NEW YORK -- Hall of Fame coach Bill Parcells has some advice for the 17 anxious Pro Football Hall of Fame finalists who await their fate Saturday.
Parcells, who led the New York Giants to two Super Bowl titles and is the only coach to lead four different franchises to the playoffs, was almost overcome by emotion when he was elected last year on his fourth try.
Parcells convinced himself it wasn’t going to happen last year. He worked out and ran errands before getting the call that cemented his legacy.
“With all the anticipation -- it’s human nature to try and prepare ourselves for the disappointment of not being selected,’’ Parcells told USA TODAY Sports on Thursday. “That was the way I was last year. I wasn’t selected the year before when I was quite hopeful. Last year, mentally, I was more geared to the possibility of “Well, maybe you’re not just going to get in.’
“I was better prepared. You protect your emotions a little bit because you realize you’re being chosen from a very large group. And there are a lot of qualified people’’
What does it feel like to finally get the Hall call?
“To be recognized in the upper echelon of your chosen industry is a great honor, it’s a very exhilarating feeling,’’ Parcells said.
The 46-member selection committee will vigorously debate the virtues of the finalists beginning with senior class candidates, punter Ray Guy and defensive end Claude Humphrey. Then, one media member will extol the merits of the 15 modern-era finalists before a cut down to 10. From there, the debate continues until a maximum of five modern-era candidates along with up to two senior members are selected by earning 80% of the votes.
Here’s the list:
Morten Andersen, kicker: A 1982 fourth-round pick by the New Orleans Saints, the Danish-born Andersen played 25 seasons and scored 2,544 points, the most prolific point-producer in league history. He is trying to join Jan Stenerud as Canton’s second pure kicker.
Jerome Bettis, running back: Nicknamed “The Bus’’ for his bruising running, Bettis is a fourth-year finalist. When he walked off into the sunset with a Super Bowl XL ring following the 2005 season, the Detroit native ranked fifth all-time with 13,662 rushing yards.
Derrick Brooks, linebacker: The prototypical, sideline-to-sideline weak-side linebacker never missed a game over his 14-season career. A 2000s All-Decade selection, the six-time All-Pro intercepted 25 passes, returned seven for touchdowns, forced 24 fumbles and had 13 1Ž2 sacks, leading the Tampa Bay defense.
Tim Brown, receiver/kick/punt returner: The former Los Angeles-Oakland Raider and Buccaneer collectd 1,094 receptions for 14,934 yards and 100 touchdowns. He ranks fifth with 19,682 combined net yardage.
Edward J. DeBartolo, Jr., owner: He led the 49ers to five Super Bowl titles beginning with the 1979 hiring of iconic coach Bill Walsh. DeBartolo had a league-best .622 win percentage during his 1977-2000 tenure before he was suspended one year. He surrendered his ownership stake after pleading guilty for failure to report paying an extortion fee to former Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards for a riverboat gambling license.
Tony Dungy, coach: Dungy became the first African-American coach to win a Super Bowl with the Indianapolis Colts after the 2006 season. His Bucs and Colts teams reached the playoffs in 11 of his 13 seasons. He went 148-79 overall.
Kevin Greene, linebacker: His 160 sacks with the Los Angeles Rams, Pittsburgh Steelers, Carolina Panthers and 49ers ranked third all-time following his 1999 retirement.
Ray Guy, punter: With a 42.4 career average, the six-time All-Pro punted for three Raiders Super Bowl winning teams.
Charles Haley, defensive end: Will his fifth-year as a finalist prove poetic justice for the only player in league history to play on five winning Super Bowl teams? Haley finished with 100 1Ž2 career sacks.
Marvin Harrison, receiver: Peyton Manning’s first go-to guy, Harrison finished with 1,102 career receptions, 14, 580 yards and 128 touchdowns.
Claude Humphrey, defensive end: Credited with 122 career sacks in 171 games with the Atlanta Falcons and Philadelphia Eagles, whom he helped lead to Super Bowl XV with a team-high 14 1Ž2 sacks.
Walter Jones, tackle: The prototypical left tackle used to push trucks around in his small Alabama town because his high school lacked proper weight equipment. This 6-foot5, 300-pounder protected the blind sides of nine Seattle Seahawks quarterbacks, including Warren Moon and Matt Hasselbeck. Jones allowed just 23 sacks and was whistled for nine holding penalties in 180 games, helping Seattle reach the playoffs from 2003 to 2007.
John Lynch, safety: A former Stanford quarterback turned safety, Lynch recorded 26 interceptions, 13 sacks and more than 1,000 tackles as a cornerstone for the Bucs and Denver Broncos. He helped lead the 2002 Bucs to a Super Bowl XXXVII title.
Andre Reed, receiver: In his eighth year as a finalist, Reed faces stiff competition from Brown and Harrison. Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly’s go-to slot receiver connected with Jim Kelly for 663 receptions -- most by a QB-WR tandem until 2004 when the Manning-Harrison duo eclipsed them.
Will Shields, guard: The Kansas City Chiefs cornerstone went to 12 straight Pro Bowls and was a member of the league’s All-Decade Team of the 2002, helping pave the way for Priest Holmes’ then-record 27 rushing touchdowns in 2003.
Michael Strahan, defensive end: Kelly Ripa’s sidekick first earned fame when he set the league’s single-season record with 22 1Ž2 sacks. (With a hat tip to Brett Favre). The spiritual leader of the New York Giants’ 17-14 Super Bowl XLII upset of the Patriots, Strahan went out on top. He was a complete defensive end and stout run stopper with 141 1Ž2 career sacks.
Aeneas Williams, cornerback/safety: In 14 seasons with the Arizona Cardinals and St. Louis Rams, Williams notched 55 interceptions and was a member of the 1990s All-Decade team.