Eddie DeBartolo and Roger Craig Highlight 49ers In 2011 Hall of Fame Semifinalist Group

The Pro Football Hall of Fame has announced its 2011 semifinalist class and it includes former owner Edward J. DeBartolo, Jr., running back Roger Craig, and defensive end/linebacker Charles Haley. DeBartolo is a first time semi-finalist, while Craig and Haley were both finalists last year. Some other players with 49ers ties in the semifinalists include Richard Dent, Chris Doleman, Kevin Greene, and Deion Sanders. The list will be reduced to 15 finalists with two Senior Committee nominees added later to make it 17 finalists. The cut-down will be announced at some point in January 2011. The full list of semifinalists is after the jump.

While Deion Sanders would seem to be a lock for the Hall of Fame, the two names that interest me are Roger Craig and Eddie DeBartolo. Craig keeps getting closer and closer to the Hall of Fame as last year was his first time as a finalist. Craig was really the predecessor to the combination type backs we've seen in Marshall Faulk and Ladanian Tomlinson, among others. Craig's career numbers may not blow your mind, but his combination of rushing and receiving yards is better than numerous Hall of Famers.

The really interesting name on the list is former owner Edward J. DeBartolo, Jr. Eddie D was more or less forced out of the 49ers organization in disgrace after his bribery scandal involving riverboat gambling in Louisiana and Edwin Edwards, the corrupt former governor of the state. This led to his sister Denise York and her husband John York taking over the organization. Much of this also coincided with the downfall of the 49ers as one of the premier organizations in the league.

I have to say I'd be fairly stunned if Eddie D made his way into the Hall of Fame on his first try. The question isn't whether he's deserving, but rather how he is viewed by the voters. There's no question his former players love him and would do anything for him, as he would for them. In fact, he's introduced numerous former 49ers when they've been selected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Once again, you can help raise the profile of some of your favorite 49ers. Steve Young and Van Heusen have their Fan's Choice website set up. The fan vote won't be used to select the players, but it's certainly possible the Fan's Voice could have at least a little bit of an influence.

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