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2012 Pro Football Hall Of Fame: Bill Parcells Headlines The Class

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Bill Parcells and Will Shield are the first-year eligible candidates for the 2012 Pro Football Hall of Fame. The voters will decide on Saturday the 2012 class of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

The 2012 Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremony won't take place until August, but on Saturday afternoon we'll find out the candidates who will be enshrined into Canton. Forty-four voters will meet in a hotel on Saturday before the Super Bowl and state their case for the next class in the Hall.

The 2012 candidates include:

Jerome Bettis, Tim Brown, Jack Butler, Cris Carter, Dermontti Dawson, Edward DeBartolo, Jr., Chris Doleman, Kevin Greene, Charles Haley, Cortez Kennedy, Curtis Martin, Bill Parcells, Andre Reed, Willie Roaf, Will Shields, Dick Stanfel, and Aeneas Williams.

Parcells and Shields are your first-year eligible candidates while Butler and Stanfel are the Senior era nominees. Candidates need 80 percent of the vote to get in which means just nine "no" votes would eliminate them.

Best Chance Of Getting In: Bill Parcells

The former Giants, Patriots, Jets and Cowboys coach is considered the early favorite to get inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday afternoon. He is technically a first-time eligible candidate but he was on the ballot before the Hall of Fame required a candidate to be out of the game for five seasons. It's hard to determine how the voters will view him on the first year. Is he the coach that is 10th all-time in wins and took four teams to the playoffs? Or is he the guy that ruffled some feathers with the media who's voting him in?

The best thing you can say about Parcells is that he's been a winner everywhere he's been. He started his NFL head coaching career with the New York Giants in 1983 and won two Super Bowls in eight seasons. He then took the reigns of the New England Patriots going to the Super Bowl once in four seasons. From there, he became the head coach of the New York Jets and won a playoff game with them. His last stop was Dallas, where he coached the Cowboys to two playoff appearances in four years. He finishes his career with a 172-130 coaching record.

It's A Crapshoot From There

After Parcells, it's very difficult to handicap who will get in next. There are a number of possibilities but to me many of the candidates are similarly on the bubble.

A couple of receivers, Andre Reed and Cris Carter, could get in this year with no real locks. Reed and Carter have been among the biggest Hall of Fame debates in recent years because it's difficult to compare the numbers of the receivers in this era versus those in previous eras due to the passing game surge we've seen. You also have to wonder when former Raiders receiver Tim Brown will get in.

You have a couple offensive linemen: Willie Roaf and Will Shields. Roaf played for the Saints and Chiefs and goes down as one of the best left tackles we've ever seen. Shields started the second game of his career and never missed another game.

Eddie DeBartolo, the former 49ers owner, is up for consideration and he fielded one of the greatest dynasties in NFL history, which should make him a strong candidate. He also hired Bill Walsh, one of the greatest coaches in history.

Charles Haley is another player that merits strong consideration due to the fact that he's in the 100-sack club and is a whopping five-time Super Bowl champion. Haley never really worked well with the media and, although that's not supposed to matter, you wonder if it will play a role in his voting session.

Dermontti Dawson was the Steelers center for 13 seasons and played in 170 consecutive games at one point. He could be part of the catchup year with no solid locks this season.

Kevin Greene and Cortez Kennedy may have a better shot to get in this year but it will still be difficult for them. Same goes for Aeneas Williams and Chris Doleman.

And then there are a pair of running backs: Curtis Martin and Jerome Bettis. I thought Bettis would've had a shot last year but he didn't get in. Martin is a strong candidate as he was fourth all-time in rushing yards when he left the game.

Two Senior Nominees

Former Steelers cornerback Jack Butler and former Lions and Redskins guard Dick Stanfel are up for nomination. Butler played his entire nine-year career in Pittsburgh from 1951-59. Stanfel played for the Lions from 1952-55 and for the Redskins from 1956-58.

Best Guess At Who Gets In

Fair warning: I'm not a voter so this is truly just a guess. But my candidates to get in would be Parcells, Martin, Carter and Roaf.

Parcells is a no-brainer if you ask me -- just five losing seasons in 19 years of coaching. Martin finished his career as one of the greatest rushers we've ever seen so he has a strong shot. And I also think it's time to bust the receiver debate and elect Carter. If you do that, then you have to consider Tim Brown and Andre Reed, as well, but I think Carter gets in first. Then there's Roaf, who's harder to make a case for because offensive linemen don't have stats but he was an elite tackle for a long, long time.