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Kreutz, Hilgenberg HOF nominees

Two former Bears star centers and a third who is a member of the team's coaching staff are among 94 modern-era nominees for the Pro Football Hall of Fame's Class of 2017.

Olin Kreutz, who played 13 seasons with the Bears from 1998-2010, is among several players nominated in their first year of eligibility. The fiery center from Washington appeared in 191 games with 183 starts, one shy of Hall of Fame running back Walter Payton's franchise record.

Selected to six straight Pro Bowls from 2001-06, Kreutz was a respected and sometimes-feared team leader who helped the Bears win four division championships and one conference title.

Another nominee, former center Jay Hilgenberg, anchored one of the best offensive lines in NFL history during 11 seasons with the Bears from 1981-91.

Hilgenberg was a dominant player at his position, starting seven consecutive Pro Bowls from 1985-91 and helping the Bears win the Super Bowl in 1985 and lead the NFL in rushing for four straight years from 1983-86.

Former NFL center Kevin Mawae, who is in his first season as a Bears offensive assistant, is another nominee. He was voted to eight Pro Bowls while appearing in 241 games with 232 starts over 16 seasons with the Seahawks (1994-97), Jets (1998-2005) and Titans (2006-09).

The modern-era nominees will be reduced to 25 semifinalists in November and 15 finalists in January. The 15 finalists will be joined by senior finalist Kenny Easley and contributor finalists Jerry Jones and Paul Tagliabue.

The Selection Committee will meet in Houston on Feb. 4, 2017, the night before the Super Bowl, and elect 4-8 new members of the Hall of Fame.

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