Shula Heads List of 15 Candidates Named Finalists for the Hall of Fame

Don Shula, who has won more games than any NFL coach, leads the list of 15 candidates announced Thursday as finalists for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.

One of Shula's players during his years with the Miami Dolphins, center Dwight Stephenson, is among the players up for induction.

Also on the list are defensive ends Carl Eller and Jack Youngblood, punter Ray Guy, cornerback Mike Haynes, safety Paul Krause, guard Tom Mack, tight end Ozzie Newsome, wide receivers John Stallworth and Lynn Swann, tackle Ron Yary, center Mike Webster, seniors nominee Jerry Kramer and New York Giant President Wellington Mara.

A 36-member board of selectors will meet in New Orleans Jan. 25, the day before the Super Bowl, to elect the class of 1997. The class will be inducted on July 26.

For the third consecutive year, no running backs made the field of finalists and for the second time in three years there were no quarterbacks.

The only person to make the list in his first year of eligibility was Shula. Mack is in his 14th year of eligibility. Krause and Eller have been eligible for 13 years.

Shula coached the Baltimore Colts from 1963-69 and the Dolphins from 1970-95, posting a record of 347-173-6. He guided the Dolphins to Super Bowl titles in 1972 and 1973 and lost in four other Super Bowls.

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Bobby Ross appeared to be the leading candidate for the Atlanta Falcons coaching job as he headed back to San Diego.

Ross, who also has interviewed with the St. Louis Rams and the Detroit Lions, described his meeting with Falcon President Taylor Smith as "very positive."

"I want to do it very fast," Ross said. "But there would still be some specific things relative to this position. There would have to be further answers provided before I knew my situation here."

Ross, who was ousted as the Chargers coach last week after five seasons, wants total control of the team. Smith has indicated he wants to hire someone who would be responsible for player personnel decisions.

The Detroit Lions reportedly have offered Ross a five-year contract. WWJ radio in Detroit, citing NFL sources, reported that the Lions have delayed interviews with San Francisco 49er defensive coordinator Pete Carroll and Philadelphia Eagle defensive coordinator Emmitt Thomas after extending the offer to Ross.

The Falcons' Smith apparently has narrowed his list of candidates to Ross and former New York Giant coach Dan Reeves.

Reeves toured the Falcons' complex in suburban Suwanee last week and indicated that he wants the Atlanta job.

"I have great interest in that job," said Reeves, a Georgia native who was fired after the season by the Giants. "So just as you would be for anything you care about, I'm anxious to see it turn my way."

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