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HOF Announces 2020 Finalists

We're down to 15 finalists for the five Modern Era spots in the Hall of Fame class of 2020.

  • S Steve Atwater
  • OT Tony Boselli
  • WR Isaac Bruce
  • S LeRoy Butler
  • G Alan Faneca
  • WR Torry Holt
  • G Steve Hutchinson
  • RB Edgerrin James
  • S John Lynch
  • LB Sam Mills
  • S Troy Polamalu
  • DT/DE Richard Seymour
  • LB Zach Thomas
  • WR Reggie Wayne
  • DT Bryant Young
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22 comments, Last at 06 Jan 2020, 12:21pm

1 Reggie Wayne is my second…

Reggie Wayne is my second favorite player of all time. With that said I'm surprised he's a finalist for the Hall of Fame. Besides Manning and Harrison who is already in, the only other colt from that era who deserves to make the Hall of Fame is Dwight freeney. Yes he was a mediocre run defender but he might have been one of the best pass-rushers of the entire decade and that counts for a lot. Jonathan Ogden I believe famously said he was the hardest defensive player he had to pass block against.


One of my predictions is that there will be a log jam of pass-rushers in the upcoming years. Besides freeney, down the pipe will be Julius peppers, Jared Allen, DeMarcus Ware, and James Harrison. I believe all of those people are Hall of famers.

Its interesting that a lot of these candidates feel like borderline Hall of famers to me, with the exception of Troy polamalu and maybe Zach Thomas. Full disclosure I didn't see enough of Bryant Young when I started watching, nor safety LeRoy Butler nor the candidates who predated both of them.

2 Butler

As a Packers fan I'd say LeRoy Butler deserves to get in. Was really the first modern cover/blitzing safety who was the first defensive back in the 20-sack/30-interception club. Mike Shanahan famously game-planned against him in the 97 Super Bowl, not Reggie White. They don't seem to know what do with safeties in the selection process.

9 Not a Packers fan, and I…

In reply to by beauc

Not a Packers fan, and I agree - LeRoy Butler is one of the first players that comes to mind when I think of modern safety play.

3 I'd like to say I'm fine if…

I'd like to say I'm fine if every candidate listed in this group of 15 eventually gets in, though I think Lynch is the least worthy candidate of the 15. This really is a decent collection of nominees. I'll leave it to others to point out those who've been overlooked.

I'd also like to second the Leroy Butler love. He really was that good in the 90's. 4X All-Pro. Member of NFL All-Decade Team, and best known as the inventor of the Lambeau Leap. Caveat: for those who don't know by now, I'm a Packers fan. 

5 Patrick Willis not being a…

Patrick Willis not being a finalist is insane. I assume it's because of his relatively short tenure, in which case people will have to explain the Terrell Davis induction to me yet again.

7 To be fair, Terrell Davis…

To be fair, Terrell Davis also had to wait for several years before getting in (and which I also disagreed with at the time - at the very least, there were other Broncos more deserving of enshrinement than Davis).

For much the same reasons, I don't think Boselli should be in, even though I have a soft spot for him as the first offensive lineman who I ever actively looked for when watching a game. 

14 Davis had maybe the greatest…

Davis had maybe the greatest four year stretch for any RB ever. That stretch also featured one of the greatest playoff RB performances ever.

The sole criticism of Davis is a career shortened by literally becoming crippled.

17 I would say the other issue…

I would say the other issue complicating Davis's career is the fact that Denver at that time could turn out thousand-yard rushers from anyone. Davis was no doubt No ordinary back,  but was he a Hall of Fame back or was he a very good back in a very friendly system

18 Let's compare some running backs (pardon any errors):

2 RBs, from within a similar timeframe:




G   113

Rush  1780

Yds    8172

Y/A    4.6

Total TDs    94


= Priest Holmes 




G   78

Rushes 1655

Yards 7607

Y/A 4.6

Total TDs 65

= Terrell Davis


If Davis is in, why not Priest Holmes? He scored 66 TDs in 3 seasons, and had 4,590 yards in the same span. Not taking away from Davis, just saying, Holmes should get more discussion.  

19 1. Holmes is worth…

1. Holmes is worth considering.
2. Holmes has even worse structural issues than Davis does. He really only has a three season stretch as a #1 back.
3. Davis makes the stats up if you include his playoff performance -- he's essentially the best playoff RB ever.
4. Holmes played on even better rushing teams in his career than Davis did -- Baltimore was really good and Vermeil KC was legendary.
5. Holmes is overshadowed by both his precedent and his antecedent. Both Jamal Lewis and Larry Johnson had higher peaks than Holmes. Davis is better than his.
6. You pretty much need to have played for the Packers in the 60s or the Cardinals in the 50s to make the HOF as a #2 RB.

21 Lewis and Johnson's peaks…

Lewis and Johnson's peaks only look better than Holmes if you completely ignore receiving; if you look at yards from scrimmage, Holmes has 3 years of over 2100 yards from scrimmage, which matches what Johnson and Lewis did combined.

6 Sam Mills

His peak came just before I really became serious about football, but his decline was good enough that I really hope Sam Mills makes it. Rickey Jackson is (rightly) already in, but Sam Mills was the leader of that defense.

My vote would be defensive-dominated:

  1. Polamalu
  2. Mills
  3. Seymour
  4. Young
  5. Holt/Bruce/Wayne (roll 1d3 to decide)

Atwater & Butler seemed like locks when they played, but I wonder how much the rise of Reed/Polamalu/Dawkins overshadows them the way 90s receivers were by the 2000s. I think Zach Thomas was a really good, sometimes great player who was nevertheless a bit overrated. I wouldn't be upset to see him in, but there are so many more and better defenders in the list.

ETA: Ok, I've looked over Zach Thomas's stats again, and retract my statement. Five first-team All-Pros is pretty outstanding. I probably remember late-career Zach Thomas too well, as it overlaps so much with the Pats' dominance; I remember him looking really slow against the Pats offense, contrasted with Jason Taylor (who often looked unblockable against some very good OLs). Add Thomas and scratch the receivers from my list.

10 I'd agree that prime Zach…

In reply to by Independent George

I'd agree that prime Zach Thomas (as a Bills fan, I also saw a lot of him) was Hall-worthy. His peers certainly thought so.

12 Much as I'd like to see Zach…

In reply to by Independent George

Much as I'd like to see Zach Thomas elected to the HoF (I think he's plenty qualified), there's a caveat to his first team all-pro numbers. These all came via AP only when they were electing two ILBs and two OLBs to their squads. In essence, he's a second teamer for the other organizations picking all-pro teams. Still, I think that's plenty good enough coupled with 7 pro bowls and membership on the all-00s decade team.

16 True, but his contemporaries…

True, but his contemporaries at MLB were Ray Lewis (7 AP1, 13 PB, 1 DOY) and Brian Urlacher (4/8/1). Thomas' 5/7/0 are comparable for pretty much the exact same period (Thomas played from 1996-2008, Lewis from 1996-2012, and Urlacher from 2000-2012). Lewis and Urlacher were all-decade 1st team, Thomas was all-decade 2nd team. 

The worst you could say is that Thomas was the 3rd best MLB in the league, behind two HOFers (one of whom is arguably in the top 5 all-time). He's effectively the Andre Reed/Tim Brown to Jerry Rice & Michael Irvin. 

15 Zack

In reply to by Independent George

Zack is stuck in Jason Taylor's shadow. Taylor's career was longer and I think hall voters have a general negative bias against teams that fail to make a Super Bowl or even AFC championship. I mean, if Miami's defense was that good why didn't they do more, mantra. With Junior Seau and Jsaon Taylor in already, I think it hurts Zach's chances. Still his numbers stack up well against Brian Urlacher.  

11 A fine list. All are…

A fine list. All are deserving, no major quibbles.

A little surprised Patrick Willis didn’t make it, but the other two LBs have been waiting a while. His short career is obviously an issue. The three biggest surprises for me are Sam Mills and Bryant Young, plus Reggie Wayne being a first time finalist. Was wondering if Hines Ward would be a finalist since he’s next in the WR queue in seniority after Torry Holt. Wayne jumped the line, surprisingly.

Nice to see Leroy Butler and Zach Thomas get this far also.

As to who the final five might be, that’s becoming more of a crapshoot. Definitely think Polamalu, James, at least one other safety (probably Atwater), and at least one OL (probably Faneca since he has been waiting longest) get elected for sure. How strongly the voters feel about Sam Mills will be interesting, as he only has a couple years of eligibility left (his 4/5/none profile is decent at the position, which is under-represented in Canton for this time period).

My guess for now:


But Mills, Bruce, Seymour, or someone else could surprise.

22 Personally, I'd go Young,…

Personally, I'd go Young, Polamalu, Mills, Boselli, Seymour

I realize that safety is an under-represented position, but I'm a bit surprised at the inclusion of Atwater and Lynch. I mean, if the overriding job description of a safety is to knock the snot out of the ball-carrrier, then Atwater should have been in years ago. I just feel that his penchant for making huge hits overshadows the fact that he wasn't that great -- at least not HOF Finalist-level great.

Lynch...I don't know. I feel that he was really made by the other pieces in TB (Brooks, Sapp, Barber, Rice) and was generally speaking an above average safety. I think the best thing his candidacy has going for it is that Belichick gave him the backhanded compliment of calling him a Hall-of-Fame safety when he was trying to make the Patriots as a coverage linebacker. I'm not sure I'd take that literally, though.