2022 Hall of Fame Finalists Announced

Richard Seymour, New England Patriots
Richard Seymour, New England Patriots
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

NFL Week 17 - The Pro Football Hall of Fame announced its 15 2022 finalists on Thursday afternoon. Here's a thread to discuss who will be the five players selected to enter Canton. The 2022 finalists are:

  • WR Torry Holt
  • WR Andre Johnson
  • WR Reggie Wayne
  • OT Willie Anderson
  • OT Tony Boselli
  • DE/DT Richard Seymour
  • DE/DT Bryant Young
  • DE Jared Allen
  • OLB DeMarcus Ware
  • MLB Sam Mills
  • MLB Zach Thomas
  • MLB Patrick Willis
  • CB Ronde Barber
  • SAF LeRoy Butler
  • PR/KR Devin Hester

I'm very surprised that Steve Smith did not make it to the finalist round in his first year of eligibility. I would gladly put Steve Smith into the Hall of Fame ahead of Devin Hester.

I think that this is LeRoy Butler's year. He's the one guy from this list I'm pretty sure makes it in. He's been waiting a long time and pretty much everyone agrees that he deserves it. My guess is there will also be one player per position to try to break the logjams. One wide receiver, I'm guessing it's Holt's turn first. One defensive lineman, probably Seymour. One middle linebacker, I would go with Willis. And I think DeMarcus Ware makes it in on his first try. So that's my five: Butler, Holt, Seymour, Ware, and Willis. Plus the senior finalist Cliff Branch, contributor finalist Art McNally, and coach finalist Dick Vermeil. Who do you have?

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47 comments, Last at 08 Feb 2022, 9:19pm

1 I suppose Patrick Willis is…

I suppose Patrick Willis is handing off his "wait, he's not even a FINALIST?" position to Steve Smith for the year.

Assuming they don't put more than one person per position in, the Willis/Zach Thomas debate will be furious, as will the Reggie Wayne/Torry Holt/Andre Johnson battle.

I'd take one of each, add in Seymour, Ware and Butler, and call it a class.  I think I'd take Wayne as my receiver and Willis as my linebacker, but it's hard to argue against any of those five.  Heck, they could pick all five as the entire class and, while I'd find it odd, it wouldn't be a crazy group.

6 I am stunned that Steve…

I am stunned that Steve Smith was left off!

There won't be a Willis-Thomas debate on the actual floor. They will push Thomas in and shunt Willis to next year.

No idea what will happen with the WRs. Could be a triple knockout logjam. 

35 Also stunned

In my mind, Smith was clearly a superior WR to Johnson and Holt. Don't know if the stats support that, but I don't really care.  
Smith didn't play with great QBs, but he always managed to get open.  I'd probably take Wayne as the most productive of the bunch, but he had the good fortune to play with peak Peyton Manning.  

I would be happy to see Zach Thomas finally get in and long thought Willis would be automatic, though his relatively short career hurts his HoF chances (though it's probably better for his health).  

Seymour needs to get in already.  And my eyes roll at people who only judge him by sack numbers.  

2 Butler: Only member of the all-90's team not in the Hall of Fame

He is also the only safety in this class.  This is his third straight year as a finalist.  One of only four players in NFL history with at least 35 interceptions and 20 sacks (Hall of Famer Brian Dawkins, Hall of Famer Charles Woodson, and Ronde Barber, a Hall of Fame semifinalist in 2020 are the other three).   You have to believe it's his time.

3 Devin Hester?

This is why the HOF process is silly.  Devin Hester, over a fairly long career, actually mattered on about 25 plays.  Maybe 30.  His skill set, or lack thereof, kept him off the field for the vast, vast, majority of any game.  Sigh.

17 Is this a different Hall…

Is this a different Hall that I don't know of? Or a different Steve Tasker?

Tasker became eligible in what, 2003? He's literally never been a finalist. Ever. He's been a semifinalist a few times, one of the very, very few that's bounced from "nominated" to "semi" and then back again.

I think the only player that's gone from "semi" to "finalist" to "semi" again (and then off) is Roger Craig. Getting to the finalist level is like a 99% guarantee you're going to get in. Just vote Hester in now and be done with it. It's completely stupid, but the chance of the Hall voters realizing the mistake they've made is zero, so whatever.

21 I guess I would argue that…

I guess I would argue that making the final 15 constitutes serious consideration.  But I think you mean not likely to get much support for the final five, with which I agree.  And pray to be correct.

20 Oversimplification

In reply to by BroncosGuyAgain

This seems a bit uncharitable. Hester mattered every time the opponent kicked away from him (generally resulting in a shorter-than-average punt), which was often. The question is how much value that generated, which would take a fair bit of research. I'm with you that Hester almost certainly does not deserve serious consideration, but to say that he mattered only when he produced a big return seems like a significant oversimplification to me. 

22 I understand your point. …

In reply to by StraightCashHomey

I understand your point.  However, your supposition that opponents ever "kicked away" from him, and that it necessarily resulted in a shorter-than-average punt, would also take a fair bit of research.  All teams at that time kicked directionally, both punts and kickoffs.  Nobody was "kicking away" from Hester more than any other returner.  Having watched a ton of Bears games during that era, I don't recall anybody obviously kicking the ball out of bounds to avoid Hester, but that's just my memory, not actual data. 

23 Oh, no, some teams…

Oh, no, some teams definitely did. Or at least the kickoff equivalent (squib kicks).

But really even if Hester made a difference on every return (which he didn't) it's still far, far fewer plays than any normal player.

26 Aaron actually had to…

Aaron actually had to implement a special "Devin Hester" adjustment at point because teams were kicking away from Hester so often it was messing with the Bears' special team numbers.

47 research?

I can 100 percent affirm that teams punted to the sideline and squib kicked to avoid Hester a bunch of times, your memory is letting you down.

I'm not sure what the exact technical game impact of that is or if that impact is really going to be germane to his candidacy, but it is definitely the case that teams adjusted their punting/kickoff strategy to account for him specifically on a regular basis.

4 I think I'd put in Ware,…

I think I'd put in Ware, Holt, Wayne, Seymour, and Willis. There are a couple of tough to exclude guys on the rest of the list, but that's how it always is. I won't hazard a guess what the actual voters will do, other than that I doubt two WRs get in.

40 Stat bias FTW! Now that RBs…

Stat bias FTW!

Now that RBs are persona non grata in the Hall, WRs are without a doubt the easiest position to get into the Hall. I think it's a combination of the stat bias plus just the whole base diva WR personality thing.

Zach Thomas and Patrick Willis each have more All Pro seasons than all of the WRs up for the Hall combined

5 Who I would induct: Butler,…

Who I would induct:

Butler, Barber, Johnson, Allen, Ware.

Who I wouldn't mind seeing inducted: Thomas, Willis.

Who I object to but would understand: Seymour, Holt, Wayne, Boselli.

Imo the others are not really HoFers.

12 Mine

Has to: Butler. Wait has been wait to long and other questionable safeties alone have gotten in before him. Already a tragedy. 

Others are hard but I guess Zach Thomas has waited a bit to, so him but the other 3 are really tough. I'll just go with Ware, Allen and Willis. Boselli has been waiting for a while. Barber holds a special place but may have to wait. Tough outside of a couple. STer can wait. No way were letting him in on first ballot 

15 I'm not a fan of Hester or…

In reply to by ImNewAroundThe…

I'm not a fan of Hester or Young's candidacies (Young doesn't really have a peak, but is also clearly better than Hester), but any result getting any five of the other 13 into the Hall would be good, since I expect most of those 13 to make the Hall at some point.  An actual good result would be the Finalist committee going rogue and electing ten of those 13.

Basically, it's silly to criticize most ballots.

30 What

You think they're gonna change everything to let these 10 modern finalists in? I don't think that's how it works now nor will it

37 they just let in some extra people for the 75th anniversary

In reply to by ImNewAroundThe…

They're not going to go rogue and do something similar this year.

The most we could hope for (and I seriously hope for this) is to expand the number per year from 5 to 6 or higher.

Meanwhile, grouchy baseball writers are saying "Nobody gets in!" so I guess we should be happy?

13 This would be my HOF* - tell me why I am wrong

*Based on the finalists chosen

  • DE/DT Richard Seymour
  • MLB Patrick Willis
  • SAF LeRoy Butler
  • OLB DeMarcus Ware
  • OT Tony Boselli

Please if you add someone- say who you take out.

You can see I believe in the 5 - 7 year peak, that is probably the first point that gets argued. I also think they should admit more than 5 modern candidates per year but ymmv.

16 Butler, Young, and any other three but Hester

The only two I really want in are Butler and Young. I'm a Packers fan so I'm bias when it comes to Butler but I'm not sure he ever makes it if it's not this year. I'm shocked that nobody else has defended Young here. Bryant Young was a DT for the best part of his career, collapsing the pocket from the inside and still managed 11 sacks in two years from the interior. He had no equal during his peak in the late 90's. 

I honestly don't care who else makes it. It's kind of a lackluster group compared to past years with no first ballot superstars. I'd go with Holt, Ware, and Allen but I'm fine with any group of five that doesn't include Hester who I just don't think is HoF-worthy. I'm not big on Mills either, but he's got such a good story that I won't mind if he's voted in. 

27 As Aaron mentioned on…

As Aaron mentioned on Twitter the other day, Cordarelle Patterson is actually the best kick-off returner of in modern NFL history (not Hester). Patterson was/is also an incredible all-round special teams contributor, and is now proving to be a pretty good offensive player as well. I wonder whether he will ever warrant serious consideration?

33 Seymour

Seymour was instrumental in NWE getting to 4 SBs in his time with the time.

There's a lot of presumption that it was Brady and a pile of nobodies for 19 years, so who knows if he gets in.  The preposterous nonsense you hear around these parts is really something.  "Brady made all the defensive players meaningless because the offense always went the field and/or drove enough to pin the opponent deep on a punt."  That was the level of analysis for keeping any of the defensive stars out.  He certainly helped vs a QB that just goes 3+out or throws a zillion picks, but claiming it was all him on both sides of the ball is really a new level of hero worship.

38 Revisionism is weird

In reply to by TheIdealGrassLaw

At the time, people regularly dismissed Brady as a "game manager" and pointed to his defense.  And Seymour was the best player on defense (with all due respect to Ty Law).  He could line up anywhere on the line and stop the run or the pass.  

34 One fool's opinion

I'm just an old chunk of coal, but if it were up to this fool, I'd put in:

LeRoy Butler, finally
Bryant Young, finally
Richard Seymour, finally
Tony Boselli, finally
DeMarcus Ware, first ballot

The problem I have is that every year there are five spots available and more than five worthy candidates, and the pool or worthy players increases faster than the space allowed for them. They can't make class sized too big, as it wouldn't make sense logistically to induct copious people every year, but just adding one or two more spaces shouldn't be too hard to accommodate. I might go with 6-7 normal player inductees, 1-2 seniors, and 1-2 contributor/coach slots, giving us 8-11 inductees each year (with greater emphasis on the actual players).

44 If this is your name,…

In reply to by Laverneus Dinglefoot

If this is your name, amazing and it should be Name of the Year (tragically no 2021 tourney).

If this isn't, and it's any way a Laveranues Coles ref, I've just been made a small but significant bit happier than I was five minutes ago by thinking for the first time in years of the crazy spelling, which I've always assumed was some kind of birth certificate mishap.

46 A disappointing finale

It is not my real name. It was one of a few names I adopted as stage personas when I was in a band in high school, and it was the first thing I could think of when setting up social media and message board accounts when I cared to maintain some degree of anonymity. My real name is Bryan Frye, which is way less fun and likely only makes people think of a quarterback who retired the same year as Laveranues Coles. Bad news all around, I'm afraid.

41 The good and the bad news

is that these are insoluble problems, in the absence (or impossibility) of clear, objective guidelines. So there will always be entertainment value in these kinds of debates.

One thing to worry about is a loss of exclusivity. My own opinion is that should take precedence. If there is a single best way to protect that as the Hall approaches 350 members, it would be to reduce the eligibility period. Tony Boselli hasn't played since 2002, Sam Mills since 1997, and even as a Bills fan I wasn't thrilled either with Tasker's candidacy or the length of time it lasted. All of them had/have had decade-long looks and didn't get in. I think that would help in creating a sense of urgency around candidates that might help figure out a way to distill their candidacies in a way that's more clear. And yes, some 'deserving' people will be left out. That's kind of the point, unless the HoF turns into a glorified Pro Bowl designation.  

43  If there is a single best…

 If there is a single best way to protect that as the Hall approaches 350 members, it would be to reduce the eligibility period.

Yeah, no. That completely screws non-stat players. It takes forever for non-stat players to get in. Stat players get tons of attention due to any number of factors (easier to throw out numbers, fantasy football recognition, etc.). 

I think that would help in creating a sense of urgency around candidates that might help figure out a way to distill their candidacies in a way that's more clear

Marginal players already get "bumps" quite often in their final years, which often seem like a way to get the Senior Committee to pay attention to them.

It'd probably be better to just put a limit on the number of times a player can appear on a finalist ballot rather than an eligibility limit. That'd help move off players who are never going to get in, but because of the way voting works (there's no minimum vote percentage for semifinalist/finalist, but there is for the Hall) can basically clog up a finalist spot until they drop off.

42 Counterpoint

It’s the Hall of Fame. Hester in!

Said another way, if the NFL had never had one of Wayne, Holt or Johnson… I’m kinda like, so what? There have been a bunch of guys — not hundreds, but dozens — who were their equivalents. 

But if there had never been a Devin Hester — man, big loss for the fun of being a fan! He was sui generis, and we haven’t had an equivalent return man since.

45 (Leaving aside the Patterson…

In reply to by carlosla

(Leaving aside the Patterson stuff.)

I started to sort of agree, on the usual MVP vs OPOY basis. Sure, the MVP is really always a quarterback, but I'd love it to be for the best player. And I'd rather the HoF picked the best safety of an era over the fifth best WR.

But then I thought: Hester really isn't the same thing, because the best player won't end up as a kick returner - there will have been a good chunk of NFL players who I'm pretty sure would be better kick returners than him, and we can all think of names of people who did it for a bit, were amazing and then were too precious to risk. I bet, for a start, that Steve Smith (what the hell is Smith doing not on that list?) would have done just fine. It's more that Hester had that one skill to high level when he didn't have the other ones needed to be a top WR or RB.