New Format Makes Wolf HOF Finalist

Under the new contributor category, former Packers GM Ron Wolf is a finalist for the Hall of Fame

CANTON, Ohio — Former general managers Bill Polian and Ron Wolf were selected Wednesday as contributor finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame's class of 2015.

Polian and Wolf were chosen by the Hall of Fame's contributor committee. Inductees will be selected on Jan. 31, the day before the Super Bowl, in Phoenix.

Wolf won a Super Bowl while general manager of the Packers in 1996, and also was a longtime player personnel director for the Raiders.

"What an honor!" Wolf said. "I'm overwhelmed. I realize that none of this would be possible without an awful lot of support from a lot of other people. So, for me, this is more an organizational thing than just one individual."

Wolf resurrected one of the NFL's most storied franchises after arriving in Green Bay late in 1991. Over the next decade, the Packers won three straight NFC Central titles and made back-to-back Super Bowl appearances. They beat New England to win the 1996 championship and lost the next season to Denver.

Wolf's NFL career began as a scout for the Raiders in 1963. He spent 25 seasons in the team's front office during three separate tenures. He was hired as the expansion Tampa Bay Buccaneers' general manager in 1976 and while that team lost every game in its initial season, it made the NFC championship game by its fourth year.

He also headed up the New York Jets' personnel operations.

Polian was the GM for the Bills when they made four consecutive Super Bowls, and for the Colts when they won the championship in 2006. He also built the expansion Carolina Panthers, who made the NFC title game in their second season.

"It's an incredible honor that I never envisioned happening," said Polian, now an analyst for SiriusXM NFL Radio and ESPN.

In a 32-year NFL career with the Chiefs (1978-1982), Bills (1984-1992), Panthers (1995-97), and Colts (1998-2011), plus two years working for the league office, Polian was considered a key decision maker. He served on the NFL's powerful competition committee.

Polian and Wolf were selected by the newly formed Contributor Committee that is comprised of nine members of the overall 46-person selection committee. Through mail vote, the contributor nominees were reduced to a final list of 11 candidates (bylaws specify 10 finalists and ties) that were discussed in detail on Monday. A contributor nominee is an individual who made outstanding contributions to professional football in capacities other than playing or coaching.

The two contributor finalists must receive the same 80 percent voting support that is required of all finalists. The Hall’s Selection Committee, at its annual meeting in January, will consider 18 finalists, including one senior (Mick Tingelhoff), two contributors (Polian and Wolf), and 15 modern-era candidates for a class no smaller than four or larger than eight.

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