Top 2013 Hall of Fame candidates

Jerome Bettis, Bill Parcells and Warren Sapp stand out among potential 2013 HOF candidates. Getty Images/AP Photo/Getty Images

This weekend's Hall of Fame ceremonies will mark the celebratory end to a lifelong journey for six men, but it will also mark the beginning of the ruminations on who should receive a Hall of Fame nomination in 2013.

In reviewing the candidates, it is helpful to remember one of the suggestions Bill James made in regard to gauging Hall of Fame worthiness. James surmised that most of the best contenders for induction into a Hall of Fame would have at least one rare or unique identifier that separated them from most or all of the other candidates. Examples of this from James' sport of choice, baseball, could include Hank Aaron's 755 home runs (unique) or a pitcher notching 300 wins (rare).

There is a glut of candidates from previous Hall of Fame classes who just missed the cut, and that's before you consider the players eligible for the first time in 2013 -- a list that includes Larry Allen, Jonathan Ogden, Michael Strahan, Warren Sapp and Priest Holmes. But using that above criterion, we can sift through the lists to find eight Hall of Fame candidates with rare or unique identifiers that place them ahead of their competition.

Larry Allen, OG, Dallas Cowboys (1994-2005), San Francisco 49ers (2006-07)
Warren Sapp, DT, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1995-2003), Oakland Raiders (2004-07)

Rare/unique identifier: Named to two All-Decade teams

There have been 17 non-specialist players (i.e. not including kickers and punters) who have been named to two separate All-Decade teams. All 15 players from that group who are eligible for the Hall of Fame have been inducted into Canton. Allen and Sapp are the only two who have not been inducted, and they are both in their first year of eligibility and thus will get a shot at making it 17-for-17.