Paul Tagliabue, Steve Sabol selected for Pro Football Hall of Fame's Centennial Class

Cowher gets surprised with news of HOF induction (2:12)

Bill Cowher gets emotional upon receiving the news that he will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. (2:12)

Former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue, former NFL Films president Steve Sabol and two players from the league's most iconic defenses were among those selected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame's Centennial Class.

Thirteen members of the 15-member class were revealed Wednesday morning on NFL Network. Tagliabue, Sabol, former Pittsburgh Steelers safety Donnie Shell and Dallas Cowboys safety Cliff Harris were among the inductees.

"Don't give up on your gifts and your talents," Shell said on NFL Network. He was signed by the Steelers as an undrafted free agent after playing football and baseball at South Carolina State.

Former Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Harold Carmichael, Chicago Bears tackle Jim Covert, Green Bay Packers defensive back Bobby Dillon, New York Jets tackle Winston Hill, Detroit Lions defensive tackle Alex Karras, Chicago Cardinals tackle Duke Slater, Cleveland Browns wide receiver Mac Speedie, Bears defensive end Ed Sprinkle and New York Giants general manager George Young are also among the Centennial Class.

Former Steelers coach Bill Cowher and Cowboys coach Jimmy Johnson learned they would be a part of the class this past weekend.

The Hall's Centennial Class was selected by a special "blue-ribbon panel," which included members of the Hall's board of selectors, league historians, Hall of Famers, as well as New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick.

The 38 finalists were chosen from a list of almost 300 nominees over the course of the past five months.

The Hall of Fame's Class of 2020 -- comprised of modern-era players -- will be selected in Miami Beach on Feb. 1, the day before Super Bowl LIV. The Hall of Fame announced that the modern-era class will be enshrined in August with part of the Centennial Class. The remainder of the Centennial Class will be enshrined at the league's 100th year celebration in September in Canton, Ohio.

Tagliabue, Sabol and Young will be enshrined as contributors. Tagliabue and Young had each been finalists for the Hall in previous years. The Giants had finished last in the NFC East in six of the previous seven years when Young was hired. The team won two Super Bowls during his tenure. Sabol's father, Ed, had been enshrined in 2011.

Shell becomes the fifth member of the Steel Curtain defense to be enshrined in Canton, joining Joe Greene, Jack Lambert, Jack Ham and Mel Blount. Harris is the fifth member of Dallas' Doomsday Defense to be enshrined, joining Bob Lilly, Randy White, Mel Renfro and Herb Adderley.

Carmichael was an All-Decade selection of the 1970s, and when he retired he held the league record with a reception in 127 consecutive games. He had a touchdown reception on almost 14 percent of his career catches.

"I am numb right now," Carmichael said on NFL Network after getting the phone call telling him he made the Hall. "I had a flashback from 60-some years ago, thinking about the guys that helped me get here.

"This is the ultimate honor you get in the National Football League."

Hill, whose dominating performance in Super Bowl III helped the Jets pulled off one of the biggest upsets in league history by beating the Baltimore Colts, was the only player among the Centennial Class to have spent significant portions of his career in the AFL.

Slater -- one of the NFL's first black players -- Dillon, Speedie and Sprinkle all played before 1960. Karras' dominant career was overshadowed by a one-year gambling suspension in 1963 and the fact that he did not play in a playoff game until the final game of his career.

Editor's note: ESPN Denver Broncos writer Jeff Legwold is a Hall of Fame voter and a member of the panel that selected the NFL Centennial Class.