DeMarcus Ware is a finalist for the 2022 Pro Football Hall of Fame – NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

DeMarcus Ware, Andre Johnson and Devin Hester, all in their first year of eligibility, are finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fames class in 2022.

The 15 current players who will be considered on January 18 by the selection committee include tackle Tony Boselli, in his sixth year as a finalist, and defensive lineman Richard Seymour, in his fourth year.

Other finalists announced Thursday are safety Leroy Butler, wide receivers Torry Holt and Reggie Wayne, linebackers Sam Mills and Zach Thomas – all finalists for the third time; defensive linemen Jared Allen and Bryant Young, and cornerback Ronde Barber, two-time finalists; and tackle Willie Anderson and linebacker Patrick Willis, their first time in the final.

A maximum of five current players can be selected for deployment in August to Canton, Ohio, the hall. The inmates will be announced on Feb. 10 on NFL Honors, the television program in prime time, with The Associated Press revealing its individual award winners for the 2021 season.

Three others – Dick Vermeil in the coaching category, Art McNally as a contributor and Cliff Branch as a senior player – are also candidates for the class in 2022. Voting on each of these three will be held individually.

Hester is the rare finalist who mostly made his mark on special teams. He opened the 2007 Super Bowl for Chicago with a 92-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, the only time in Super Bowl history that has taken place. An All-Pro three times, Hester was a member of the NFL’s All-Decade Team in the 2010s and one of two returning specialists on the NFL 100 All-Time Team.

Thomas, a five-time All-Pro, was also a regular on the Miami specialty team, making his mark as one of the surest tacklers in football as an excellent linebacker from 1996-2008, a golden era for the position.

Boselli has been part of a strong group of offensive linemen who have been considered for the Hall of Fame in recent years. Kevin Mawae, Steve Hutchinson and Alan Faneca preceded the former Jaguars star into the hall. A three-time All-Pro, Boselli reached the All-Decade Team in the 1990s despite playing only half a decade.

Like Boselli, Butler is in his 16th year of eligibility. The Packers’ hard-hitting safety, a four-time All-Pro who also joined the All-Decade Team in the 1990s, was among the most versatile defensive backs the game has seen.

The late Mills is under consideration in his 20th and final year of eligibility as a modern candidate. Mills, who was a triple All-Pro who originally made his mark in the USFL, then starred for the Saints and Expansion Panthers – and helped Carolina to the NFC Championship game in its second season.

Ware, a four-time All-Pro, led the Cowboys in sacks for eight seasons, topped the NFL with 20 sacks in 2008 and 15 1/2 in 2010 and won a Super Bowl with Denver for the 2015 season. He finished with 138 1/2 sacks and reached the NFL’s All-Decade Team in the 2000s.

Johnson, the second freshman qualifier in the last 15, came twice to the All-Pro team in a strong time for wide receivers. He led the league in receptions twice (103 in 2006 and 115 in 2008) and in receiving yards twice (1,575 yards in 2008 and 1,569 yards in 2009). Johnson ended his career with 1,062 receptions for 14,185 yards and 70 receiving touchdowns.

Two of his contemporaries, Holt and Wayne, are also in the finals. Holt was selected to the NFL’s All-Decade Team in the 2000s and won a Super Bowl with the 1999 Rams. Wayne retired as the NFL’s second leading receiver ever in the offseason with 93 catches and won a Super Bowl with the Colts.

Anderson was considered one of the elite right tackles in the game in 13 professional seasons with Cincinnati and Baltimore, making three All-Pro teams.

Pass-rushing standout Allen was a four-time All-Pro who led the NFL in sacks twice (2007, 2011) while playing for the Chiefs, Vikings, Bears and Panthers. The versatile Seymour, a three-time All-Pro selected to the NFL’s All-Decade Team in the 2000s, played in four Super Bowls for New England. Young was the 1999 Comeback Player of the Year and had 89 1/2 of careers for San Francisco while being named to the NFL’s All-Decade Team in the 1990s.

Young’s last season in 2007 was the first for Willis with the 49ers – and he won Defensive Rookie of the Year. A member of the NFL’s All-Decade Team in the 2010s, he was an All-Pro five times.

Barber was one of the league’s most stingy cover-cornerbacks in his 26 seasons in Tampa, where he also played some safety. A key to the Cover-2 defensive plan, Barber was a three-time All-Pro and a member of the NFL’s All-Decade Team in the 2000s. He led the NFL with 10 interceptions in 2001 and won a Super Bowl the next season.


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