Dick Vermeil, who guided the Eagles to their first Super Bowl appearance and later won a Super Bowl with the St. Louis Rams, is one of eight coaching finalists selected by a special panel for consideration as part of the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s class of 2020.
As part of its celebration of the 100th anniversary of the NFL, the Hall has expanded the number of inductees this season to include 10 senior players (players who last played more than 25 years ago), three contributors and two head coaches. The usual maximum five modern-era players also will be selected.
In addition to Vermeil, two former Eagles players — wide receiver Harold Carmichael and lineman Al Wistert — are among the 20 senior player finalists.
Carmichael, a four-time Pro Bowler and a member of the league’s All-Decade team of the ‘70s, played for the Eagles from 1971 through 1983. He is the Eagles’ all-time leader in receptions (589), receiving yards (8,978) and touchdowns (79).
Wistert, who played for the Eagles from 1943 through ’51, was a four-time All-Pro who was the starting right tackle on their back-to-back NFL-championship teams in 1948 and ’49. Wistert died three years ago at age 95.
Philadelphia native Steve Sabol, the late president of NFL Films, is one of 10 contributor finalists. Sabol passed away in 2012, just a year after his father, the founder of NFL Films, was inducted into the Hall of Fame.
The coaching, senior and contributor finalists were selected by a separate panel from the one that votes on the modern-era candidates. That panel will hold a reduction vote in January. The people they select then will be voted on by the Hall’s regular 48 selectors.
But there’s a twist, which seems to be motivated by the league’s desire to get former commissioner Paul Tagliabue, who is one of the 10 contributor finalists, into the Hall of Fame after three previous rejections.
The 10 seniors, two coaches and three contributors all will be voted on as a group in a single yes-or-no vote. In other words, they all have to go in or none go in.
The other seven coaching finalists along with Vermeil are Mike Holmgren, Jimmy Johnson, Tom Flores, Bill Cowher, Don Coryell, Buddy Parker and Dan Reeves.
The 18 other senior finalists with Carmichael and Wistert are Cliff Branch, Jimbo Covert, Roger Craig, Bobby Dillon, LaVern Dilweg, Ox Emerson, Randy Gradishar, Cliff Harris, Winston Hill, Cecil Isbell, Alex Karras, Verne Lewellen, Tommy Nobis, Drew Pearson, Donnie Shell, Duke Slater, Mac Speedie and Ed Sprinkle.
The other eight contributor finalists in addition to Sabol and Tagliabue are former owners Bud Adams (Houston/Tennessee), Ralph Hay (Canton Bulldogs), Clint Murchison (Cowboys) and Art Modell (Browns/Ravens); personnel executives George Young and Bucko Kilroy; referee Art McNally; and Seymour Siwoff, the president of the Elias Sports Bureau.