 guys, and those other 14, I can make an argument for every one of them to be in the Hall of Fame. You don't get this far, get to the next stage, and it should be hard. There's barely over 300 guys in the Hall of Fame. There's a very small group of individuals to be enshrined, and the process should be tough."
It is. A candidate must receive 80 percent positive votes from the selectors on hand, with a minimum of four inductees and a maximum of eight.
The class of 2017 will be inducted into the Canton, Ohio, shrine on Aug. 5.
AP Sports Writer Mark Long contributed.
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