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Emmitt Smith endorses Thomas for Hall

The NFL's all-time leading running back has no doubts about Thurman Thomas' worthiness to make the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

The retired Buffalo Bills running back received a strong endorsement from fellow great running back Emmitt Smith on Friday.

"Thurman Thomas is one of the greatest players, not just one of the greatest running backs, to ever play the game," said Smith at a news conference for former Super Bowl most valuable players. "His numbers support that, and his talent supports that. He is a Hall of Famer, and anyone who feels otherwise should have their heads examined."

Thomas bids to join the elite of the elite today. He is among 15 finalists being considered for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He is one of four first-time eligible players in the final 15, joining quarterback Troy Aikman, defensive end Reggie White and quarterback Warren Moon. The newcomers for induction help make this group one of the strongest classes of candidates in recent years.

A minimum of three men and a maximum of six will be inducted into the hall. A panel of 39 selectors from across the country will meet from about 7:30 a.m. to noon to discuss the candidates and cast the votes. The results of the vote will be announced at 2 p.m. (ESPN).

Only 25 percent of the players elected to the hall got in on their first year of eligibility.

Smith is the NFL's all-time rushing leader with 18,355 yards.

Thomas ranks 12th all time in rushing yards with 12,074. Thomas ranks seventh in NFL history in yards from scrimmage by running backs with 16,532. He is second behind only Jerry Rice in yards from scrimmage in the playoffs. He is the only man ever to lead the league in yards from scrimmage four straight seasons.

There are two "Senior Committee" nominees, men whose careers ended more than 25 years ago. Those two are former Oakland coach John Madden and Dallas tackle Rayfield Wright. The other finalists are linebackers Harry Carson and Derrick Thomas, receivers Michael Irvin and Art Monk, offensive linemen Russ Grimm, Bob Kuechenberg, and Gary Zimmerman, and defensive linemen L.C. Greenwood and Claude Humphrey.

The list of 15 first is pared down to 10 in the voting process then to six. Then the selectors vote up or down on the final six.


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