If at first you don't succeed, try, try, try, try and, well, try again.
For the sixth consecutive year, former Vikings receiver Cris Carter is one of the 15 modern-era finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. And for the fourth year in a row, he will share the ballot with former Bill Andre Reed and former Raider Tim Brown in what has become a three-man logjam for votes by receivers from the same era. Reed is a finalist for the seventh consecutive year.
Meanwhile, four formidable candidates have emerged to battle Carter in their first year of eligibility: Buccaneers defensive tackle Warren Sapp, a four-time first-team All-Pro selection; Giants defensive end Michael Strahan, whose 141 1/2 career sacks rank fifth in NFL history; Cowboys guard Larry Allen, a six-time All-Pro and 11-time Pro Bowl player, and Ravens left tackle Jonathan Ogden, also an 11-time Pro Bowl pick.
The other finalists are: Rams and Steelers running back Jerome Bettis; former 49ers owner Edward Debartolo Jr.; former Browns and Ravens owner Art Modell; Rams, Steelers, Panthers and 49ers outside linebacker Kevin Greene; 49ers and Cowboys defensive end Charles Haley; Cardinals and Rams safety Aeneas Williams; Chiefs guard Will Shields; and former Giants, Patriots, Jets and Cowboys coach Bill Parcells.
The 15 finalists were chosen from 27 semifinalists in a mail-in vote by the Hall's selection committee, which has grown from 44 to 46 members this year. The committee will meet Feb. 2 in New Orleans to choose the Class of 2013. Two pre-1988 candidates chosen earlier by the Hall's Seniors Committee -- defensive tackle Curley Culp (Chiefs, Oilers, Lions) and linebacker Dave Robinson (Packers, Redskins) -- also will be considered for the Class of 2013.
Culp and Robinson will be discussed and voted on first. Like the modern-era finalists, they must receive 80 percent of the vote to reach the Hall.
Next, the 15 modern-era finalists will be discussed. A vote will be taken to reduce that number to 10. After further discussion on those 10 candidates, another vote will be taken to reduce that number to five.
Only those five modern-era candidates will then be put up for a "yes" or "no" vote. Per Hall rules, each class is limited to a minimum of four and a maximum of seven members.
Carter was a fourth-round pick of the Eagles in 1987. In three years with Philadelphia, he had 19 touchdowns in just 89 catches, a 4.7-to-1 catch-to-touchdown ratio that prompted then-Eagles coach Buddy Ryan to famously say, "All he does is catch touchdowns."
Before the 1990 season, the Vikings spent the best $100 in franchise history when they put in a waiver claim on Carter. He played the next 12 seasons in Minnesota and part of one more in Miami before retiring.
Carter, an eight-time Pro Bowl pick and two-time first-team All-Pro, had back-to-back 122-catch seasons (1994-95), eight consecutive 1,000-yard seasons (1993-2000) and five consecutive seasons with at least 10 touchdown catches (1995-99).
Ten seasons after he retired, Carter still ranks fourth in NFL history in catches (1,101), fourth in receiving touchdowns (130), eighth in total touchdowns (131) and ninth in receiving yards (13,899).
No other finalists with ties to the Vikings made it this year, meaning kicker and NFL career scoring leader Morten Andersen, whose 25-year, 2,544-point career included a one-year stint in Minnesota (2004), will have to wait until at least his second year of eligibility. Former 49ers star running back Roger Craig, whose 11-year career ended with two seasons in Minnesota (1992-93), also didn't survive the cut from 27 modern-era semifinalists. He was a finalist in 2010.