Two stalwarts from the Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders and a trio of San Francisco 49ers legends are among the 25 players named Wednesday as semifinalists for the modern-era candidates for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Oakland Raiders.com posted the list that includes former Raider greats Tim Brown and Steve Wisniewski as well as former 49ers owner Edward DeBartolo Jr. and two players from the 1980s era Super Bowl championship squads, Roger Craig and Charles Haley.
For Wisniewski, this is the first time since he’s been up for consideration that he’s advanced to the semifinalist stage.
Brown has been a finalist each of the last four years, but has not received the votes necessary for induction yet. Haley is also a four-time finalist, DeBartolo has been a finalist twice before and Craig was a finalist in 2010.
Wisniewski played 13 years for the Raiders in both Los Angeles and Oakland from 1989-2001. He is a two-time All-Pro who was selected for eight Pro Bowls, including six straight from 1990-95. After starting at right guard as a rookie in 1989, he spent the rest of his career anchoring the left guard position, starting 206 games. He was a second-round pick by the Dallas Cowboys out of Penn State in 1989 and was traded on draft day to the Raiders. He also served as assistant offensive line coach for Hue Jackson with the Raiders in 2011 and his nephew, Stefen Wisniewski, is currently the Raiders’ starting center.
Brown spent 16 of his 17 NFL seasons with the Silver and Black, beginning in 1988 when the Raiders drafted the Notre Dame Heisman Trophy winner sixth overall. He played 240 games with the Raiders in L.A. and Oakland and is the franchise’s all-time leader in receptions (1,070), receiving yards (14,734) and touchdown receptions (99). He also holds franchise single-season records with 104 catches and 1,408 receiving yards in 1997. But he is also the franchise’s most accomplished punt returner, with 320 returns and 3,272 yards—both career franchise records—and his three punt return touchdowns ties him with George Atkinson, Johnnie Lee Higgins, Claude Gibson and Philip Buchanon for the most in franchise history. He is one of 13 Raiders all-time to return a kickoff for a touchdown.
Brown played his final season in 2004 with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers before retiring. He was named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s All-1990s team as a second-team member and was selected for nine Pro Bowls. His 1,094 career receptions and 14,934 receiving yards are fifth all-time in NFL history and his 100 touchdown catches ties him with Steve Largent for seventh all-time.
Craig played eight of his 11 years with the 49ers from 1983-90 and also played for the Los Angeles Raiders in 1991 and the Minnesota Vikings in 1992-93. A second-round pick out of Nebraska in 1983, Craig made an impact first as a fullback in Bill Walsh’s West Coast offense and later moving to halfback. He was an All-Pro in 1988 when he rushed for 1,502 yards and also caught 76 passes, leading the NFL with 2,036 yards from scrimmage and scoring 10 touchdowns for the eventual Super Bowl champs. He was named Offensive Player of the Year that year and was a four-time Pro Bowler and a second-team selection for the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s All-1980s team.
Craig’s 1,502 yards in 1988 was a franchise single-season record that stood for 10 years until it was broken by Garrison Hearst in 1998. He is third on the franchise’s all-time rushing list with 7,064 yards and 50 rushing touchdowns. As a pass catcher, his 92 receptions and 1,016 receiving yards in 1985 are the most in club history by a running back and Craig is one of only two running backs in NFL history to rush for and catch passes for more than 1,000 yards in a single season, along with LaDainian Tomlinson. His 508 receptions rank third in franchise history and his 66 total touchdowns are fifth.
Haley has more Super Bowl titles as a player than anyone in NFL history, earning two rings with the 49ers and three more with the Dallas Cowboys. Haley spent eight of his 13 seasons in San Francisco, beginning in 1986 when he was a fourth-round pick out of James Madison. He played with the 49ers through the 1991 season, then returned from retirement in 1998-99. He was an All-Pro for the 49ers in 1990 and made three Pro Bowls as a Niner. With 66.5 career sacks, he is second to Bryant Young in franchise history.
DeBartolo stewarded the most successful era in franchise history, with five Super Bowl titles during his 24 years as owner from 1977-2000. The team won 13 division titles while he was owner.
Also on the list of semifinalists is Kevin Greene, who played linebacker for the 49ers in 1997, his final NFL season.