Emmitt Smith and Rice are part of the list released Saturday that includes 131 players, coaches and contributors.
Hall of Fame selectors will chose 25 semifinalists by Nov. 27, and 15 finalists by Jan. 7.
Voting will take place Feb. 6, the day before the Super Bowl.
Other modern-era nominees include Tim Brown, Herschel Walker, Cris Carter, Andre Reed and Sterling Sharp. Former commissioner Paul Tagliabue is also on the list.
They join two previously announced senior nominees, former Detroit Lions cornerback Dick LeBeau and former Detroit Broncos running back Floyd Little.