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Thomas, Reed make the cut Former Bills among 17 finalists for Hall

The Buffalo Bills have two of the final 17 candidates for induction to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Thurman Thomas and Andre Reed both made the cut from a list of 25 semifinalists to the list of 15 final modern-era players who will be considered for the Hall next month, the NFL announced Wednesday. Two senior candidates join the modern-era finalists in contention for induction.

A minimum of three candidates and a maximum of six will be selected to the Hall in a vote that will take place Feb. 3 in Miami.

Thomas ranks seventh in NFL history in yards from scrimmage by running backs. He's 12th all-time in rushing yards. Reed ranks fifth in NFL history in receptions and is seventh in receiving yards.

The others who made the cut from 25 to 15 are receivers Art Monk and Michael Irvin, defensive ends Fred Dean and Richard Dent; guards Bruce Matthews, Russ Grimm and Bob Kuechenberg; punter Ray Guy; linebackers Derrick Thomas and Andre Tippett; cornerback Roger Wehrli; tackle Gary Zimmerman; and retired NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue. The two senior candidates -- players whose careers ended more than 25 years ago -- are Cleveland guard Gene Hickerson and Detroit tight end Charlie Sanders.

Players must be retired five years before they are eligible for induction. Last year was the first year of eligibility for Thurman Thomas and Reed.

A group of 40 print and broadcast reporters from across the country votes on the Hall. During the final selection meeting the finalists are whittled down to a group of 10, then a group of six. Thurman Thomas advanced to the final 10 at last year's meeting but was eliminated on the vote to the final six.

Besides Reed, the other first-time finalists are Dean, Matthews, Sanders, Tagliabue and Tippett. This is the seventh straight year Monk has made the final 15. It's the sixth time as a finalist for Kuechenberg and the fourth for Zimmerman.

Thomas' Bills career lasted from 1988 to '99. He gained 12,074 yards rushing and 4,458 yards receiving. Thomas also is second in NFL history in yards from scrimmage in the postseason with 2,114.

Reed's Bills career lasted from 1985 to '99. He caught 951 passes for 13,198 yards. Reed is third all-time in playoff catches and fourth all-time in receiving yards in the playoffs.

Both Thomas and Reed scored 87 touchdowns for the Bills, tied for the team record.

e-mail: mgaughan@buffnews.com

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