by Frank Cooney

Pro Football Hall of Fame 28 Semifinalists for Class of 2023: Let the discussions begin

February 1, 2023
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CANTON, OHIO – Five first-year eligible nominees are among the 28 Modern-Era Player Semifinalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2023.

The list of candidates for election into the Hall of Fame, which will occur early next year, also includes 19 players who were Semifinalists for the Class of 2022.

Modern-Era Players making the cut to Semifinalist in their first year of eligibility are offensive linemen Jahri Evans and Joe Thomas, defensive lineman Dwight Freeney, linebacker James Harrison and defensive back Darrelle Revis. Each last played in the 2017 season.

To be considered for election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, a nominated individual must not have participated as an active player for five consecutive seasons.

Wide receiver Henry Ellard, who retired following the 1998 season, reached the Semifinalist stage for the first time. Linebacker London Fletcher also is a first-time Semifinalist; he retired following the 2013 season. Defensive back Albert Lewis, a Semifinalist in 2013 who also retired in 1998, advanced to this stage for the second time. Both Ellard and Lewis are in their final year of eligibility as Modern-Era Players.

 The 28 Semifinalists will be reduced again – to 15 Finalists – before the final voting process for the Class of 2023.


The following is the list of 2023 Modern-Era Player Semifinalists, including their positions, years and teams. Also listed are the number of times and years the candidate has been named a Semifinalist since this reduction vote was added to the Hall’s Bylaws in 2004. (NOTE: The Bylaws state the number of Semifinalists shall be 25 – or a larger number if players tie for the 25th position.)

 ·       Eric Allen, CB – 1988-1994 Philadelphia Eagles, 1995-97 New Orleans Saints, 1998-2001 Oakland Raiders | (Times as a Semifinalist: 3 – 2021-23)

·       Jared Allen, DE – 2004-07 Kansas City Chiefs, 2008-2013 Minnesota Vikings, 2014-15 Chicago Bears, 2015 Carolina Panthers | (Times as a Semifinalist: 3 – 2021-23)

·       Willie Anderson, T – 1996-2007 Cincinnati Bengals, 2008 Baltimore Ravens | (Times as a Semifinalist: 3 – 2021-23)

·       Ronde Barber, CB/S – 1997-2012 Tampa Bay Buccaneers | (Times as a Semifinalist: 6 – 2018-2023)

·       MODERN-ERA PLAYER SEMIFINALISTS BREAKDOWN OFFENSE – 12 RB (2): Fred Taylor, Ricky Watters WR (7): Anquan Boldin, Henry Ellard, Torry Holt, Andre Johnson, Steve Smith Sr., Hines Ward, Reggie Wayne OL (3): Willie Anderson, Jahri Evans, Joe Thomas DEFENSE – 15 DB (6): Eric Allen, Ronde Barber, Rodney Harrison, Albert Lewis, Darrelle Revis, Darren Woodson LB (5): London Fletcher, James Harrison, Zach Thomas, DeMarcus Ware (also DE), Patrick Willis DL (4): Jared Allen, Dwight Freeney, Robert Mathis (also LB), Vince Wilfork SPECIAL TEAMS – 1 Devin Hester (also WR) Anquan Boldin, WR – 2003-09 Arizona Cardinals, 2010-12 Baltimore Ravens, 2013-15 San Francisco 49ers, 2016 Detroit Lions | (Times as a Semifinalist: 2 – 2022-23)

·       Henry Ellard, WR – 1983-1993 Los Angeles Rams, 1994-98 Washington Redskins, 1998 New England Patriots | (Times as a Semifinalist: 1 – 2023)

·       Jahri Evans, G – 2006-2016 New Orleans Saints, 2017 Green Bay Packers | (Times as a Semifinalist: 1 – 2023)

·       London Fletcher, LB – 1998-2001 St. Louis Rams, 2002-06 Buffalo Bills, 2007-2013 Washington Redskins | (Times as a Semifinalist: 1 – 2023)

·       Dwight Freeney, DE – 2002-2012 Indianapolis Colts, 2013-14 San Diego Chargers, 2015 Arizona Cardinals, 2016 Atlanta Falcons, 2017 Seattle Seahawks, 2017 Detroit Lions | (Times as a Semifinalist: 1 – 2023)

·       James Harrison, LB – 2002-2012, 2014-17 Pittsburgh Steelers, 2013 Cincinnati Bengals, 2017 New England Patriots | (Times as a Semifinalist: 1 – 2023)

·       Rodney Harrison, S – 1994-2002 San Diego Chargers, 2003-08 New England Patriots | (Times as a Semifinalist: 2 – 2021, 2023)

·       Devin Hester, PR/KR/WR – 2006-2013 Chicago Bears, 2014-15 Atlanta Falcons, 2016 Baltimore Ravens | (Times as a Semifinalist: 2 – 2022-23)

·       Torry Holt, WR – 1999-2008 St. Louis Rams, 2009 Jacksonville Jaguars | (Times as a Semifinalist: 9 – 2015-2023)

·       Andre Johnson, WR – 2003-2014 Houston Texans, 2015 Indianapolis Colts, 2016 Tennessee Titans | (Times as a Semifinalist: 2 – 2022-23)

·       Albert Lewis, CB – 1983-1993 Kansas City Chiefs, 1994-98 Los Angeles/Oakland Raiders | (Times as a Semifinalist: 2 – 2013, 2023)

·       Robert Mathis, DE/LB – 2003-2016 Indianapolis Colts | (Times as a Semifinalist: 2 – 2022-23)

·       Darrelle Revis, CB – 2007-2012, 2015-16 New York Jets, 2013 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 2014 New England Patriots, 2017 Kansas City Chiefs | (Times as a Semifinalist: 1 – 2023)

·       Steve Smith Sr., WR – 2001-2013 Carolina Panthers, 2014-16 Baltimore Ravens | (Times as a Semifinalist: 2 – 2022-23)

·       Fred Taylor, RB – 1998-2008 Jacksonville Jaguars, 2009-2010 New England Patriots (Times as a Semifinalist: 4 – 2020-23)

·       Joe Thomas, T – 2007-2017 Cleveland Browns | (Times as a Semifinalist: 1 – 2023)

·       Zach Thomas, LB – 1996-2007 Miami Dolphins, 2008 Dallas Cowboys | (Times as a Semifinalist: 5 – 2019-2023)

·       Hines Ward, WR – 1998-2011 Pittsburgh Steelers | (Times as a Semifinalist: 7 – 2017-2023)

·       DeMarcus Ware, LB/DE – 2005-2013 Dallas Cowboys, 2014-16 Denver Broncos | (Times as a Semifinalist: 2 – 2022-23)

·       Ricky Watters, RB – 1992-94 San Francisco 49ers, 1995-97 Philadelphia Eagles, 1998-2001 Seattle Seahawks | (Times as a Semifinalist: 3 – 2020, 2022-23)

·       Reggie Wayne, WR – 2001-2014 Indianapolis Colts (Times as a Semifinalist: 4 – 2020-23)

·       Vince Wilfork, DT – 2004-2014 New England Patriots, 2015-16 Houston Texans | (Times as a Semifinalist: 2 – 2022-23)

·       Patrick Willis, LB – 2007-2014 San Francisco 49ers (Times as a Semifinalist: 4 – 2020-23)

·       Darren Woodson, S – 1992-2003 Dallas Cowboys (Times as a Semifinalist: 7 – 2015, 2017, 2019-2023)

The list of Semifinalists was reduced from an initial group of 129 nominees announced in September. It marks the largest number of Semifinalists since the Hall adopted the process of reducing the list of nominees to 25 (plus ties) in 2004.

The next step in the Selection Process comes when the Semifinalists are trimmed to 15 Modern-Era Player Finalists, which will be announced in early January. That list increases to 19 Finalists with the inclusion of the recommended Nominees of the Hall of Fame’s Coach/Contributor Committee, Don Coryell; and Seniors Committee, Chuck HowleyJoe Klecko and Ken Riley.

 The Hall of Fame’s 49-person Selection Committee will select the Class of 2023 in advance of Super Bowl LVII in Glendale, Ariz. The class will be announced live on the “NFL Honors” telecast scheduled to air at 9 p.m. ET Feb. 9. While there is no set number for any class of enshrinees, the Bylaws for the Selection Committee provide that between four and nine new members will be selected. 

 The Coach/Contributor and Seniors Finalists are voted “yes” or “no” for election at the annual selection meeting and must receive at least 80% support from the Committee to be elected. The Modern-Era Player Finalists will be trimmed during the meeting from 15 to 10, then from 10 to five. The remaining five finalists will be voted on individually, “yes” or “no,” and must receive the same 80% positive vote as the Coach/Contributor and Seniors Finalists to earn election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

The Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2023 will be enshrined next August (anticipated date: Aug. 5) in Canton as part of the 2023 Enshrinement Week Powered by Johnson Controls. Other events during the week of festivities include the Hall of Fame Game (teams to be determined) and the Gold Jacket Dinner. 

2023 Modern-Era Player Nominees by Position

*Finalist in 2022. Underline indicates first year of eligibility. (Players must have last played at least five full seasons ago to be eligible for nomination. Therefore, any individual who last played in 2017 is eligible for the first time in 2023.)

QUARTERBACKS (6): Randall Cunningham, Jake Delhomme, Jeff Garcia, Dave Krieg, Donovan McNabb, Steve McN0air.

RUNNING BACKS (17): Shaun Alexander, Mike Alstott (FB), Tiki Barber, Larry Centers (FB), Corey Dillon, Warrick D0unn, Eddie George, Priest Holmes, Steven Jackson, Chris Johnson, Vonta Leach (FB), Jamal Lewis, Eric Metcalf (also WR/PR/KR), Lorenzo Neal (FB), Fred Taylor, Ricky Watters, Brian Westbrook.

WIDE RECEIVERS (20): Anquan Boldin, Troy Brown (also PR/KR), Donald Driver, Henry Ellard (also PR), Irving Fryar, *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 Sr., Hines Ward, *Reggie Wayne, Wes Welker, Roddy White.

TIGHT ENDS (3): Dallas Clark, Ben Coates, Wesley Walls.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (21): *Willie Anderson (T), Matt Birk (C), Lomas Brown (T), Ruben Brown (G), Jahri Evans (G),  D’Brickashaw Ferguson (T), Kevin Glover (C/G), Jordan Gross (T), Olin Kreutz (C), Nick Mangold (C), Logan Mankins (G), Tom Nalen (C), Nate Newton (G/T), Jeff Saturday (C), Mark Schlereth (G/C), Chris Snee (G), Joe Thomas (T), Brian Waters (G), Richmond Webb (T), Erik Williams (T), Steve Wisniewski (G).

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN (14): John Abraham (DE, also LB), *Jared Allen (DE), Dwight Freeney (DE), La’Roi Glover (DT/NT), Casey Hampton (DT/NT), Robert Mathis (DE), Leslie O’Neal (DE), Simeon Rice (DE), Clyde Simmons (DE/DT), Justin Smith (DE), Neil Smith (DE), Justin Tuck (DE), Vince Wilfork (DT/NT), Kevin Williams (DT/DE).

LINEBACKERS (17): Jessie Armstead, Cornelius Bennett, NaVorro Bowman, Lance Briggs, Chad Brown, Tedy Bruschi, James Farrior, London Fletcher, James Harrison, Seth Joyner, Willie McGinest (also DE), Takeo Spikes, Pat Swilling (also DE), *Zach Thomas, *DeMarcus Ware, *Patrick Willis, Al Wilson.

DEFENSIVE BACKS (19): Eric Allen (CB), *Ronde Barber (CB/S), Dre’ Bly (CB), Kam

Chancellor (S), Nick Collins (S), Antonio Cromartie (CB), Merton Hanks (S), Rodney Harrison (S), Albert Lewis (CB), Terry McDaniel (CB), Tim McDonald (S), Darrelle Revis (CB), Allen Rossum (CB), Asante Samuel (CB), Bob Sanders (S), Charles Tillman (CB), Troy Vincent (CB), Adrian Wilson (S), Darren Woodson (S).

PUNTERS/KICKERS (10): Gary Anderson (K), Jason Elam (K), Jeff Feagles (P), Jason Hanson (K), John Kasay, (K), Sean Landeta (P), Shane Lechler (P), Ryan Longwell (K), Pat McAfee (P), Matt Turk (P).

SPECIAL TEAMS (2): Josh Cribbs (KR/PR also WR), Brian Mitchell (KR/PR also RB).

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