Joe Montana and Ronnie Lott, teammates on four of the 49ers' Super Bowl championship teams, lead the list of 15 finalists announced yesterday for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Montana and Lott were the only nominees to make the list of finalists in their first year of eligibility.
The list also includes Raiders DE Howie Long and Steelers WR Lynn Swann, both of whom finished in the top six in last year's balloting but fell short of the votes needed for induction. As a result of their finish in the 1999 voting, both were automatically included on the list of finalists this year.
The hall's 38-member board of selectors will select at least four and no more than seven new inductees when it meets in Atlanta on Jan. 29.
* BRUNELL QUESTIONS: Mark Brunell says he took all the snaps in practice yesterday. Jaguars Coach Tom Coughlin says it was more like 60 percent. The truth probably lies somewhere in the middle, which means there's no way to be sure Brunell will start Saturday's playoff game against the Dolphins.
"If the game was today, it would have been Tom's decision, but I had a good day," said Brunell, recovering from a sprained knee.
* BROWN'S APPEAL: Suspended Browns T Orlando Brown didn't attend his appeal hearing in New York, choosing instead to plead his case over the phone. Brown is suspended indefinitely for shoving referee Jeff Triplette last month. A league spokesman said Tagliabue would make a decision on Brown's case "in the near future."
* BELICHICK HEARING: The NFL conducted a day-long hearing on Bill Belichick's grievance as the former Jets coach sought clarification of his contract status with the team. No decision was expected until next week.
* SPIKES SENTENCED: Former Dolphins RB Irving Spikes was sentenced to five years in a federal prison for his role in a drug deal.