2022 Hall of Fame Semifinalists Announced

Devin Hester, Chicago Bears
Devin Hester, Chicago Bears
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

NFL Week 12 - The Hall of Fame has announced its 26 semifinalists for the Class of 2022. First-time eligible players include Anquan Boldin, Devin Hester, Andre Johnson, Robert Mathis, Steve Smith, DeMarcus Ware and Vince Wilfork.

It's an interesting class this year, in part because while there are quite a few interesting and worthy names, there doesn't seem to be any absolute must-haves first-time inductees; no Peyton Mannings or Calvin Johnsons among them. That may leave more room this year for some players who have been knocking on the door for years to finally get their due.

Devin Hester is the name likely to garner the most debate. He is (arguably) the best ever at what he did; the question is whether or not punt return magic alone is worthy of a spot in the Hall over a player who was on the field more, even if they weren't as splashy. There are solid arguments on both sides, so get ready for the Irrational Hester Versus Tony Boselli discussion thread!

Here is the full list of semifinalists. 15 of these players will move on to become finalists, along with coach Dick Vermeil, contributor Art McNally and senior nominee Cliff Branch.

  • Eric Allen, CB – 1988-1994 Philadelphia Eagles, 1995-97 New Orleans Saints, 1998-2001 Oakland Raiders
  • Jared Allen, DE – 2004-07 Kansas City Chiefs, 2008-2013 Minnesota Vikings, 2014-15 Chicago Bears, 2015 Carolina Panthers
  • Willie Anderson, T – 1996-2007 Cincinnati Bengals, 2008 Baltimore Ravens
  • Ronde Barber, CB-S – 1997-2012 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  • Anquan Boldin, WR – 2003-09 Arizona Cardinals, 2010-12 Baltimore Ravens, 2013-15 San Francisco 49ers, 2016 Detroit Lions
  • Tony Boselli, T – 1995-2001 Jacksonville Jaguars
  • LeRoy Butler, S – 1990-2001 Green Bay Packers
  • Eddie George, RB – 1996-2003 Houston Oilers/Tennessee Oilers-Titans, 2004 Dallas Cowboys
  • Devin Hester, PR-KR-WR – 2006-2013 Chicago Bears, 2014-15 Atlanta Falcons, 2016 Baltimore Ravens
  • Torry Holt, WR – 1999-2008 St. Louis Rams, 2009 Jacksonville Jaguars
  • Andre Johnson, WR – 2003-2014 Houston Texans, 2015 Indianapolis Colts, 2016, Tennessee Titans
  • Robert Mathis, DE-LB – 2003-2016 Indianapolis Colts
  • Sam Mills, LB – 1986-1994 New Orleans Saints, 1995-97 Carolina Panthers
  • Richard Seymour, DE-DT – 2001-08 New England Patriots, 2009-2012 Oakland Raiders
  • Steve Smith, WR – 2001-2013 Carolina Panthers, 2014-16 Baltimore Ravens
  • Steve Tasker, ST-WR – 1985-86 Houston Oilers, 1986-1997 Buffalo Bills
  • Fred Taylor, RB – 1998-2008 Jacksonville Jaguars, 2009-2010 New England Patriots
  • Zach Thomas, LB – 1996-2007 Miami Dolphins, 2008 Dallas Cowboys
  • Hines Ward, WR – 1998-2011 Pittsburgh Steelers
  • DeMarcus Ware, LB-DE – 2005-2013 Dallas Cowboys, 2014-16 Denver Broncos
  • Ricky Watters, RB – 1992-94 San Francisco 49ers, 1995-97 Philadelphia Eagles, 1998-2001 Seattle Seahawks
  • Reggie Wayne, WR – 2001-2014 Indianapolis Colts
  • Vince Wilfork, DT – 2004-2014 New England Patriots, 2015-16 Houston Texans
  • Patrick Willis, LB – 2007-2014 San Francisco 49ers
  • Darren Woodson, S – 1992-2003 Dallas Cowboys
  • Bryant Young, DT – 1994-2007 San Francisco 49ers

Next year's new enshrinees will be announced on February 10, 2022.


10 comments, Last at 26 Nov 2021, 9:38am

1 Tanier Has Opinions

Tossing my initial thoughts here...


I will start thinking about Devin Hester if he reaches the Finalist field. As fascinating as his case is, I don't see him getting that far, and I definitely don't see him pushing through to the final five.

Process of elimination: I will be stunned if Eddie George, Fred Taylor or RIcky Watters reaches the Finalist stage. I am also suprised to see Tasker's name keep bubbling up. I feel like any chance Tasker ever had (and I find his case spurious) is blocked by Hester at this point.

Big Eric Allen fan. Don't see him reaching Finalist. Pretty skeptical about Hines Ward, especially with several recent receivers aiming for the ballot. I have a feeling Anquan Boldin will be the odd man out from him, Andre and Steve Smith.

Gonna shoo LeRoy Butler and Zach Thomas all the way to the front of the queue. This is probably Boselli's induction year, too. He's definitely a finalist, again.

I personally feel like it's time to send Sam Mills to the seniors committee, but it doesn't work that way. I frankly feel like he's cluttering up the Finalist pool at this point. Would rather see Willie Anderson start the Finalist process.

No idea what to do about the Edge guys. Maybe just induct one per year, alphabetically. That's not how it works, so they are going to logjam. 


3 Mostly with you, here…

Mostly with you, here.

Somehow, this is the ninth time Tasker will be a semifinalist, the eighth for Holt, the seventh for Boselli.  At a certain point, you've either got to wave them through or start considering someone else

I might send half-a-dozen receivers to the finalist list between Boldin, Holt, Johnson, Smith, Ward and Wayne, but that's a group that's going to take some serious hacking down; they're likely to steal votes from one another in the room.

I wish the Hall would either induct Zach Thomas or get him out of the way. I do wonder how much of Patrick Willis not even getting a finalist nod last year was due to Thomas's seemingly eternal candidacy.

I'd love to see Bryant Young make the final 15, just so we get a few weeks of everyone remembering how good Young was. I don't think I could justify pushing him to the final five, or even getting through the first cut, and every team has someone like Young they'd love to see remembered; he's a team ring-of-honor guy more than a gold jacket guy.  But man, he was good.

5 Willis has a pretty strong…

Willis has a pretty strong case. Kinda waiting for Finalist to see what happens. I think ZT gets in. He has mostly been logjammed, though there's some other stuff there.

Tasker was a Finalist a few times, then dropped out. There's simply no room in a Final Five for a guy who was basically a kick gunner. Boselli has been hanging around 7th or 8th for a few years. Holt and Wayne (the Sammy Hagar Receivers) keep blocking each other.

Young would be a fine semifinalist. From a "how to get in the Hall" standpoint, he's better off on the sidelines for Niners fans because it will be easier to push for Willis. 

9 That's literally what I said…

That's literally what I said about Mills (and Clay Thomas) last year. It's really frustrating to me when guys get bumped to finalist in their last years of eligibility just to get attention for seniors committee.

It's frustrating because some guys clearly actually need discussion, and Mills just doesn't. But because the committee virtually never drops someone in status, once a finalist, always one.

Thomas better be automatic at this point, it's ridiculous.

Also, WTF no Kevin Williams. Again. Can we just call it the Hall of Not Interior Players already?

2 Finalists: Jared Allen,…

Finalists: Jared Allen, Anquan Boldin, Tony Bosselli, LeRoy Butler, Steve Smith, Zach Thomas, DeMarcus Ware, Reggie Wayne, Darren Woodson, Bryant Young, Torry Holt, Andre Johnson, Richard Seymour, Hines Ward, Fred Taylor


Enshrinees: Allen, Butler, Busselli, Thomas, Ware

4 I had the same players…

I had the same players Tanier mentioned as not making finalist - Watters, Taylor, George, Hester, Tasker, Allen, Ward, Boldin, Mills. There needs to be two more, so I threw out Johnson and Woodson (Could very well be Barber instead of Woodson).

15 players left, I had three WRs and chose Wayne over Smith and Holt. Could be Holt, but either way I don't think the voters would consider Smith a first-ballot guy. (I mean, a HoFer's a HoFer. This is all just one big rigmarole to decide who's more worthy even though the "less worthy" players will get in eventually, but I digress.)

I like Anderson and he's gaining steam, but I don't think his case is loud enough yet.

4 D-linemen: Wilfork's not getting in before Seymour, I wouldn't consider Young one of the top-5 players left, and I chose Allen over Seymour mainly because he was a higher profile/bigger personality when he played.

Of the two pass rushers, Ware has a better case than Mathis, and he'll be the lone first-ballot guy.

Like Young, I don't think Barber (or Woodson) is one of the top-5 players left. Butler is my lock as the guy who's waited too long, so I'm left with Willis, Thomas, and Boselli. Of them, I like Willis the most, but I think the voters are more likely to go with either of the other two to finally get them in. I initially had Thomas, but I think Boselli would be more likely since Thomas would make a defensively-lopsided class, 4-1.

6 I think Anderson needs a…

I think Anderson needs a year on the Finalist list so the argument can start. And it would really help if Boselli pushed in. One interesting dynamic is the "career is not long enough" doubters for Boselli (there are some on the committee) might endorse Anderson. More likely, at least in the first year, is that they will endorse "let's get some defenders or WRS in."

8 I'd vote for

I'd vote for Butler, Boselli, Ware, Mills, and Jared Allen. Yeah that's a lot of defense. 

10 WR Bunch

There's pretty much no basis for separating Smith, Wayne, Johnson, Boldin and Holt. Either they should be all in or all not. Personally I would say all not.

Why is Henry Ellard (13,700 yds on far fewer receptions, avge 16.9 per catch, in a less pass-friendly era) not in ahead of all of those guys?

For me it would be Boselli-Butler-Seymour-Ware-Willis.