Grimm, Haley, Smith among Hall finalists

Some former NFC East greats are among the 17 finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The NFL's all-time leading rusher, Emmitt Smith, is a virtual lock in his first year of eligibility. He's joined by former Redskins offensive lineman Russ Grimm and former 49ers and Cowboys defensive end Charles Haley.

This is the first time Haley has been a finalist. He was one of the greatest pass-rushers of the 90s and he was a part of five Super Bowl winners. He also made a lot of noise off the field, but the voters are not allowed to take those things into consideration. I think Haley deserves to be in the Hall, but I'm not sure this is a great year for him to get in because it's such a strong class. Smith and Jerry Rice are obvious first-ballot choices and I think voters will have a hard time keeping Cris Carter out again.

I don't think anyone embodied the spirit of the Skins' famed "Hogs" like Grimm, who started for more than a decade. He went to four consecutive Pro Bowls and was an All-Pro in those seasons. I definitely think he deserves to be in the Hall, but it might hurt him that the Redskins recently had Darrell Green and Art Monk inducted.

The voting will take place on Feb. 6, the day before the Super Bowl.