The NFL is announcing the 2022 class of entrants into the Pro Football Hall of Fame at its annual NFL Honors program tonight. The league started with 122 nominees for the Hall of Fame, then narrowed it down to 26 semi-finalists and now to these 15 finalists. There were three players who made the cut in their first year of eligibility: wide receiver Andre Johnson, linebacker DeMarcus Ware and returner Devin Hester.
Between four and eight new inductees are normally enshrined every year and last year we saw six modern day players, one head coach and one contributor make it in — quarterback Peyton Manning, wide receiver Calvin Johnson, wide receiver Drew Pearson, guard Alan Faneca, cornerback/safety Charles Woodson, safety John Lynch, contributor Bill Nunn, and coach Tom Flores.
Unlike Peyton Manning last year, there are no players who are 100% shoe-ins, so there could be some surprises in the announcements tonight. The pure brilliance of Devin Hester as a return man should get him in the Hall-of-Fame, but some might not think he deserves to be a first-ballot player, while players like Patrick Willis and DeMarcus Ware dominated on a much larger percentage of plays per game.
Will Torry Holt finally get in? This looks like it could be the year, but Steve Smith is also a possibility at the receiver position, while Andre Johnson likely won’t get in on his first ballot.
The 2022 modern-era player finalists:
- Jared Allen, DE – 2004-2007 Kansas City Chiefs, 2008-2013 Minnesota Vikings, 2014-2015 Chicago Bears, 2015 Carolina Panthers
- Willie Anderson, OT — 1996-2007 Cincinnati Bengals, 2008 Baltimore Ravens
- Ronde Barber, DB – 1997-2012 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Tony Boselli, T — 1995-2001 Jacksonville Jaguars, 2002 Houston Texans (injured reserve)
- LeRoy Butler, S — 1990-2001 Green Bay Packers
- Devin Hester, PR/KR/WR — 2006-2013 Chicago Bears, 2014-2015 Atlanta Falcons, 2016 Baltimore Ravens, 2016 Seattle Seahawks
- Torry Holt, WR — 1999-2008 St. Louis Rams, 2009 Jacksonville Jaguars
- Andre Johnson, WR — 2003-2014 Houston Texans, 2015 Indianapolis Colts, 2016 Tennessee Titans
- Sam Mills, LB — 1986-1994 New Orleans Saints, 1995-97 Carolina Panthers
- Richard Seymour, DE/DT — 2001-08 New England Patriots, 2009-2012 Oakland Raiders
- Zach Thomas, LB — 1996-2007 Miami Dolphins, 2008 Dallas Cowboys
- DeMarcus Ware, LB — 2005-2013 Dallas Cowboys, 2014-2016 Denver Broncos
- Reggie Wayne, WR — 2001-2014 Indianapolis Colts
- Patrick Willis, LB — 2007-2014 San Francisco 49ers
- Bryant Young, DE/DT — 1994-2007 San Francisco 49ers
In addition to the modern-era finalists will be senior finalist Cliff Branch, contributor finalist Art McNally and coach finalist Dick Vermeil.