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Pro Football HOF Announces Modern-Era Nominees For Class Of 2022 (With Commentary)

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The Pro Football Hall of Fame has just released its list of 122 modern-era nominees for the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2022, and while there are some impressive first-year eligible players, it’s not like last year.

There are no Peyton Mannings or Charles Woodsons in this group.

Among the 10 first-year eligibles announced Wednesday are wide receivers Anquan Boldin, Devin Hester (also PR/KR), Andre Johnson and Steve Smith.

Former Dolphins offensive lineman Jake Long and New York Jets center Nick Mangold are on the list.

Former Dallas and Denver Broncos linebacker DeMarcus Ware, who collected 138.5 sacks during his career, is perhaps the player with the best chance of advancing to the list of semi-finalists and then finalists.

The roster of nominees consists of 65 offensive players, 46 defensive players and 11 special
teams players. The list of modern-era nominees will be reduced to 25 semifinalists in November and then to 15 finalists in January.

This full list with commentary:

QUARTERBACKS – Randall Cunningham, Jake Delhomme, Boomer Esiason, Jeff Garcia, Dave
Krieg, Donovan McNabb, Steve McNair.

COMMENT: Nope, sorry.

RUNNING BACKS – Shaun Alexander, Mike Alstott (FB), Tiki Barber, Earnest Byner, Larry Centers, Corey Dillon, Eddie George, Priest Holmes, Steven Jackson, Jamal Lewis, Eric Metcalf (also WR/PR/KR), Lorenzo Neal (FB), Fred Taylor, Herschel Walker (also KR), Ricky Watters, Brian Westbrook.

COMMENT: Herschel Walker was perhaps the most talented of this group, but he’s not close to 10,000 career yards because he spent time in the USFL. Lewis is 25th on the on the NFL list of all time leading rushers, while Watters is 24th. Corey Dillon is 20th. Stephen Jackson is 18th. Fred Taylor is 17th on that list. Speaks for itself.

WIDE RECEIVERS – Anquan Boldin, Troy Brown (also PR/KR), Donald Driver, Henry Ellard (also
PR), Devin Hester (also PR/KR), *Torry Holt, Joe Horn, Andre Johnson, Chad Johnson, Derrick
Mason, Muhsin Muhammad, Andre Rison, Jimmy Smith, Rod Smith, Steve Smith, Hines Ward,
*Reggie Wayne, Wes Welker.

COMMENT: Look for Wayne and Holt, who have reached finalists status in previous years, to advance. Ward, Johnson and Johnson were great. Really great. But first-ballot great?

TIGHT ENDS – Dallas Clark, Ben Coates, Brent Jones, Heath Miller, Wesley Walls.

COMMENT: Nope, not happening.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN – Willie Anderson (T), Matt Birk (C), *Tony Boselli (T), Lomas Brown (T),
Ruben Brown (G), D’Brickashaw Ferguson (T), Kevin Glover (C/G), Jordan Gross (T), Olin Kreutz
(C), Jake Long (T), Nick Mangold (C), Logan Mankins (G), Jesse Sapolu (C/G), Jeff Saturday (C),
Chris Snee (G), Brian Waters (G), Richmond Webb (T), Erik Williams (T), Steve Wisniewski (G).

COMMENT: The Boselli candidacy has been steadily increasing in strength the past three years. Ferguson, Brown, Kreutz, Mankins, Williams, Waters were amazing. Former Dolphins great Richmond Webb is on the list but he remains a longshot to advance.

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN – John Abraham (DE also LB), *Jared Allen (DE), La’Roi Glover (DT/NT),
Casey Hampton (DT/NT), Robert Mathis (DE), Leslie O’Neal (DE), Michael Dean Perry (DT/DE),
Simeon Rice (DE), *Richard Seymour (DT), Justin Smith (DE), Neil Smith (DE), Greg Townsend
(DE/LB/DT/NT), Justin Tuck (DE), Vince Wilfork (DT/NT), Kevin Williams (DT), Bryant Young
(DT).

COMMENT: Seymour has advanced in the past and is expected to do so again. So will Allen. Rice is 20th among all time sack leaders as is O’Neal (tied for 14th) and Mathis (19th) and Abraham (13th). Crowded field.

LINEBACKERS – Cornelius Bennett, Lance Briggs, Tedy Bruschi, London Fletcher, Seth Joyner,
Willie McGinest (also DE), *Sam Mills, Hardy Nickerson Sr., Takeo Spikes, Pat Swilling (also DE),
*Zach Thomas, DeMarcus Ware, Patrick Willis.

COMMENT: Ware is going to get support. Thomas has had support the last two years in making it to the finals. Patrick Willis and McGinest were great. Bennett, Bruschi and Biggs may advance but how far?

DEFENSIVE BACKS – Eric Allen (CB), *Ronde Barber (CB/S), Dre Bly (DB), *LeRoy Butler (S),
Nick Collins (S), Antonio Cromartie (CB), Merton Hanks (S), Rodney Harrison (S), Albert Lewis
(CB), Tim McDonald (S), Allen Rossum (DB), Asante Samuel (CB), Bob Sanders (S), Charles
Tillman (CB), Troy Vincent (CB), Adrian Wilson (S), Darren Woodson (S)

COMMENT: Cowboys fans believe Woodson belongs and it’s hard to argue against him. Butler, Barber will definitely advance.

PUNTERS/KICKERS – Gary Anderson (K), Jeff Feagles (P), John Kasay (K), Sean Landeta (P),
Ryan Longwell (K), Reggie Roby (P), Matt Turk (P)

COMMENT: Anderson and Feagles both had the longevity of a fossil. The other guys were very good. But this is the Hall of Fame.

SPECIAL TEAMS – Josh Cribbs (KR/PR also WR), Mel Gray (PR/KR also WR), Brian Mitchell
(KR/PR also RB), Steve Tasker (ST or WR).

COMMENT: Cribbs is obviously the class of this group but, with respect to the former Cleveland Browns great, Devin Hester was the greatest return man perhaps of all time. Cribbs collected 11 return TDs in his career. Hester had 19.

Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero


Written by Armando Salguero

Armando Salguero has covered the NFL since 1990 for the Palm Beach Post, Miami Herald and ESPN. He was a 2016 Associated Press Sports Editors Top 10 columnist. He is a Pro Football Hall of Fame selector and AP All-Pro team voter.

2 Comments

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  1. I get where you’re coming from on Herschel Walker compiling some of his stats in the USFL, but this is the *Pro Football* Hall of Fame, not the NFL Hall of Fame. I don’t recall Reggie White’s time in the USFL being held against his ultimate induction in Canton.

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