SAN DIEGO, JAN. 30 -- George Allen and Al Davis, two of the more controversial figures in the history of professional football, did not make the final list of nominees for the Pro Football Hall of Fame today.
Allen, the Washington Redskins coach from 1971 until 1977, and Davis, the owner of the Los Angeles Raiders, had been among 14 nominees from the modern era that was pared down this morning by a committee of media representatives from all 28 NFL cities.
The final seven included one candidate recommended by the Hall of Fame's Old-Timers Committee -- Lou Rymkus, a tackle who played the 1943 season with the Washington Redskins but spent the remainder of his career with the Cleveland Browns.
The other six finalists included two former members of the Oakland (now Los Angeles) Raiders -- wide receiver Fred Biletnikoff and tackle Art Shell -- Chicago tight end Mike Ditka, quarterback Bob Griese of the Miami Dolphins, Pittsburgh linebacker Jack Ham and Minnesota defensive tackle Alan Page.
The inductees will be announced on Tuesday and will be honored at ceremonies at the hall in Canton, Ohio, in July. The seven announced today as finalists will not necessarily all get into the Hall of Fame this year. A final ballot was taken of the 28 selectors this morning, and 82 percent of the votes cast is needed to join the hall's Class of 1988. Last year, all seven finalists were voted in.
Allen, a man given credit for a number of innovations in pro football, including the hiring of the first special teams coach and the development of the nickel defense, and one of the early proponents of situation substitution, was making his first appearance on the ballot and is likely to be considered in future years.
Davis, who is credited with pushing the merger of the NFL and the old AFL, of which he was commissioner, has been up for consideration for several years. He has always gone against the NFL establishment, clearly a major factor in his failure to gain entrance to the Hall of Fame.
Also dropped from the final 14 today were Minnesota Coach Bud Grant, Kansas City defensive tackle Buck Buchanan, Dallas linebacker Lee Roy Jordan, Cleveland running back Leroy Kelly, Los Angeles Rams guard Tom Mack and Pittsburgh wide receiver Lynn Swann.
Biletnikoff and Shell both spent their entire careers with the Raiders. Biletnikoff was the classic possession receiver, not particularly fast but a man who ran precise patterns and always seemed to be open in critical situations. He played in two Super Bowls, was MVP in the Raiders' 32-14 victory over Minnesota in Super Bowl XI and is ranked No. 7 on the league's all-time receiving list with 589 receptions.
Shell was a 290-pound tackle with the Raiders from 1968 to 1978 and teamed with Gene Upshaw on the left side of the Raiders' line to form one of the most devastating blocking combinations in the history of the league. Upshaw made the Hall of Fame in his first try last year.
Ham played on all four Steelers Super Bowl teams of the 1970s and was considered perhaps the best outside linebacker of his era. His college coach, Joe Paterno, has described him as the best linebacker he ever coached at Penn State.
Ditka, now the head coach of the Bears, was a rough and tumble tight end who made his reputation as a devastating blocker and clutch receiver playing for Chicago, the Philadelphia Eagles and finally the Dallas Cowboys before he retired in 1972. If elected, he would become the first tight end to make the Hall of Fame.
Griese was the precise and poised quarterback of the great Dolphins teams of the 1970s, including the 1972 team that finished 17-0 and beat the Redskins in Super Bowl VII, 14-7.
Page was a cornerstone of the Vikings Purple People Eaters defense from 1967 to 1978 and finished his career with the Bears, 1978-81. He played on teams that went to four Super Bowls and lost them all, and was known as a quick and elusive pass rusher who played in eight Pro Bowl games.
Rymkus, a Notre Dame graduate, started his career with the Redskins in 1943 and helped his team win its division with an 8-2 record. He was in the Navy for two years, then returned to play six more years with the Cleveland Browns under Paul Brown. Every team he played on won either a divisional or league championship.