On Tuesday, the Pro Football Hall of Fame announced. The list of semi-finalists will be reduced to 15 finalists in January. An official introductory class, which may include up to five contemporary finalists, will be announced prior to Super Bowl LVII.
Several semi-finalists, including Darrell Revis and Joe Thomas, have a chance of being inducted in their first year of eligibility. Other players such as Hines Ward, Torrey Holt and Darren Woodson are hoping this is finally their year after being named semi-finalists again. As in most years, this is a highly competitive field of candidates, which makes the task of choosing a top five for induction unenviable.
In August, the NFL named former linebacker Joe Cleco, defensive end Ken Riley and linebacker Chuck Hawley as this year’s senior finalists, and former coach Don Coryell as the winning finalist. Each finalist must receive 80% of the votes to be inducted.
So, who will be in the introductory class next year? Let’s see how it can shake out.
** denotes first-year players eligible.
Possible contemporary conscripts
** CB Darrell Revis (2007-17): Revis Island has been anything but a vacation spot for NFL players throughout his 10-year career. The seven-time professional bowler has routinely blocked the league’s top wide receivers, making quarterbacks miserable. He helped New England through a 10-year Super Bowl drought in 2014 after leading the Jets to back-to-back AFC title games in 2009-10.
**EDGE Dwight Freeney (2002-17): A formidable pass rusher armed with unrivaled spin. During his career, he collected 125.5 bags, including 107.5 with the Colts. Won the Super Bowl with Indianapolis in 2006 and helped lead the Cardinals to the NFC Championship Game nine years later.
**PR Joe Thomas (2007-17): One of the greatest left tackles in NFL history, Thomas earned 10 consecutive Pro Bowl nominations while being named to the NFL All-Decade Team for the 2010s. The modern-day Iron Man of the NFL, Thomas played in 167 games and took 10,363 shots in a row.
LB Zach Thomas (1996-08): A tackling machine, Thomas won seven Pro Bowl nods and five All-Pros in nine years. In his 13-year career, he totaled 1,734 tackles, 20.5 sacks, 17 interceptions (four of which were returned for touchdowns), 16 forced fumbles, and eight fumble recoveries.
Torrey Holt (1999-09): A key member of the Rams’ Greatest Turf Show offense, Holt caught the first touchdown in the Rams’ Super Bowl win over the Titans. Holt had a long history of statistical superiority, including eight consecutive 1,000-yard rushing seasons. He has led the NFL in receiving yards twice and in receptions once.
Possible senior conscripts
DL Joe Kleko (1977-88): The versatile linesman has earned Pro Bowl praise for his defense, defensive tackle, and nose tackle. He led the NFL with 20.5 sacks in 1981, being a valuable member of the Jets’ “New York Sack Exchange” defense.
LB Chuck Hawley (1958-73): The only Super Bowl MVP on the losing team, Hawley had two assists in Dallas’ 16-13 loss to the Colts in Super Bowl V. He had another steal in Super Bowl VI as the Cowboys defeated the Dolphins to win their first Super Bowl. Bowl. Hawley appeared in six Pro Bowl tournaments and was a five-time All-Pro.
CB Ken Riley (1970-83): Bengal career, Riley’s 65 career interceptions is the fifth most in NFL history. In 1983, his final season, Riley threw eight passes, returning two league-leading touchdowns. Riley will join Anthony Munoz as the only Bengal kept in Canton, Ohio.
Possible guest coach/participant
Don Coryell: Air Coryell’s offensive architect and innovative coach helped modernize the passing game. Coryell led the Cardinals to three straight 10-win seasons and then led the Chargers to four straight playoff games. The Chargers offense remains one of the most prolific in league history, led by future Hall of Famers Dan Fouts, Kellen Winslow and Charlie Joyner.