Matt Vensel is in his first year at the Star Tribune after covering the Ravens for the Baltimore Sun for six years. He is a Pittsburgh native and a Penn State grad. Follow him at @mattvensel.
Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.
Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for mlb.com before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.
Cris Carter is one of 15 modern-era finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The committee, which includes Mark Craig of the Star Tribune, meets Saturday in New Orleans. The inductees will be announced around 5 p.m. Saturday.
The committee can induct no more than five modern-era players from a pretty impressive list. There are also two senior candidates, and the 46-member selection committee votes thumbs up or thumbs down on those two. (Important to remember: the senior candidates do not compete with the modern candidates. In years past, people have been critical of senior candidates getting in "ahead" of players like Carter, but they are in two separate categories. A senior player being selected does not take the spot of a modern era candidate.)
What do you think about Carter's chances? Here is the list of finalists and, as always, it's pretty impressive.
MODERN ERA CANDIDATES
Larry Allen: Guard for the Cowboys (1994-2005) and 49ers (2006-07). First team All-Pro seven consecutive seasons. Played every offensive line position except center. On NFL all-decade team of the 1990s and 2000s. Super Bowl XXX champion.
Jerome Bettis: Running back for the Rams (1993-95) and Steelers (1996-2005). Rookie of the Year in 1993 when he was second in the league in rushing. Led the Steelers in rushing eight seasons. Fifth in career rushing yards (13,662) when he retired. Two-time All-Pro, six-time Pro Bowler.
Tim Brown: Receiver and return man for the Raiders (1988-2003) and Bucs (2004). Led NFL in receptions in 1997. When he retired, his 14,934 receiving yards were second in NFL history, 1,094 catches were third and 100 TD catches were tied for third. Had four return TDs. Nine-time Pro Bowler.
Cris Carter: Receiver for the Eagles (1987-89), Vikings (1990-2001) and Dolphins (2002). Had more than 1,000 receiving yards in eight consecutive seasons. Set then-NFL record with 122 catches in 1994. Ranked second in receptions (1,101) and receiving TDs (130) when he retired. Eight-time Pro Bowler.
Edward DeBartolo Jr: Owner, 49ers (1977-2000). From 1981-98 team averaged 13 victories per season. Won 13 division titles and won five Super Bowls. Served on realignment and expansion committees.
Kevin Greene: Linebacker/defensive end for Rams (1985-92), Steelers (1993-95), 49ers (1997), Panthers (1996, 1998-99). First-team All-Pro with three different teams. His 160 sacks were third in NFL history when he retired. Had 26 fumble recoveries and five interceptions.
Charles Haley: Defensive end/linebacker for 49ers (1986-91, 1999) and Cowboys (1992-96). Only player in NFL history to be on five Super Bowl champions. Had 100 career sacks. Two-time NFC defensive player of the year. All-Pro at both positions.
Art Modell: Owner, Browns (1961-95) and Ravens (1996-2011). Won NFL championship in 1964 and Super Bowl XXXV. NFL president during NFL-AFL merger. Integral in getting NFL television deals. Died last September at age 87.
Jonathan Ogden: Offensive tackle for Ravens (1996-2007). Super Bowl XXXV champion. All-Pro six times, made Pro Bowl 11 times. Dominant left tackle in run-blocking and pass protection for 177 games.
Bill Parcells: Coach for Giants (1983-90), Patriots (1993-96), Jets (1997-99) and Cowboys (2003-06). Regular season record was 172-130-1, postseason was 11-8. Won Super Bowl XXV with Giants, took Patriots to Super Bowl XXXI. Two-time NFL coach of the year.
Andre Reed: Receiver for Bills (1985-99) and Redskins (2000). His 951 catches were third in NFL history when he retired. Seven-time Pro Bowl player, had 85 catches for 1,229 yards in postseason. Helped Bills to four Super Bowls, but they lost all four.
Warren Sapp: Defensive tackle for Bucs (1995-2003) and Raiders (2004-07). Despite playing on interior line, had 96.5 career sacks. 1999 NFL defensive player of the year. Won Super Bowl XXXVII. First-team All-Pro from 1999-2002, made seven Pro Bowls.
Will Shields: Guard for Chiefs (1993-2006). Never missed a game in 14 seasons. Chiefs were in playoffs six times during his career. Chosen for 12 consecutive Pro Bowls, was first-team All-Pro three teams and second team four times.
Michael Strahan: Defensive ends for Giants (1993-2007). Had 141.5 sacks in 15 seasons. Was first-team All-Pro five times. Set single-season sack record (22.5 in 2001). Won Super Bowl XLII in his final game.
Aeneas Williams: Defensive back for Cardinals (1991-2000) and Rams (2001-04). Played cornerback for 12 seasons and safety for two. Made Pro Bowl at both positions, eight times overall. Had 55 interceptions, 807 yards and nine touchdowns.
Curley Culp: Senior candidate. Defensive tackle for Chiefs (1968-74), Oilers (1974-80) and Lions (1980-81). Won Super Bowl IV. NFL defensive player of the year in 1975. Six-time Pro Bowler.
Dave Robinson: Senior candidate. Linebacker for Packers (1963-72) and Redskins (1973-74). Won three consecutive NFL championships (1965-67) and two Super Bowls. Had 27 interceptions, was chosen for three Pro Bowls.
Kyle Rudolph, the Vikings' second-year tight end, will be in the Pro Bowl.
Rudolph was named an injury replacement today because Tony Gonzalez of the Falcons pulled out because of an injury.
Rudolph is the 17th replacement player named to the NFC team.
Other Vikings in the Pro Bowl are Jared Allen, Jerome Felton, Chad Greenway, Adrian Peterson and Blair Walsh.
Rudolph had 53 receptions, nine touchdowns and 493 receiving yards this season.
John Kuhn scored a pair of touchdowns and Aaron Rodgers threw for 274 yards as the Packers beat the Vikings 24-10 in a wild-card playoff game tonight in Green Bay.
Backup Joe Webb played quarterback for the Vikings, after knowing throughout last week that Christian Ponder was dealing with significant tightness and soreness in his right elbow. So as Ponder tried to rest his elbow and remained limited in practice, Webb took most of the reps with the first team offense during the team’s Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday practices.
Still, that didn’t lessen the peculiarity of Webb’s start at Lambeau Field. For starters, Webb became the first quarterback in NFL history to start a playoff game having not thrown a pass during the regular season. In fact, Webb was on the field during the regular season for all of three snap — a kneel down and two handoffs in the final 2 minutes of the Vikings’ 30-7 win over Tennessee in Week 5.
In Saturday’s 24-10 loss to the Packers, Webb went 11-for-30 for 180 yards with a touchdown pass, a fumble and an interception. He also added 68 rushing yards.
Webb’s last extended action as a quarterback in game action had come in the preseason finale Aug. 30 in Houston, a 28-24 Vikings loss in which he went 4-for-7 for 47 yards while rushing twice for 22 yards.
Webb’s last start as a quarterback came in the 2010 season finale in Detroit. He was 20-for-32 for 145 yards and ran for 35 yards in a 20-13 loss.
His last NFL start came in Week 13 last season against Denver - he started that game as a receiver.
Kuhn became the first Packer in history to have both a rushing and receiving touchdown in two different playoff games. Kuhn had a 3-yard TD run in the second quarter and a 9-yard TD catch on Green Bay’s opening series of the second half.
The Packers lead the Vikings 17-3 at halftime in tonight's NFC Wild-Card playoff game, and backup quarterback Joe Webb has shown little for the Vikings.
Aaron Rodgers, on the other hand, has thrown for 205 yards for the Packers.
Webb started at quarterback with Christian Ponder (bruised throwing elbow) inactive for the game. Webb was impressive running, but not passing, as the Vikings took a 3-0 first-quarter lead on a 33-yard field by Blair Walsh on the opening drive.
The Packers’ DuJuan Harris had a 9-yard scoring run on the final play of the first quarter. Originally he was ruled down short of the goal line, but Packers coach Mike McCarthy challenged the play and it was ruled a score on review. So the Packers led 7-3 after one quarter.
Webb had 33 yards rushing in the first quarter, but Webb completed only one of three passes. The second incompletion was a prayer thrown up has Webb was being sacked, and he was fortunate it was not intercepted.
Webb had a similar pass on the first Vikings possession of the second quarter and was called for intentional grounding.
The Vikings’ goal line stand later in the second quarter forced the Packers to settle for a 20-yard field goal by Mason Crosby and a 10-3 lead.
But the Vikings went three-and-out, giving Rodgers time before the half ended, and Rodgers drove the Packers down for a touchdown and a 17-3 lead. John Kuhn’s 3-yard touchdown run did the trick.
Adrian Peterson has 48 rushing yards for the Vikings on 12 carries. Webb was three-for-12 for 22 yards.
The Vikings-Packers game time Sunday has been changed to 3:25 p.m. by the NFL. If the Vikings win, they will make the NFC playoffs as a wild-card. They can also make the playoffs, if they lose, if Chicago, Dallas and the N.Y. Giants also lose.
The NFL also flexed the Dallas-Washington game, which will decide the NFC East title, to 7:20 p.m. and moved the New England-Miami game to 3:25 as well.
Of course, if the Vikings beat the Packers, the teams could very well meet in the first round of the playoffs, at Lambeau.
Here is the updated look at the playoffs.
NFL playoff picture
• Atlanta (13-2) has clinched the South title and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
• Green Bay (11-4) has clinched the North and can clinch a first-round bye with a victory over the Vikings or a loss by San Francisco.
• San Francisco (10-4-1) has clinched a playoff spot. Can clinch the West title with a victory over Arizona or a Seattle loss to St. Louis. Can clinch a first-round bye with a victory and a Green Bay loss to the Vikings.
• Washington (9-6) can win the East by beating Dallas.
• Seattle (10-5) has clinched a wild-card spot; can clinch the West with a victory over the Rams and a San Francisco loss.
• The Vikings (9-6) can clinch a wild-card spot by beating the Packers on Sunday. The Vikings also can make the playoffs, with a loss, if Dallas, Chicago and the N.Y. Giants lose.
• Chicago (9-6) can make the playoffs with a victory at Detroit and a Vikings loss.
• Dallas (8-7) can win the East by beating Washington.
• The New York Giants (8-7) can make the playoffs with a victory against Philadelphia and losses by the Vikings, Dallas and Chicago.
The six-team field is set but not the matchups.
• Houston (12-3) is the South champ and can clinch No. 1 seed with a victory over Indianapolis or a loss by Denver.
• Denver (12-3) is the West champ and can clinch first-round bye with a victory or a New England loss; can clinch No. 1 seed with a victory and a Houston loss.
• New England (11-4) is the East champ and can clinch a first-round bye with a victory and a Denver loss. New England also can clinch No. 1 seed with a victory and losses by both Houston and Denver.
• Baltimore (10-5) is the North champ.
• Indianapolis (10-5) will be the No. 5 seed as a wild card.
• Cincinnati (9-6) will be the No. 6 seed as a wild card.
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