Pro Football Hall of Fame Announces 122 Modern Era Nominees

Devin Hester
Devin Hester
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

The Pro Football Hall of Fame announced its 122 nominees for the Class of 2022. That field will be trimmed to 25 semifinalists in November and 15 finalists in January.

The first-year nominees include Anquan Boldin, Devin Hester, Andre Johnson, Steve Smith, Jake Long, Nick Mangold, DeMarcus Ware, Robert Mathis, Vince Wilfork and Antonio Cromartie. The real action here is at wide receiver, where Johnson and Smith have reasonable first-ballot cases but are likely to get caught in a logjam at their position, while Ware and Mathis are about to join an increasingly-crowded field of pass rushers.

Regular finalists Ronde Barber, Tony Boselli, LeRoy Butler, Sam Mills and Richard Seymour and Zach Thomas are among the nominees, as expected, as is second-year finalist Jared Allen and wide receivers Torry Holt and Reggie Wayne, who have been splitting wide receiver votes among the selection committee for some time (and may soon split them with Johnson, Smith and/or others). With no true "top priority" first ballot nominees, Boselli, Butler and Thomas top my list of likely inductees this year.

Other names to keep an eye on among nominees include Willie Anderson and Kevin Williams. 

Cliff Branch is the Seniors "nominee," with Dick Vermeil as the Coach Finalist and Art McNally as the Contributor Finalist. All three will be essentially rubber-stamped in January.

Discuss your picks for the Class of 2022 below! And remember, 117 of these players are going to get "snubbed."

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41 comments, Last at 27 Sep 2021, 3:00pm

#1 by KaosTheory // Sep 22, 2021 - 2:39pm

DeMarcus Ware, Andre Johnson, Steve Smith, Nick Mangold, Ronde Barber, Tony Boselli


Does Dick Vermeil really belong in the Hall? Seems like voters are letting more questionable coaches in in recent years.

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#2 by ImNewAroundThe… // Sep 22, 2021 - 2:43pm

No Leroy Butler. Smh

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#5 by Mike Tanier // Sep 22, 2021 - 3:51pm

Kaos just SNUBBED Butler and Thomas!!!!

Vermeil is going in. He is the coach's committee selection and will get rubber stamped. They changed the ballot system a few years ago so coaches are not competing with players.

I recuse myself from offering an opinion in his case. 

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#10 by ImNewAroundThe… // Sep 22, 2021 - 5:46pm

Especially 1st timers. And if they made TO wait...(they clearly didn't care about that last with Clavin so...proves vendettas are real though, as if we needed more proof).

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#14 by Mike Tanier // Sep 22, 2021 - 9:06pm

"Vendettas" are not real and had nothing to do with T.O. having to wait. That's a popular Twitter theory based upon a lack of memory about T.O.'s actual playing career and knowledge about how the Pro Football Hall of Fame balloting works. 

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#16 by ImNewAroundThe… // Sep 22, 2021 - 9:52pm

Nah.  CJ got in first ballot with less total receiving yards, less all pros and less total TDs while TO had to wait, not just one, but two more years. Nothing explains that. Not even a Kicker (!!!!) getting in before him. 

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#18 by Theo // Sep 23, 2021 - 12:16am

If you look up what TO did, he's behind Rice and then there's him Moss, Fitz and Bruce.

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#20 by LionInAZ // Sep 23, 2021 - 12:42am

Owens was a bad character. I'm OK with keeping bad and unapologetic characters out of the HOF, just like Pete Rose, no matter how they perform.


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#21 by Mike Tanier // Sep 23, 2021 - 6:42am

A lot of folks have gone out of their way to memory wipe or retcon the fact that T.O. made powerful enemies of coaches and teammates on multiple teams.

When the voters went seeking endorsements on him, he was given negative reviews from some VERY influential former coaches. It won't take too much sleuthing to guess who.

That caused enough voters to not endorse him to table his election for 2 consecutive years. It was NOT a majority of the room by any means. Nor were the No's concentrated in T.O.'s many home cities. But it took an 80% majority to get in at that point, and like Hamilton, he didn't have the votes.

The anti-T.O. contingent caved when they realized what a poop show it would be if Moss just leap-frogged T.O.

The beliefs that a) T.O. never did anything detrimental to his teams that might warrant reluctance to induct him and b) that it was reporters, and not past teammates/coaches, that were "gate-keeping" is Twitter logic with little basis in objective reality. 

Just to underscore how silly this idea is, let me state that if the Committee was running around playing favorites ...

a) Warren Sapp wouldn't be able to get in if he bought a ticket, and 

b) John Lynch would have gotten in on the first ballot. 

Here is more, from me and from the actual voters, on T.O.'s Hall of Fame situation:


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#22 by theslothook // Sep 23, 2021 - 10:52am

On events like long car trips, I thought about what kind of team TO would be happy with. And I honestly couldn't come up with an answer. If he was on a team like the Patriots, he would eventually clash with Bill Belichick's disciplinary style.

If he were on a team with Peyton Manning, he'd be upset that the ball wasn't going to him more.

If he was on a bad team like the Cardinals were with Fitzgerald where he was exclusively the best receiver and got all of the balls, he'd bitch about all of the losing.

Owens is a Hall of Fame receiver, but he was the ultimate definition of a me first, selfish player. I thought Moss was too btw. There's a reason such players end up playing on multiple teams.

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#28 by ImNewAroundThe… // Sep 23, 2021 - 6:14pm

Literally no one has gone out of their way to retcon that TO made enemies. We just don't care. Why do other certain people care? That's the literal vendetta we're talking about. "Endorsement" seeking is almost akin to teams asking college prospects if their mothers a prostitute. 

The fact that they seek "endorsements" is silly. Yet they haven't found Shanahans gameplan plan for Butler? 

The fact that Terez Paylor (RIP) had to plead his case for TO says all it needs to (screw his opinion though, not really the endorsement they're looking for). The voters are petty and they shouldn't be. Acting as if TO was a criminal and was the OL that killed his wife then himself decades prior. As if he couldn't go in alongside the pill poppin, wishy washy, dick pic takin Favre. Otherwise one of Harrison, Greene or Pace could've waited (Greene, really). 

So odd for you to mention TOs four playoffs wins as some sorta evidence of him being unworthy, yet Calvin flippin Johnson got in FIRST BALLOT with TWO playoff APPEARANCES and winning neither! Deafening. As if Leroy Butler wasn't right there and a precedent already set for WR! 


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#30 by David // Sep 24, 2021 - 8:59am

"The anti-T.O. contingent caved when they realized what a poop show it would be if Moss just leap-frogged T.O."

So, what you're saying is that the anti-T.O. contingent realised that what they were doing was stupid, and not based in fact.

So, a vendetta, then?

At the very least, a prejudice held without reference to the facts.

Either TO was worthy, in which case holding him back for two years was stupid, ill-informed & prejudiced, or he wasn't, in which case he shouldn't have gone in at all.

As mentioned above, no-one is retconning that coaches disliked him, it's just that it doesn't matter.  His play, even when spread across multiple teams, was hall-worthy.  As such, listening to literally four people that had a personal dislike of him to block that entry into the hall is petty, stupid, malicious and vindictive.

If you choose not to classify such behaviour as a 'vendetta', well, fine - but I'm going to have to disagree with your apparent assessment that the HoF voters acted in good faith

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#34 by theslothook // Sep 24, 2021 - 11:39am

I'll speak for Tanier with trepidation. And full disclosure, I am one of those people who believes Terrell Owens is a Hall of famer and should have been a first ballot Hall of famer because I consider him an indisputable top five receiver of all time.


The problem with Terrell Owens' off the field stuff is that it affected the teams on the field. Or at least that's what has been perceived and what several coaches and players have intimated. Certainly Donovan McNabb has been pretty explicit about this.

To that end you ask yourself, if a player's exploits are actively hurting the team he's playing for, should that factor into anything? I'm not going to argue yes or no but I do think it starts to blur the lines a little bit and you can't just ignore it at the very least.

I made this point above, but if your favorite team had a chance at Terrell Owens, would you take him? I think he would certainly help you in the beginning, but his history suggests that at some point he becomes very discontented with the situation for whatever reason and it does end up hurting the team. 

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#35 by ImNewAroundThe… // Sep 24, 2021 - 7:16pm

Even in his OG BR article Mike correctly predicted he'd have to wait another 2 years! Peter King saying they don't have agendas but opinions but uh that sounds like an agenda that Mike could predict such a thing. As if agendas couldn't be full of opinions anyway. 

It's also just a weird reason to keep him off for only a certain amount of time. You'd think it'd count enough to keep him out entirely but even they knew it was silly and they couldn't keep it up you pointed out.

And mentioning multiple teams and doing well on them should only enhance his case, if anything. 

It's just all so silly as time passes and people like Calvin (who was great!) get in quicker. They set a pretty bad precedent that's gets harder to explain as the years go on.

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#40 by JimZipCode // Sep 27, 2021 - 2:56pm

To that end you ask yourself, if a player's exploits are actively hurting the team he's playing for, should that factor into anything? I'm not going to argue yes or no but I do think it starts to blur the lines a little bit and you can't just ignore it at the very least.

I would have no more voted-in Terrell Owens than I would've Ricky Watters. 

But I'm an asshole.


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#24 by Pat // Sep 23, 2021 - 11:07am

Nick Mangold

No way is Mangold a first ballot Hall of Famer. No way, chance, how. I mean, I love me some centers in the Hall, that's for sure, but if Birk and Saturday don't even make the semifinalist ballot after multiple years, there's no way in the world that Mangold could make it first ballot.

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#3 by ImNewAroundThe… // Sep 22, 2021 - 2:45pm


Leroy Butler

Yes Butler, Leroy.



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#4 by techvet // Sep 22, 2021 - 2:56pm

Now that Steve Atwater is in (you can agree or disagree about that choice), the way should be clear for Butler.

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#9 by ImNewAroundThe… // Sep 22, 2021 - 5:40pm

Or will be I should say.

And Butler was better! Atwater just had the highlight hits. And extra SB ring...but come on.

Like Mike said it's probably about 97%. This is a weak class and no one should have any locks (above him at least).

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#7 by theslothook // Sep 22, 2021 - 4:31pm

I feel like Allen will get snubbed again because Ware is out there had has that SB victory as a nice parting story for him( although I do believe Ware to be the better player than Allen).

Would like to see Allen get in. He has the accolades. He has the esteem. He was well regarded throughout his time in the NFL. Advanced statistics were all in line with him as one of the best pass rushers of his era. Out of all of the names listed, I think only Ware has a better case and the rest are either debatable or flat out worse. He should be inducted this year. 

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#8 by theslothook // Sep 22, 2021 - 4:35pm

I have to say, I have a hard time reconciling players in the past as deserving or not. It seems player grading of any kind didn't exist until 2010 and even that is flawed. DVOA didn't exist during the period writers were voting in all pro and probowl candidates. Things like interceptions, fumble recovers, sacks, and tackles were getting a ton of weight as measurements of quality when we all know how flawed they are. 

To that end, I have sort of thrown my hands up in the air when it comes to assessing the players of past especially in positions that don't touch the ball regularly. Reading Dr.Z's all pro teams is also an eye opening look into how lazy/biased sportswriters can be when it comes to the voting. 

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#32 by Chuckc // Sep 24, 2021 - 10:27am

Player grading certainly did exist prior to 2010. There may not have been a universal standard (I'd argue there still isn't) but coaches were definitely grading their own players (and their opponent's players to a degree). General managers must have been grading players. Hell, EA was grading players for Madden Football.

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#33 by theslothook // Sep 24, 2021 - 11:35am

I should have been clearer. Player grading didn't exist for the viewing public, including the sports writers who voted for these players. Chase Stewart has already documented how incredibly flawed the All-Pro voting process is to begin with. One shudders to imagine what it must have been like in earlier periods with almost zero oversight from the public.

I might take some consolation in the fact that coaches are grading their players, but even here there are a ton of biases baked in. 

I'm not claiming that player grading is super accurate. However it should serve as some form of an audit. And the prior days really just were like the wild West

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#41 by CHIP72 // Sep 27, 2021 - 2:57pm

As early as the late 1970s, at least some teams were purchasing services that independently evaluated and graded players.  Mike Giddings, a former player and college and WFL head coach, founded Proscout, Inc., which has evaluated players for 40+ years.  Giddings' player evaluation techniques were discussed by (who else?) Paul Zimmerman (i.e. Dr. Z) in a 1982 Sports Illustrated article contained within their football preview edition.

Here are links to the SI article and article suggesting Giddings should be a PFHOF candidate (and more importantly for purposes of this discussion, gives the impression he's continued to grade players for many, many years after 1982):

*1982 SI article:

*2021 SI article recommending Giddings should be considered for PFHOF induction:

The guy suggesting Giddings should receive PFHOF consideration is NFL historian John Turney of Pro Football Journal.

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#11 by Mike Y // Sep 22, 2021 - 6:06pm

Does he have a case?

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#12 by ImNewAroundThe… // Sep 22, 2021 - 6:29pm

Does ST in general? Does Steve Tasker? Does Brian Mitchell? Will Darren Sproles? 

IDK, it's hard. 

But I do know HE BETTER NOT GET IN BEFORE LEROY BUTLER! Other than that I'm open to go either way. 

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#15 by Mike Tanier // Sep 22, 2021 - 9:08pm

In reply to by ImNewAroundThe…

That's the problem with the special teamers. They have cases, in isolation, when talking about "impact" or such. And then it's time for a voter to pick Hester over someone like Butler, Seymour, Ware, Steve Smith (who was also an outstanding return man) and it becomes obvious that the bar is too high for nearly every specialist.


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#17 by ImNewAroundThe… // Sep 22, 2021 - 9:55pm

But they're the best and Hester obviously was.

But are we ever going to talk about the best LS? Why not? Because who cares? Ah, well...they just aren't as visible, as a looking up most return TDs or most points is quite easy. 

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#19 by LionInAZ // Sep 23, 2021 - 12:33am

Long snappers and place kick holders impact games mostly in negative ways -- blowing snaps or fumbling snaps. It's just not the same as KR/PR.

At least Hester holds 11 NFL records, all positive.

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#29 by ImNewAroundThe… // Sep 23, 2021 - 6:19pm

but Hester also has 41 career, regular season only, fumbles compared to 38 total TDs (including playoffs). 

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#39 by Jetspete // Sep 25, 2021 - 8:35am

if brian mitchell isnt in, Hester shouldnt be in. 

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#13 by jgov // Sep 22, 2021 - 7:52pm

There is a 5-WR logjam reminiscent of a similar backlog from a few years ago. Between Holt, Wayne, Johnson, Smith, and Boldin, I feel like they all have a good case and will eventually get in (except maybe Boldin), but the presence of all of them makes it difficult for any one of them to get in this year.  

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#23 by Pat // Sep 23, 2021 - 11:01am

 With no true "top priority" first ballot nominees, Boselli, Butler and Thomas top my list of likely inductees this year.

Well, thank freaking god on Zach Thomas. There's some justice in the world.

Also curious you didn't mention Sam Mills, since it's his last year and you staunchly defended him before.

I've also got a sinking feeling Kevin Williams won't get to the finalist stage again, which is just totally ridiculous. Five. Time. All. Pro. That's more than Warren Sapp had, who obviously was just waved in. And I have this super-sinking feeling that Wilfork will make it to finalist first, which is nuts.

Some of those nominees seriously baffle me. Jake Long? Why is Jake Long on there?!? If Jake Long's a Hall of Famer I'll eat my hat. Long wasn't even retained by the team that drafted him! How could you possibly think that Long's a Hall of Famer over, say, Ryan Clady (who's also not a Hall of Famer). 

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#25 by MilkmanDanimal // Sep 23, 2021 - 3:23pm

One day Ronde Barber will get in, and I will need to find another molehill to die on.  Great at everything and one of the smartest players I've ever watched, but was "just a zone corner" and, since he didn't match up one-on-one to the clear #1 WR OH GOD I'M DOING IT AGAIN.

Torry Holt was just so consistently productive; 11 year career, with an 8 year stretch of 1k+ yards.  Only made first-team All-Pro once, and that wasn't the year he led the league in yards and yards/reception, and, hey, the three WRs selected were Randy Moss, Marvin Harrison, and TO, so, uh, that's kind of a tough category to crack.

So . . . my list is Ronde @#$!!! Barber, Torry Holt, LeRoy Butler, Zach Thomas, and Reggie Wayne.  Seeing Boldin, Steve Smith, and Andre Johnson coming means all of those guys squabbling over Holt vs. Wayne are going to do one of those "I'll vote for your guy if you vote for mine" handshake deals, and they both get in just to start clearing out the WR backlog.  There's nobody on the list of first-time nominees that screams Absolute First Ballot Guy, so it's a backlog clearing year.

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#26 by theslothook // Sep 23, 2021 - 3:47pm

Surprised you are putting Wayne ahead of Jared Allen.

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#27 by MilkmanDanimal // Sep 23, 2021 - 4:52pm

A large part of the reason is Wayne has waited longer, and taking a wild stab and there being a desire to clear out a few WRs with a new crop coming in.  Allen will get in soon, but, as someone with literally zero visibility into the actual politics of the process nor the vaguest kind of moral or intellectual credit to even vaguely speculate as to what goes on in those rooms, I'm pretty qualified to say Wayne over Allen.  Ooooobviously.

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#31 by RickD // Sep 24, 2021 - 9:06am

and it doesn't help when teams like the Rams start depending two guys from the same team.  Holt would bring the number of Rams from that era up to 4, while there's still only 1 Patriot from the team that beat them and then won two more titles.  

The mistake was putting Isaac Bruce in. Now Holt has to join him.  It's the  Swann/Stallworth problem all over again, except those two won more Super Bowls.

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#37 by Raiderjoe // Sep 25, 2021 - 8:07am

Egghh. Yes rams lsot to Pates but does nto mean Pates should get more Hofers in. Just one game is zsuper bowlm Hall of fame is for a large number of games



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#38 by Raiderjoe // Sep 25, 2021 - 8:20am

Woll take S..mills over Z. Thomas.  Short, squatty white boy who made some tackles.think that reminded large number of fanbases if themselves. Actually think has body type deal (like Bettis or nate Newton or refrigerator Perry or Bartolo colon or eckstein or rabbit maranville) where his look heightens intrigue and he gets overrated. Saw tooo  many times Thomas did nto make play . Thought Surtain and Taylor clear better players ont heose dolphins 🐬 temas. 

Do liek r. Barber, holt, som others. Will look T whole list later and type mroe things into site

Points: 0

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