Sanders nominated for Pro Football Hall of Fame

Updated: October 8, 2003, 7:39 PM ET

DETROIT -- There may finally be something capable of slowing down the ever-elusive Barry Sanders: The Pro Football Hall of Fame.

The former star running back of the Detroit Lions and a Heisman Trophy winner out of Oklahoma State was among 67 players and contributors nominated for election Wednesday.

From that list, selectors will choose 23 semifinalists who will be added to two carry-over candidates from last year. The list of 25 semifinalists will be announced next month and then reduced to 15 finalists.

The selectors will then vote on Jan. 31, 2004 -- the day before the Super Bowl in Houston -- to choose between three and six new members, who will be inducted next summer in Canton, Ohio.

Sanders suddenly retired just before the 1999 season after 10 years in the NFL.

He ran for 15,269 yards and walked away from the game with Walter Payton's rushing record only one of his average seasons away. Sanders, who always said he wasn't motivated to break records, said in a written statement that his desire to retire was stronger than his desire to play, and he hasn't said much since.

Arizona's Emmitt Smith said Sanders sent him a congratulatory message through a mutual friend after he broke Payton's record last season, in his last year with the Dallas Cowboys.

The Michigan Sports Hall of Fame inducted Sanders in May. After telling officials he would appear, Sanders sent his wife, Lauren, and their 19-month old son in his place.

David Ware, Sanders' agent, said Sanders will not be a no-show if he is inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

"I've talked to him about it and there's no chance he would miss it," Ware said.

When asked if Sanders would be available for comment Wednesday, Ware said: "What do you think?"

Since retiring, Sanders has eluded interviewers as if they were defenders.

Detroit's Robert Porcher, who played with Sanders for seven seasons, chuckled when he was asked whether he thought Sanders would be in Canton for his induction.

"Do I think he'll show up? Yeah, he'll definitely show up," Porcher said. "Why wouldn't he? The mystery man, I think would show up for that.

"If anybody deserves to be there, Barry Sanders definitely does."

This story is from's automated news wire. Wire index