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Steelers defensive coordinator a HOF finalist

Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau is one step away from the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Former Steelers Pro Bowl center Dermontti Dawson and assistant coach Russ Grimm are, too.

The three were among 17 former players named finalists Friday, a group that included first-time nominees Jerry Rice — the NFL's all-time leader receiver — and Emmitt Smith — the all-time leader rusher.

LeBeau was a three-time Pro Bowler and intercepted 62 passes in his 14-year career as an NFL cornerback for the Detroit Lions. He and former Denver Broncos running back Floyd Little are the senior committee nominees.

Dawson — who played 13 seasons on the Steelers offensive line, was a six-time first-team All-Pro selection and played in the Super Bowl XXX loss to the Dallas Cowboys — is a finalist for the second consecutive year.

Grimm is a Southmoreland graduate, former Pitt offensive lineman and Steelers assistant who spent 11 seasons as part of the Washington Redskins' famed "Hogs" offensive line and is a finalist for the third time in the past four years.

A final candidate must get 80 percent of the voting by a 44-member panel on Feb. 6, the day before the Super Bowl, to make the Hall. A minimum of four and a maximum of seven inductees will be chosen.

Three-time Super Bowl champions Rice and Smith are considered locks for enshrinement. Rice finished his career with 1,549 catches for 22,895 yards and 197 touchdowns, far ahead of anybody else in all three categories. Smith rushed for 18,355 yards and 164 touchdowns.

The finalists

Tim Brown, wr-kr, L.A./Oak, TB

Cris Carter, wr, Phi, Min, Mia

Don Coryell, coach, Stl (Cardinals), S.D.

Roger Craig, rb, S.F., L.A. (Raiders), Min

Dermonti Dawson, c, Steelers

Richard Dent, de, Chi, S.F., Ind, Phi

Russ Grimm, g, Was

Charles Haley, de-lb, S.F., Dal

Rickey Jackson, lb, N.O., S.F.

Cortez Kennedy, dt, Sea

Dick LeBeau, cb, Det

Floyd Little, rb, Den

John Randle, dt, Min, Sea

Andre Reed, wr, Buf, Was

Jerry Rice, wr, S.F., Oak, Sea

Shannon Sharpe, te, Den, Bal

Emmitt Smith, rb, Dal, Ari

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