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Pro Football Hall of Fame names semifinalists

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The Pro Football Hall of Fame has announced the 25 semifinalists for its Class of 2021.

The list – reduced from 130 nominees announced in September – will be further winnowed down to 15 finalists (note: this number will actually increase to 18 following the inclusion of the recommended nominees from the Coach, Contributor and Senior Committees) before the class is ultimately determined and announced during Super Bowl Week in Tampa.

There is no set number of inductees for any class, but the Hall’s bylaws state that there will be anywhere from four to eight enshrines.

It’s an impressive list of players – no surprise there – that includes at least one slam-dunk first-time nominee and a couple of other incredibly impressive first-year picks, all of whom will almost certainly make the list of finalists at the very least.

Let’s look at those first-time eligible names, shall we?

First on the list, the easiest choice that any of these voters will ever have to make, is Peyton Manning. Anyone with even a passing knowledge of the game knows Manning, who spent his 17 years in the league helping to redefine the possibilities of the quarterback position. His name is all over the record book. Single season marks? He holds the records for both most yards (5,477) and TD passes (55), set in 2013. Career totals? His 71,940 yards and 539 TDs are both third all-time. He’s the leader in both comebacks (43) and game-winning drives (54). He’s a five-time MVP – easily the most ever – and one of just two QBs with at least 200 total wins. He made 14 Pro Bowls and was named First Team All-Pro seven times. Oh, and he’s the only QB to win Super Bowls with multiple franchises. As big a no-brainer as there is.

But while Manning is the clear top dog, the three guys joining him on the list in their first year of eligibility are plenty impressive in their own rights.

Calvin Johnson is one of the great what-ifs in recent NFL history. His first nine years in the league were among the best that any receiver had ever put up. They were also his only nine years; Johnson walked away from the sport at age 30. That means, obviously, that his career numbers aren’t as wildly impressive as some of his peers – hell, he could easily still be playing at a high level today if he had stuck around. Still, he’d warrant a look just for his 2012 season alone (122 catches, 1,964 yards, 12 TDs); that yardage number is the largest single-season receiving total ever. In his nine years, he made six Pro Bowls and was named First Team All-Pro three times. A short career, but a Hall of Fame one nevertheless, though the Hall’s reticence to induct wideouts might hold him up for a year or two.

Charles Woodson is universally considered one of the best defensive players of his era. Over the course of his 18 years in the league – 11 with Oakland, seven with Green Bay – he pulled down 65 interceptions, good enough for fifth all time. He returned 11 of those for touchdowns, tying him for second all-time in that category. Toss in his two fumble recoveries and he’s tied for fifth in non-offensive scores. He had nearly 1,000 career interception return yards and his 183 passes defended ranks fifth all-time. He’s the only player with 25 or more picks for two different teams. He made nine Pro Bowls, three All-Pro first teams and was the 2009 Defensive Player of the Year. Oh, and he’s the only primarily defensive player to win the Heisman – sure, it’s the Pro Football Hall, but still.

Last among the newcomers – though he’d rank higher in a less star-studded group – is defensive lineman Jared Allen. In his 12-year career, Allen led the league in sacks twice, including 22 in 2011 (tied for the second-highest single-season total ever). His career total of 136 sacks puts him at 12th all-time. His four safeties are tied for the most ever, along with two dudes whose careers ended in the mid-1980s. His 171 tackles for a loss are third-most ever. He’s a five-time Pro Bowler and was named to the All-Pro first team four times. Again, he’s fourth among the four newcomers, but he’s still got a hell of a case.

Other first-time semifinalists (though not in their first years of eligibility) include cornerback Eric Allen, offensive tackle Willie Anderson, linebacker Cornelius Bennett and safety Rodney Harrison. Repeat semifinalists are DB Ronde Barber, OT Tony Boselli, S LeRoy Butler, OG Alan Faneca, WR Torry Holt, S John Lynch, LB Clay Matthews, LB Sam Mills, DL Richard Seymour, ST Steve Tasker, RB Fred Taylor, LB Zach Thomas, WR Hines Ward, WR Reggie Wayne, LB Patrick Willis, S Darren Woodson and DT Bryant Young.

Last modified on Tuesday, 01 December 2020 09:18

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