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Dick LeBeau, Floyd Little move closer to Canton

During his “Wake Me Up When September Ends” induction speech earlier this month in Canton, former NFL defensive back Rod Woodson lobbied for the placement of Dick LeBeau’s bronze bust in the Hall of Fame.

Woodson’s plea, unlike most of the rest of his speech, wasn’t ignored.

The Hall of Fame’s Seniors Committee has nominated LeBeau and Broncos running back Floyd Little for enshrinement in 2010.

They’ll join the 15 traditional finalists for consideration on the Saturday before the Super Bowl.

The difference? Of the 15, five at most will make it. As to LeBeau and Little, both can get in -- if they each get the votes.

LeBeau was a starting cornerback for 14 seasons with the Lions. He has since spent 37 years in coaching.

He’s being considered based on his performance as a player -- since he’s still in the league, he wouldn’t be eligible for enshrinement due to his stellar work as an assistant coach. (Though we’re not reluctant to smooch his LeButt, we just can’t call his work as a head coach stellar, given that he was 12-33 with the Bengals.) Still, it will be hard for the voters to ignore the full body of LeBeau’s work when the time comes to cast the ballots.

Little, a five-time Pro Bowler, churned out more than 12,000 yards during a nine-year career. He led the NFL in rushing during the 1971 season, with 1,133 yards. He widely was regarded as one of the best running backs of the era in which the NFL and the AFL began to consistently capture the attention and imagination of the American public on a widespread basis.

We assume that Hall of Fame coach John Madden is pulling for LeBeau to get in, so that LeBeau’s bust can recite The Night Before Christmas for the other busts each and every December 24.