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.


19 comments, Last at 01 Dec 2021, 12:38pm

#1 by Mike Tanier // Nov 24, 2021 - 3:11pm

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. 


Points: 0

#3 by Bryan Knowles // Nov 24, 2021 - 3:23pm

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.

Points: 0

#5 by Mike Tanier // Nov 24, 2021 - 3:41pm

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. 

Points: 0

#9 by Pat // Nov 26, 2021 - 8:55am

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?

Points: 0

#2 by MrMan // Nov 24, 2021 - 3:21pm

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

Points: 0

#4 by spybloom // Nov 24, 2021 - 3:38pm

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.

Points: 0

#6 by Mike Tanier // Nov 24, 2021 - 3:43pm

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."

Points: 0

#7 by ImNewAroundThe… // Nov 24, 2021 - 7:36pm

That's all I know

Points: 0

#8 by BroncFan07 // Nov 24, 2021 - 7:46pm

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

Points: 0

#10 by LondonMonarch // Nov 26, 2021 - 9:38am

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.

Points: 0

#11 by GwillyGecko // Nov 27, 2021 - 2:09am

Boselli, Ware, Allen, Seymour, Young

Points: 0

#14 by ImNewAroundThe… // Nov 28, 2021 - 5:57pm

despite having 1/4th the AP 1st team all pros


Points: 0

#12 by Mash Wilson // Nov 27, 2021 - 7:45pm


Would not induct any of them.


I would favor Holt for induction, probably none of the others.


Both are well qualified Hall of Famers, IMO.


In favor of inducting Allen, Wilfork, and Young; on the fence about Seymour.


Ware and Willis belong.


I would vote for Butler and Barber, but probably not in the top five.

Irrelevant/Not good enough to ever start on offense or defense but good enough for the Hall of Fame!?:

Forced to pick five guys, I would go with (in no particular order) Torry Holt, Tony Boselli, Jared Allen, Vince Wilfork, and DeMarcus Ware.

You can't make a list like this without pissing some people off, but I am open to rational persuasion.

Points: 0

#13 by ImNewAroundThe… // Nov 28, 2021 - 5:55pm

despite having 1/4th the AP 1st team all pros


Points: 0

#15 by MJK // Nov 29, 2021 - 5:41pm

A little surprised that Rodney Harrison isn't even making it to the semifinalist stage.  I get that he was viewed as a dirty player, which  lessened the number of Pro Bowls he was nominated to and probably makes actually making the Hall a longshot, but not having him on this list of semifinalists is a little incredible.

There was a pretty convincing case made in an article on NFL.com (albeit by the admittedly biased Scott Pioli) as to why he should at least be considered. Bottom line is that Harrison is at least as deserving as players that have made the Hall, like John Lynch.  I found the arguments fairly convincing.  

Points: 0

#16 by RobotBoy // Nov 30, 2021 - 1:28am

Before Tanier's 'the Pats had a terrible offseason, Jones will fail, Belichick is overrated' tour-bus crashed into a wall, he wrote a piece on how the Pats dynasty had more than enough representation in the HOF. His list of Pats HOFers was rather disingenuous, including as it did a player like Seau, who was a backup by the time he got into NE (and Moss, who played all of three seasons in NE). In truth, the Belichick Pats are rather underrepresented in the Hall considering the success. You have Ty Law. That's it. Yes, of course Belichick and Brady are going in, and Vinatieri probably. Still, that's a rather slim portfolio. One of the issues for NE defensive players is that Belichick's system(s) tended to limit their counting stats. Edge rushers, for example, generally have unimpressive sack numbers, in part because of Belichick's insistence on run-lane discipline. Chandler Jones - who is looking more like he'll get in the HOF - has had three seasons in Arizona with higher sack totals than his best year in NE, and is on his way to a 4th. The reason: in large part, Jones' role is different in AZ.  Even if you believe Belichick is the greatest coach of all time (he's up there), or Brady is the greatest QB of all time (top five certainly), it took a lot more than those two to win games. Other players executed their roles at very high levels for years, and the Pats won games and titles. On the defense, nobody was more central to what Belichick wanted done on D than Wilfork. Yet unless you study his work in the trenches, and know his scheme responsibilities, it's tough to grasp just how important Wilfork was. For me, he should be a shoo-in. I think several Pats LBs should also get in, considering how much Belichick built around that unit.

Points: 0

#17 by Pat // Nov 30, 2021 - 10:41am

On the defense, nobody was more central to what Belichick wanted done on D than Wilfork. Yet unless you study his work in the trenches, and know his scheme responsibilities, it's tough to grasp just how important Wilfork was. For me, he should be a shoo-in. 

Wilfork being a semifinalist before Kevin Williams is just wacko.

Don't get me wrong, I actually agree with you quite a bit and I'd be happy if Wilfork made it in, too (plus Seymour). But Williams just flat out forced teams to shift away from him and then he still caused problems.

I just don't get what the hell is happening with Hall voting and Kevin Williams. I could totally understand a debate over Wilfork, because it's subtle (like you said) - he wasn't obviously dominant to everyone. He's a nose tackle in a 3-4, that's the interior-ist of interior positions, and those guys always get screwed (see center). But friggin' Williams was All-Pro 1st Team five times. Everyone already recognized the guy was dominant, but now five years later suddenly people are like "but... was he really?" or something? Don't get it.

It's a freaking miracle Wilfork's even a semifinalist, to be honest.

Points: 0

#18 by Raiderjoe // Dec 01, 2021 - 12:30pm

agred. kevin williams should be up for cionsideration and not forgotten abotu. not an al time immortal like jerry rice of reggie white or jim brown where even the casual fan knows the guy b tu K. williams definitelty worthy of HOF honor.

vince wilforknot as great as williams



Points: 0

#19 by Raiderjoe // Dec 01, 2021 - 12:38pm

Idf I made all the PFHOF induction decisions-

eric allen- no

jared allen- yes

willie anderson- tes

ronde barber= yes

anquan boldin- no

tony boselli- no

LeRoy Butler- yes

eddie george- no

devin hester- no

torry holt- yes

andre johnson- no

robert mathis- no

sam mills- no

richard seymour- yes

steve smith- yes

steve tasker- no

Fred Taylor- no

zach thomas- no

hines ward- no

DeMarcus Ware- yes

   ricky watters- no

reggie wayne- no

vince wilfork- no

patrick willis- yes

darren woodson- no

bryant young- yes

Points: 0

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