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15 Modern-Era Player Finalists Announced for HOF's Class of 2021

15 Modern-Era Player Finalists Announced for HOF's Class of 2021

01/05/2021
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The 15 Modern-Era Player Finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2021 is comprised of six individuals who are finalists for the first time, including four first-year eligible players: defensive end Jared Allen, wide receiver Calvin Johnson, quarterback Peyton Manning and defensive back Charles Woodson. Two others — defensive back Ronde Barber and linebacker Clay Matthews Jr. — have been eligible for the Hall of Fame previously, but this year marks their first time as finalists.

The 15 Modern-Era Player Finalists will be considered for election to the Hall of Fame when the Hall’s Selection Committee meets virtually January 19, 2021. The full committee will elect up to five Modern-Era Players, who must receive a minimum positive vote of 80 percent for election. Three others — Tom Flores, Bill Nunn and Drew Pearson, the finalists in the Coach, Contributor and Senior categories, respectively — also are candidates for the Class of 2021. Voting on each will be held individually, in conjunction with the meeting to decide the Modern-Era Player Finalists.

The Modern-Era Player Finalists were determined by a vote of the Hall’s Selection Committee from a list of 130 nominees named in September that was reduced to 25 Semifinalists on Nov. 24.

The 2021 Modern-Era Player Finalists with their positions, years and teams:

 

Times As Finalist | Years of Eligibility | Finalist Bios | NFL Honors

Ford HOF Fan Vote | Enshrinement Week Powered by Johnson Controls

 

TIMES AS FINALIST

Player

Times

Years

Jared Allen

1

2021

Ronde Barber

1

2021

Tony Boselli

5

2017-2021

Leroy Butler

2

2020-21

Alan Faneca

6

2016-2021

Torry Holt

2

2020-21

Calvin Johnson

1

2021

John Lynch

8

2014-2021

Peyton Manning

1

2021

Clay Matthews Jr.

1

2021

Sam Mills

2

2020-21

Richard Seymour

3

2019-2021

Zach Thomas

2

2020-21

Reggie Wayne

2

2020-21

Charles Woodson

1

2021

 

 

YEARS OF ELIGIBILITY

To be eligible for election, Modern-Era Players must have last played more than five seasons ago.

Year of Eligibility

Finalist

1st

Jared Allen, Calvin Johnson, Peyton Manning, Charles Woodson

2nd

Reggie Wayne

4th

Ronde Barber, Richard Seymour

6th

Alan Faneca

7th

Torry Holt

8th

Zach Thomas

9th

John Lynch

15th

Tony Boselli, LeRoy Butler

19th

Sam Mills

20th

Clay Matthews Jr.

 

CLASS OF 2021 FINALISTS

 

JARED ALLEN

HOF Finalist: 1 | Year of Eligibility: 1
Position: Defensive End

Ht: 6-6, Wt: 270

NFL Career: 2004-07 Kansas City Chiefs, 2008-2013 Minnesota Vikings,

2014-15 Chicago Bears, 2015 Carolina Panthers

Seasons: 12, Games: 187

College: Idaho State

Drafted: 4th Round (126th Overall), 2004

Born: April 3, 1982 in Dallas, Texas

Buck Buchanan Award winner and Big Sky Conference Defensive Player of the Year out of Idaho State … Fourth round draft pick (126th overall) by the Kansas City Chiefs … 12-year NFL career, started 181 of 187 career games … Member of the Carolina Panthers 2015 NFC Championship team … Started in Super Bowl 50; amassed one tackle and one QB hit … Led the NFL in sacks twice (2007, 2011) … 2007 Kansas City Chiefs Team MVP … NFL Alumni Player of the Year, 2009 … Career Stats: six interceptions, a fumble recovery for TD, 58 passes defensed and 136 sacks … Tied NFL record for career safeties, four … Five Pro Bowl nods (2008-2010, 2012-13) … Named First-Team All-Pro four times 2007-09, 2011.

 

RONDE BARBER

HOF Finalist: 1 | Year of Eligibility: 4
Position: Cornerback/Safety

Ht: 5-10, Wt: 186

NFL Career: 1997-2012 Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Seasons: 16, Games: 241

College: Virginia

Drafted: 3rd Round (66th overall), 1997

Born: April 7, 1975 in Montgomery County, Virginia

Combined durability with productivity … Played in 241 regular-season games over 16 seasons … Started 215 consecutive regular-season games (224 counting postseason) … Finished career with 47 regular-season interceptions for 923 return yards and eight touchdowns — all Tampa Bay franchise records … Totaled 14 defensive and special teams touchdowns (8 INT, 4 FR and 2 on deflected punts) … Twice intercepted three passes in a game and six times forced at least two turnovers in a game … NFL’s all-time leader in sacks for cornerback … Only player in NFL history with a least 45 interceptions and 25 sacks … Three-time All-Pro … Selected to five Pro Bowls … Member of NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 2000s … Led NFL with 10 interceptions in 2001 … Led Buccaneers in interceptions six times … Voted team captain nine times … Buccaneers’ winner of Ed Block Courage Award in 2011 … Full name is Jamael Oronde Barber.

 

TONY BOSELLI

HOF Finalist: 5 | Year of Eligibility: 15
Position: Tackle

Ht: 6-7, Wt: 324

NFL Career: 1995-2001 Jacksonville Jaguars

Seasons: 7, Games: 91

College: Southern California

Drafted: 1st Round (2nd Overall), 1995

Born: April 17, 1972 in Modesto, California

Quickly became face of the expansion franchise … Sat out rookie training camp with knee injury, saw first action in Week 4 … First career start came following week in franchise’s first victory … Earned All-Rookie honors … Regarded as an elite tackle in the NFL during career … Noted for superb foot speed and agility … Persevered through numerous injuries … Leader of team that led expansion Jaguars to AFC championship game by second season … Anchored offensive line that helped team to four straight playoff appearances with records of 9-7, 11-5, 11-5 and 14-2 from 1996-99 … Picked as team’s Most Valuable Player in 1998 after helping Jaguars to team’s first division title …  Voted to five straight Pro Bowls (1997-2001) … Named First-Team All-Pro three consecutive seasons … Selected to the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 1990s despite only playing in half of the decade … Suffered severe shoulder injury that ultimately ended career and was placed on injured reserve after three games, 2001 … Houston Texans’ first pick of 2002 expansion draft but injury prevented him from playing again.

 

LEROY BUTLER

HOF Finalist: 2 | Year of Eligibility: 15
Position: Safety

Ht: 6-0, Wt: 197

NFL Career: 1990-2001 Green Bay Packers

Seasons: 12, Games: 181

College: Florida State

Drafted: 2nd Round (48th Overall), 1990

Born: July 19, 1968 in Jacksonville, Florida

One of the most prolific defensive backs in the Packers’ storied history and among premier safeties of his era … Led the team in interceptions five times … Key member of defense that guided team’s resurgence that included seven playoff appearances in nine-season span … Helped lead Packers to three straight division titles (1995-97) and two Super Bowl appearances … Started at strong safety in three consecutive NFC Championship Games and Super Bowls XXXI and XXXII … Had seven tackles and one sack in Packers’ 35-21 victory over New England Patriots in Super Bowl XXXI …  Intercepted a pass in every season but his last … Career stats: 38 interceptions for 533 yards … Only pick-six came on 90-yard return versus San Diego Chargers, Sept. 15, 1996 … Registered 20.5 career sacks and one fumble recovery for a TD … Selected to four Pro Bowls … All-Pro four times (1993, 1996, 1997, 1998) … Named to NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 1990s.

 

ALAN FANECA

HOF Finalist: 6 | Year of Eligibility: 6
Position: Guard

Ht: 6-4, Wt: 322

NFL Career: 1998-2007 Pittsburgh Steelers, 2008-09 New York Jets,
2010 Arizona Cardinals

Seasons: 13, Games: 206

College: Louisiana State

Drafted: 1st Round (26th Overall), 1998

Born: Dec. 7, 1976 in New Orleans, Louisiana

Missed just one game in career … Earned starting role in sixth game of rookie season … Helped pave way for 1,000-yard rushing season by Jerome Bettis to earn All-Rookie acclaim … Key leader of Steelers team that captured four division titles, including three in four-year span … Helped Steelers post 10-plus wins five times, including regular-season records of 13-3 (2001) and 15-1 (2004) … Veteran leadership integral to Jets playoff run to reach AFC championship in 2009 … Named All-Pro (first team) six times (2001-02, 2004-07) and second team in 2003 and 2008 … All-AFC seven consecutive seasons, 2001-07 … Selected to nine consecutive Pro Bowls … Started 14 career playoff games, including at left guard in four AFC Championship Games and Super Bowl XL … Dominating run blocker, led way for teams that finished among the NFL’s top 10 in rushing 11 times in 13 seasons … Blocked for nine 1,000-yard rushers and five 3,000-yard passers … Named to NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 2000s.

 

TORRY HOLT

HOF Finalist: 2 | Year of Eligibility: 7
Position: Wide Receiver

Ht: 6-0, Wt: 200

NFL Career: 1999-2008 St. Louis Rams, 2009 Jacksonville Jaguars

Seasons: 11, Games: 173

College: North Carolina State

Drafted: 1st Round (6th Overall), 1999

Born: June 5, 1976 in Greensboro, North Carolina

Named team’s Rookie of the Year after catching 52 passes for 788 yards and 6 TDs to help Rams to Super Bowl title … Had 11 catches for 109 yards and a TD in Rams’ 23-16 victory over Tennessee Titans in Super Bowl XXXIV … Eight consecutive 1,000-yard receiving seasons (2000-07) … Career-best 117 catches for 1,696 yards and 12 TDs in 2003 …. Had 10 games with 100 or more yards in 2003 … Led NFL in receptions in 2003 and receiving yardage in 2000 and 2003 … Recorded 80 or more catches in a season eight consecutive years … Led Rams in receptions seven years in a row (2002-08) … Rams’ leading receiving yardage leader a record nine times … 920 career receptions for 13,382 yards and 74 TDs …. Named All-Pro in 2003 and to the second team in 2006 … All-NFC twice … Voted to seven Pro Bowls … Selected to NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 2000s.

 

CALVIN JOHNSON

HOF Finalist: 1 | Year of Eligibility: 1
Position: Wide Receiver

Ht: 6-5, Wt: 237

NFL Career: 2007-2015 Detroit Lions

Seasons: 9, Games: 135

College: Georgia Tech

Drafted: 1st Round (2nd Overall), 2007

Born: September 29, 1985 in Tyrone, Georgia

Dominant wide receiver during his nine-season NFL career … Selected second overall in the 2007 NFL Draft by the Detroit Lions, where he played his entire professional football career … Started in 130 of his 135 career games … Nicknamed “Megatron” for strong, robotic like abilities on the field … Seven seasons with 1,000-plus receiving yards … Earned NFL pass receiving yardage titles in 2011 and 2012 … At time of retirement in 2015, held NFL records for receiving yards in a season (1,964 yards in 2012) and most consecutive games with a 100 or more receiving yards (8) … Still holds the Lions’ record for most receptions (731) and receiving yards (11,619) … Career stats include 731 receptions for 11,619 yards and 83 touchdowns… Earned Pro Bowl honors six consecutive years (2011-16) … First-Team All-Pro three times; second team once … Selected to the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 2010s.

 

JOHN LYNCH

HOF Finalist: 8 | Year of Eligibility: 9
Position: Safety

Ht: 6-2, Wt: 214

NFL Career: 1993-2003 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 2004-07 Denver Broncos

Seasons: 15, Games: 224

College: Stanford

Drafted: 3rd Round (82nd Overall), 1993

Born: Sept. 25, 1971 in Hinsdale, Illinois

Vital addition to Bucs defense that soon dominated NFL … Earned permanent starting role in fourth pro season, racked up more than 100 tackles and tied career-high with three interceptions … From that point forward, was anchor of secondary on a defense that perennially ranked among NFL’s best ... Voted to first of nine Pro Bowls following 1997 season … Earned All-Pro recognition three consecutive years (1999-2001) … In 2002, was integral part of Buccaneers’ championship season capped with franchise’s first Super Bowl title … Contributed 96 tackles (50 solo), three interceptions and 12 passes defensed as Bucs finished 12-4 ... In postseason, added five tackles in divisional playoff, six tackles in championship game and one tackle and pass defensed in Super Bowl XXXVII victory ... Signed as free agent with Denver in 2004 … Played final four seasons of 15-year career with Broncos ... Helped lead Broncos to conference championship game in second season … That year, recorded career-high four sacks, intercepted two passes, forced four fumbles and racked up 69 tackles ... Added three solo tackles, one assist and one pass defensed in 1995 AFC Championship Game ... In all, recorded 26 interceptions, returned for 204 yards, 13 sacks and more than 1,000 tackles ... Credited with 90 or more tackles in a season nine times.

 

PEYTON MANNING

HOF Finalist: 1 | Year of Eligibility: 1
Position: Quarterback

Ht: 6-5, Wt: 230

NFL Career: 1998-2011 Indianapolis Colts, 2012-15 Denver Broncos

Seasons: 18, Games: 266

College: Tennessee

Drafted: 1st Round (1st Overall), 1998

Born: March 24, 1976 in New Orleans, Louisiana

Premier quarterback during his 18-season NFL career … Started in all but one of his 266 career games … Selected first overall in the 1998 NFL Draft by the Indianapolis Colts … 14 seasons with 4,000-plus yards passing ... Four Super Bowl appearances resulting in two victories (XLI with Colts, 50 with Broncos); Super Bowl XLI MVP … Held numerous NFL and team records at time of retirement in 2015, including career passing yards (71,940), career passing touchdowns (539) and consecutive seasons with at least 25 passing touchdowns (13) … 201 career wins including playoffs … set the single-season passing yardage record (5,477) in 2013 … Career stats: 6,125 completions on 9,380 attempts for 71,940 yards and 539 touchdowns … Earned Pro Bowl honors 14 times (2000-01, 2003-2011, 2013-15) … First-Team All-Pro seven times; Second-Team All-Pro three times … Named Associated Press NFL Most Valuable Player five times (2003, 2004, 2008, 2009, 2013) … NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 2000s.

 

CLAY MATTHEWS JR.

HOF Finalist: 1 | Year of Eligibility: 20
Position: Linebacker

Ht: 6-2, Wt: 238

NFL Career: 1978-1993 Cleveland Browns, 1994-96 Atlanta Falcons

Seasons: 19, Games: 278

College: Southern California

Drafted: 1st Round (12th overall), 1978

Born: March 15, 1956 in Palo Alto, California

One of the National Football League’s “iron men,” played in 278 games over 19 seasons …  At time of his retirement, ranked third in NFL history for games played, still first for linebackers … Browns’ all-time leader in games played (232), seasons (16), sacks (76.5) and sack yardage (568) … Totaled at least 100 tackles in nine seasons … Led NFL in tackles three times (1979, 1981, 1984) … Played in three AFC Championship games … Selected to four Pro Bowls … Intercepted 16 passes and recovered 14 fumbles in career … Career-high three interceptions in 1987 … Despite playing part of 1984 with broken arm, made 126 tackles and registered career-best 12 sacks … Voted team’s Defensive MVP in 1981 after personal-best 128 tackles … Joined Atlanta as free agent in 1994 and appeared in 46 of 48 games over next three seasons … Set NFL record as the oldest player to record a sack at the age of 40 years, 282 days.

 

SAM MILLS

HOF Finalist: 2 | Year of Eligibility: 19
Position: Linebacker

Ht: 5-9, Wt: 229

NFL Career: 1986-1994 New Orleans Saints, 1995-97 Carolina Panthers

Seasons: 12, Games: 181

College: Montclair State

Undrafted. Signed by New Orleans Saints in 1986 after playing three seasons in USFL

Born: June 3, 1959 in Neptune, New Jersey
Died: April 18, 2005.

Played three seasons in USFL before league folded, then signed with Saints in 1986 … Quickly became starter and team leader … Earned first Pro Bowl nod in second season … Led defense that helped Saints establish sustained success for first time in franchise history … During his tenure in New Orleans, the team made four playoff appearances …  Signed with expansion Carolina Panthers as unrestricted free agent in 1995 … Key member of defense that helped Panthers claim division title and NFC Championship Game appearance in second season … Recorded five tackles and nine assists and one interception in the 1996 NFC Championship Game … Perennial team leader in tackles for Saints (five seasons) and Panthers (twice) … Named All-Pro and All-NFC three times (1991, 1992, 1996) … Voted to five Pro Bowls … Career statistics include 11 interceptions returned for 119 yards and a TD and three fumble recoveries for touchdowns.

 

RICHARD SEYMOUR

HOF Finalist: 3 | Year of Eligibility: 4
Position: Defensive End/Defensive Tackle

Ht: 6-6, Wt: 317

NFL Career: 2001-08 New England Patriots, 2009-2012 Oakland Raiders

Seasons: 12, Games: 164

College: Georgia

Drafted: 1st Round (6th Overall), 2001

Born: Oct. 6, 1979 in Gadsden, South Carolina

Integral member of defense that helped Patriots to six division titles over seven-season span … Patriots teams posted 10 or more wins seven times during his eight seasons with team … Led Patriots in sacks twice (2002, 2008) … Registered a career-high 8 sacks in 2008 … Amassed 57.5 career sacks … Recorded 3 or more sacks in every season but one … In games in which he recorded a sack, teams had a record of 46-8 (.852) … Returned fumble a franchise-record 68 yards for TD against Buffalo Bills on Oct. 3, 2004 … Recorded 39 passes defensed, two interceptions in career … Played in four AFC Championship Games and four Super Bowls, including victories in Super Bowls XXXVI, XXXVIII and XXXIX … Selected first team All-Pro three consecutive seasons (2003-05) and second team twice (2006, 2011) … All-AFC five times … Voted to seven Pro Bowls … Named to the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 2000s.

 

ZACH THOMAS

HOF Finalist: 2 | Year of Eligibility: 8
Position: Linebacker

Ht: 5-11, Wt: 235

NFL Career: 1996-2007 Miami Dolphins, 2008 Dallas Cowboys

Seasons: 13, Games: 184

College: Texas Tech

Drafted: 5th Round (154th Overall), 1996

Born: Sept. 1, 1973 in Pampa, Texas

Versatile and instinctive middle linebacker who made immediate impact … Intercepted three passes for 64 yards, 1 TD and 131 tackles, 49 assisted tackles and two sacks to earn team’s MVP honors and named AFC Defensive Rookie of the Year, 1996 … Led Dolphins in tackles 10 seasons … Racked up 100 tackles in each of his first 11 seasons … Amassed 22 tackles (14 solo) in 2001 playoff game versus Baltimore Ravens … Set Dolphins’ career record with four interceptions returned for touchdowns … Career statistics include 17 interceptions for 170 yards … Registered 20.5 career sacks … His 168 starts were most by a Dolphins’ defensive player … First player in team history to win Leadership Award (voted by teammates) three times … First-Team All-Pro five times (1998, 1999, 2002, 2003, 2006); Second-Team All-Pro twice (2001, 2005) … Voted to seven Pro Bowls.

 

REGGIE WAYNE

HOF Finalist: 2 | Year of Eligibility: 2
Position: Wide Receiver

Ht: 6-0, Wt: 203

NFL Career: 2001-2014 Indianapolis Colts

Seasons: 14, Games: 211

College: Miami (Florida)

Drafted: 1st Round (30th Overall), 2001

Born: Nov. 17, 1978 in New Orleans, Louisiana

Offensive threat who helped Colts reach postseason every year but two during his career … Caught 100 passes in a season four times (104 in 2007, 100 in 2009, 111 in 2010, and 106 in 2012) … Recorded 1,000 receiving yards eight times … Led NFL with career-high 1,510 receiving yards, 2007 …Had 10 or more catches in a game 15 times … Set franchise record with 15 receptions versus Jacksonville Jaguars on Oct. 3, 2010 … Racked up 100 yards in a game 43 times … Career stats: 1,070 catches for 14,345 yards and 82 touchdowns … Started three AFC Championship Games and two Super Bowls … Had two receptions for 61 yards and TD in Super Bowl XLI victory … Retired as NFL’s second all-time leading receiver in postseason (93 catches) … First-Team All-Pro, 2010 … Second-Team All-Pro 2007, 2009 … Voted to six Pro Bowls over seven-year span.

 

CHARLES WOODSON

HOF Finalist: 1 | Year of Eligibility: 1
Position: Cornerback/Safety

Ht: 6-1, Wt: 210

NFL Career: 1998-2005, 2013-15 Oakland Raiders, 2006-2012 Green Bay Packers

Seasons: 18, Games: 254

College: Michigan

Drafted: 1st Round (4th overall), 1998

Born: October 7, 1976 in Fremont, Ohio

Made immediate impact for Raiders after being drafted fourth overall in 1998, earning AP Defensive Rookie of the Year award and a Pro Bowl berth … Intercepted at least one pass in each of his 18 seasons (one year shy of Darrell Green’s NFL-record 19) … Totaled 65 career interceptions, tied for fifth in League history … Fourth in NFL history for passes defensed with 183 … Twice led NFL in interceptions (nine in 2009; seven in 2011) … In 2014, became first player in NFL history with 50 career interceptions and 20 sacks … Forced 33 fumbles and recovered 18 … AP Defensive Player of the Year in 2009 … Member of NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 1990s … First-Team All-Pro three times … Elected to nine Pro Bowls … Appeared in Super Bowl XXXVII with Oakland, contributing five tackles and an interception in 48-21 loss to Tampa Bay … Contributed two tackles in 31-25 Green Bay victory over Pittsburgh in Super Bowl XLV … Co-holder of NFL record with 13 career defensive touchdowns … One of only two players (with Hall of Famer Marcus Allen) to win Heisman Trophy, AP Rookie of the Year, AP Player of the Year and a Super Bowl title in his career.


NFL HONORS

The Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2021 will be introduced during the broadcast of “NFL Honors,” a two-hour primetime awards special to air nationally on the eve of Super Bowl LV at 9 p.m. (ET) on CBS. In addition, the NFL and The Associated Press will announce their annual accolades during the broadcast.

FAN VOTE

The annual Pro Football Hall of Fame Fan Vote presented by Ford continues since its launch in September. Fans can vote as many times as they wish at www.profootballhof.com/fanvote to predict the five Modern-Era Players who will be elected to the Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2021. 

Fans who vote automatically become eligible for several sweepstakes prizes, including a Grand Prize trip for two (2) to the 2021 Enshrinement Week Powered by Johnson Controls in Canton.

This marks the 11th consecutive year that Ford, the Official Automobile of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, has invited fans to predict the outcome of the annual Hall of Fame class. More than 25 million votes have been cast in the past decade.

‘TWICE THE FUN IN ’21’

The Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2021 and the Centennial Class of 2020 will be enshrined in separate ceremonies as the Hall celebrates “Twice the Fun in ’21.”

The 2021 Enshrinement Week Powered by Johnson Controls will include:

  • Aug. 5: Rescheduled Hall of Fame Game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Dallas Cowboys
  • Aug. 6: Gold Jacket Dinner
  • Aug. 7: Enshrinement of Centennial Class of 2020
  • Aug. 8: Enshrinement of Class of 2021
  • Aug. 9: Concert for Legends (Artists TBD)

For more information, visit https://www.profootballhof.com/enshrinement/

Official Ticket Packages for the 2021 Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Week Powered by Johnson Controls are on sale from Hall of Fame Experiences. Head to www.HOFExperiences.com to secure your spot to see the Class of 2021 enshrined. Ticket packages also can be obtained by calling 844-751-0532. Packages range from single-day offerings to four-day experiences that include premium seating, VIP access, exclusive parties and more.

Tickets for the Centennial Class of 2020 Enshrinement are available by clicking here.

Individual tickets for the Class of 2021 Enshrinement, Gold Jacket Dinner and Concert for Legends will go on sale in the Spring.

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