CANTON, Ohio — Curtis Martin, Jerome Bettis and Marshall Faulk, three of the top 10 rushers in NFL history, are among 26 semifinalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s class of 2011.
Two other star running backs, Terrell Davis and Roger Craig, are on the list released Sunday.
Martin retired from the New York Jets as the No. 4 overall rusher with 14,101 yards in 11 seasons. One of the most consistent backs of his era, he ran for 1,000 yards in 10 straight seasons.
Bettis ranks fifth at 13,662 yards in 13 seasons, three for the Rams and a decade with the Steelers, with whom he won the 2006 Super Bowl in his final game.
Faulk is 10th in rushing with 12,279 yards for the Colts and Rams and won the 2000 Super Bowl with St. Louis. A a prime receiver out of the backfield, Faulk was the 2000 NFL MVP.
Davis also was a league MVP, in 1998 with Denver, and won two Super Bowls with the Broncos. Craig won Super Bowls with San Francisco in 1985, 89 and ‘90.
Cornerback Deion Sanders also is on the list and, like Martin, Bettis and Faulk, is in his first year of eligibility. Sanders scored nine times on interceptions, also played offense at times, and is a former major league baseball player. He won the 1995 Super Bowl with San Francisco and the 1996 game with Dallas.
Top receivers Cris Carter, Tim Brown and Andre Reed are among the semifinalists, along with tight end Shannon Sharpe; offensive linemen Willie Roaf and Dermontti Dawson; defensive linemen/linebackers Charles Haley, Chris Doleman and Kevin Greene; defensive tackle Cortez Kennedy; defensive end Richard Dent; cornerbacks Aeneas Williams and Lester Hayes; punter Ray Guy; former Commissioner Paul Tagliabue; former Browns and Ravens owner Art Modell; former 49ers owner Ed DeBartolo Jr.; former Giants general manager George Young; former Cardinals and Chargers coach Don Coryell; and NFL Films originator Ed Sabol.
The list will be cut to 17, including senior committee nominees Chris Hanburger, a Redskins linebacker from 1965-78, and Les Richter, a Rams linebacker from 1954-62. Between four and seven enshrinees — no more than five modern-day nominees can make it — will be announced Feb. 5, the day before the Super Bowl.
The actual enshrinement will be in August.