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Ex-Bucs Brooks, Lynch, Dungy to learn if they are among 15 Hall finalists

TAMPA — Linebacker Derrick Brooks, safety John Lynch and coach Tony Dungy, key contributors when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers emerged as an NFL power in the late 1990s, are hoping to advance today when the Pro Football Hall of Fame announces its 15 finalists for the Class of 2014.

In their first year of eligibility, Brooks and Dungy made the list of 25 semifinalists in November, along with Lynch, who was eliminated at this stage last January in his first year of consideration.

NFL Network will broadcast the announcement of the 15 modern-era finalists live tonight at 9. The Class of 2014 will be named Feb. 1, the day before the Super Bowl in New York.

A maximum of five modern-day candidates are allowed into any class.

Lynch, a nine-time Pro Bowler, was eliminated when the 45-member Hall of Fame panel whittled the 2013 list down to a final group of 15 candidates whose careers will be discussed in detail by the Selection Committee before a final vote.

The late defensive end Lee Roy Selmon had been the only Buccaneer inducted into the Canton, Ohio, shrine to excellence until last summer, when he was joined by two-time All-Decade defensive tackle Warren Sapp.

Brooks, currently the president of the Arena Football League's Tampa Bay Storm, played all 14 of his NFL seasons with the Bucs. He earned 11 Pro Bowl berths while defining the weakside linebacker position in the highly influential Tampa 2 defense.

During Tampa Bay's 2002 championship season, Brooks returned three interceptions for touchdowns and was named the league's Defensive Player of the Year. He entered the NFL with Sapp as a first-round draft pick in 1995, and they played critical roles during the Bucs' title run.

Dungy, now an NBC football analyst living in Tampa, replaced Sam Wyche on the Bucs sideline in 1996. Joining a franchise that had reeled off 13 consecutive losing seasons, Dungy had the Bucs in the playoffs in only his second year and posted a 54-42 record during his six seasons in Tampa.

Dungy went 85-27 in seven years with Indianapolis. He became the first black coach to win a Super Bowl when he led the 2006 Colts to a 16-4 mark, capped by a victory against the Chicago Bears and coach Lovie Smith.

Dungy retired in 2009 after making the playoffs in an NFL-record 10 straight seasons. His career .668 winning percentage ranks 11th all-time.

Lynch, who worked the first three Bucs games this year as an analyst for Fox, played 11 seasons for Tampa Bay after being selected in the third round of the 1993 draft.

The hard-hitting safety, who registered 23 career interceptions and 973 tackles for Tampa Bay, made the Pro Bowl five times as a Buccaneer before earning a trip to Hawaii in each of his four seasons in Denver. He currently lives in San Diego.

Also on the star-studded list of 25 semifinalists are former San Francisco 49ers owner and Tampa resident Ed DeBartolo; coach Jimmy Johnson, who led the Dallas Cowboys to consecutive Super Bowl victories; former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue; and ex-players including New York Giants defensive end Michael Strahan, Seattle Seahawks tackle Walter Jones and Colts wide receiver Marvin Harrison.

The two senior nominees for the Class of 2014 are punter Ray Guy and defensive end Claude Humphrey.

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