Hall of Fame Class of 2023 Nominees Announced

Former Cleveland OT Joe Thomas
Former Cleveland OT Joe Thomas
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

NFL Week 3 - Former Cleveland Browns six-time All Pro left tackle Joe Thomas and former New York Jets and New England Patriots cornerback Darrelle Revis of “Revis Island” fame headline the new names among the 129 former players nominated for the Pro Football Hall of Fame class of 2023 on Tuesday.

The Hall of Fame field will be reduced to 25 semifinalists in November and 15 finalists in January. The selection committee will then meet to select five inductees sometime before the Super Bowl.

Thomas and Revis should breeze through to the finalist stage. Thomas is almost certain to be selected to the Hall of Fame on his first ballot. Revis also has a strong case to be a first-ballot selection.

Other first-time nominees include former Indianapolis Colts and Arizona Cardinals pass rusher Dwight Freeney, Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison, Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson, New Orleans Saints guard Jahri Evans, Seattle Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor, San Francisco 49ers linebacker NaVarro Bowman and Oakland Raiders punter Shane Lechler.

Freeney has the best chance of that group to reach the finalist stage, though long-time teammate and fellow edge rusher Robert Mathis stalled at the semifinalist stage in 2021. The others, despite impressive accomplishments, are likely to peak as semifinalists in their first year of eligibility if they get that far. 

The usual long-time finalists are also among the nominees, most notably Miami Dolphins linebacker Zach Thomas, a five-time All-Pro who has reached the finalist stage five times. Wide receivers Torry Holt, Andre Johnson and Reggie Wayne, all finalists last year, are also among the nominees, as are 2022 semifinalists at the position Anquan Boldin, Steve Smith and Hines Ward. Those receivers, like edge rushers Jared Allen, Demarcus Ware and Mathis-Freeney, are likely to crowd one another out due to limited space on each stage of the ballot. 

The vast nominee field is both a celebration of greats from the recent past and a sobering reminder of just how high the bar for entry to the Pro Football Hall of Fame truly is. Among the famous names unlikely to progress to the semifinalist stage: Randall Cunningham, Donovan McNabb, Tiki Barber, Warrick Dunn, Wes Welker, Nick Mangold, D’Brickashaw Ferguson, Tedy Bruschi, London Fletcher, Rodney Harrison, and many other popular favorites among hometown fan bases.

Check out the full ballot in the link below and tell us what you think!
 

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Comments

45 comments, Last at 26 Sep 2022, 12:50pm

1 Deep Breaths....Revis…

Deep Breaths....

Revis should be a first ballot lock. I have argued here and elsewhere he deserves to be mentioned among the GOAT candidates for cb. To this point in the entire history of charting data, there has never been a player like Revis. Not only that, there has never been, to my mind, an entire defensive scheme built around a corner like Revis. Listen to former DBs like Matt Bowen and they will explain that switching sides on the field is a challenge because of how much your instincts play off familiarity of the field. And of course, defending the slot is a whole other animal. Revis didn't care. He went wherever the coach asked. He is on a short list of the very very elite players I have ever seen. People need to also remember, if its never been easier to pass the fooball in this day and age; then the corollary is also true - it has never been harded to defend the pass. Deion is largely considered the best corner ever by some wide margin despite the fact that his era was easier and the fact that absolutely no one was doing full league charting. Not so for Revis. 

Joe Thomas should win an extra jacket for being so amazing in Cleveland during probably the worst stretch of prolonged abysmal football in modern nfl history. Seriously, google the list of names at quarterback during his career that he had the misfortune of blocking for.

I think Freeney and Harrison is going to be a fun debate. Freeney has and deserves to be dogged for his lack of run stoutness. But the guy was a freakin terror as a pass rusher. Harrison was better probably even as a pass rusher but certainly as a run defender than Freeney, but his career is so short especially compared to Freeney. I think both should get in, though I can understand the hesitancy. And of course, I am admittedly biased. 

Kam Chancellor probably falls just shy, but I think he was an amazing player in his own right and a very underrated contributor to the Legion of Boom. Thomas got all of the headlines in part because of his high draft pedigree, but Chancellor was the prototypical box safety who could cover and be that linebacker hybrid when the Seahawks needed to. If you need more convincing of his prowess, watch how he defended Rob Gronkowski; probably the literal only person who had the size and speed and height to do it well enough. 

Other name worth mentioning is Jahri Evans, who I didn't follow much beyond his best days in NO. I do remember charting stats actually painted Carl Nicks as the better player, but of course his career was ridiculously short. 

3 Agreed on those four

Probably it's because his peak coincides with the years where I was rewatching games/rating defensive players (and because he so often frustrated me as a fan who was not rooting for his team), but Harrison certainly left a hall-of-famer impression on me.

2 I'd imagine Thomas, Evans,…

I'd imagine Thomas, Evans, Freeney and Revis would be the most likely first-time finalists; though I'd to push James Harrison to at least the semifinalist stage; get him through one cut early on,

I feel like Thomas and Revis should be first-ballot guys in this crop, which would leave three slots for your WR du jour (Wayne? Holt?), your LB Congaline (Thomas before Willis, apparently), and That Guy You Like Who Never Gets Enough Votes (hard to believe Kevin Williams has never been a semifinalist)

14 That Guy You Like Who Never…

That Guy You Like Who Never Gets Enough Votes should be reserved for people crowing for special-teams gunners and fan favorites (cough Fred Taylor cough). Not friggin' 5 time All Pros.

I've crowed about Williams for forever, and even though Mike Tanier insists "he'll get in eventually" I don't think Mike has an appreciation of how dense the field's going to get soon.

No one aged out last year, so there are only 5 finalist slots to fill (yeah, sure, "they vote on them fresh every year," whatever, let's be serious). Thankfully Steve Tasker aged out so there's an extra semifinalist slot (so 6 total), so your list could be Thomas, Evans, Freeney, Revis, Harrison, and Williams.

The big downside there is that there are a bunch of really deserving guys are going to age out soon without even getting to the semifinalist level because for some reason people are going to want to hear about how great Hines Ward's blocking was for 15 years or something. Nickerson's only got a few more years before he ages out, Webb's never even going to get a discussion (which is nuts considering the competition he faced). And given the oncoming wave of first-ballot players I have my doubts that even guys like Saturday, Nalen, or Kreutz will ever even get a discussion, which is just sad.

16 Kevin Williams had more AP1s…

Kevin Williams had more AP1s than Joe Greene or Warren Sapp!
https://www.pro-football-reference.com/hof/hofm_DT.htm

He's the best retired DT not in the Hall of Fame, and he's substantially better than many guys who are.

\Take a peek at his passes-defensed. He's far and away the best DT at that ever.

17 Williams is obviously the…

Williams is obviously the Hall's giant WTF.

But I also don't understand why, say, Hardy Nickerson's never even been nominated (also wtf) and Swilling's probably going to age out without ever even getting a discussion at the semifinalist level because there just had to be 3 years of Steve Tasker discussions and probably 15 years of Fred Taylor discussions.

4 why freeney?

Why Freeney over, say, Mathis?  Their numbers are very similar, they were teammates, and Mathis is already in the queue.  Mathis has only two more sacks (125 to 123) but a lot more tackles.  I don't usually like using tackles as a stat in this context, but they were teammates after all. 

 

 

6 One of these men is the…

One of these men is the greatest player in the history of his position, and will bar-none raise the HOF level. He’s on two PFHoF all-decade teams. There is only one other player at his position with more than half his number of All-Pro seasons.

I speak of Shane Lechler.

He won’t get in, but take a peek. 

20 can any punter get in?

He did play for the Raiders, which aligns with precedent.  But they made Ray Guy wait an extremely long time before induction.

I'd vote for Lechler before Yet Another Pass Rusher.

32 There's six WRs in the…

There's six WRs in the finalist/semifinalist list right now, far and away the largest number at a position. Thankfully there won't be another one added for probably 3 more years (Fitz) and then who knows after that (since Julio's still playing), and Brown's going to be a giant question mark.

But I just think Smith/Boldin/Ward are just going to be clogging up the semifinalists for like the next 10 years. Which is part of the problem - I actually think you might be able to make an argument all/most of them should get in - again, there's like, 2-3 more that'll show up in the next 10 years most likely. But they shouldn't be at the semifinalist level now, because it's hurting guys who have less time left.

43 Here's my sense. None of…

Here's my sense.

None of Smith/Boldin/Ward should get in. Boldin would be fairly egregious imo. Ward I just think was a cut below the leading receivers of his day. And Smith was a hof caliber receiver but toiled on some limited pass offenses. Still, this is the hall of fame based on actual production, not theorized production so I don't think he should get in.

That leaves Holt and Wayne and really a fun debate between longevity and peak, with me leaning to Holt being more hall of fame worthy candidate. But that said, if it were me, I would say no. 

12 Revis and Thomas are shoe…

Revis and Thomas are shoe-ins, "locks of the week" if you will lol.

 

Harrison and Freeney will both get in one day, but it seems to be more likely that Freeney will get in first and probably this year because he has 50% more sacks and was arguably more popular and basically the face of the Indy defense while Harrison was one of several between him and Polamalu and Farrior etc.

21 James Harrison/Dwight Freeney

Harrison actually won DPoY, while Freeney was just a pass rush specialist.  Harrison had a shorter peak (and it started later), but I'd argue it was higher.

I'd be very surprised if Freeney were to get in this year.  There's a delay going on with pass rushers. I don't see Freeney skipping pass Jared Allen.  Allen has more career sacks, a higher peak, more 1st team All-Pro selections, and has been waiting.  All of those observations also hold for DeMarcus Ware. 

Back to James Harrison: his relatively short peak is going to hurt him. He didn't see any starts until he was 26, and didn't start full-time until he was 29. 

Conclusion: both Harrison and Freeney are going into the queue.  I think Allen's next in line.

15 Jahri: Packers legend!

Deserves to be in, at least at some point. Same with Shane "the 🐐 P" Lechler. But Zach Thomas has been waiting a while.

Kam was good for his time but I don't think there's much of a convo there for him. Then again LeBeau went in...as a player (they really need to get rid of those designations because his playing career wasn't horrible, but he's only really in because of his work as a DC...in Pitt, Cincy years weren't exactly great either. Makes more sense as a mix).

Suffice to say I think my 5 are:

  1. Joe Thomas - 10/10 years he was a starter, he was a PBer. Only other year was cut short. 
  2. Zach Thomas - been on hold for a decade 
  3. Torry Holt - arguably better (peak) then fellow teammate Isaac Bruce
  4. Darrelle Revis - Pretty good
  5. Ronde Barber - been on hold for half a decade

 

28 LeBeau was a Hall of Very…

In reply to by Raiderfan

LeBeau was a Hall of Very Good player without his coaching career. But of course he had his coaching career.

36 Like I said:

In reply to by Raiderfan

Not horrible but there's a reason he didn't get in until he won a SB as a coach. 

But they probably saw his record as a coach and also went "oh...ehhhhh not...horrible?" Slapped em together and called it a day. Ermmm career. Which is fine in the grand scheme of things...if they didn't designate what they go in as.

38 Isaac Bruce had an almost 1…

Isaac Bruce had an almost 1,800 receiving yard season in 1995. Sure, Holt was amazing, but I’m not sure you can have a higher peak than that, and Holt’s two 1,600+ yard seasons were with excellent QB play, unlike Bruce’s 1995.

But seriously, Bruce’s 1995 Pro Bowl snub has to be the biggest in league history, at least for a skill position player.

41 No doubt a great year.

But that was also on 199 targets. And 210 of those yards came in the last week. Definitely not better than Rices more 1Ds, TDs and yards on less targets. Less 1Ds and TDs than Moore too so it's debatable. 

It's arguable but Holt has an AP1 unlike Bruce (while playing with him at that) and Bruce had an extra 5 years to find another one. Was Holt 3 years of waiting worse than Bruce? Ehhhhh I don't know. 

18 Revis, Joe Thomas, Ronde…

Revis, Joe Thomas, Ronde Barber, Torry Holt, Zach Thomas.  Two easy first ballots, then a few clear-outs from the backlog.

25 Joe Thomas and Revis seem…

Joe Thomas and Revis seem great first time choices. James Harrison was a dirty player even after the NFL started cracking down, so no. 

29 Joe Thomas Zach Thomas…

  1. Joe Thomas
  2. Zach Thomas
  3. Darrelle Revis
  4. Kevin Williams
  5. Leroy Butler

It's kind of embarrassing that Young got in last year ahead of Williams, so we're full up on borderline 49ers players, which hurts Willis and Bowman. Incidentally, of those two, which will 49ers fans stan for?

SFists:

  1. Allen
  2. Anderson
  3. Barber
  4. Evans
  5. Freeney
  6. Holt
  7. Lechler
  8. Mathis
  9. Smith
  10. Ware

31 Butler got in last year. I'm…

Butler got in last year.

I'm also assuming by "SFists" you mean "finalists." There are 25 total semifinalists and 15 finalists. I am, however, depressed that while you did swap up the finalist list a ton, I'm not sure why Lechler would deserve more continued discussion than Patrick Willis.

(I love that you sent basically all the WRs - and the silliness of Devin Hester - packing)

35 I did mean finalists, yes…

I did mean finalists, yes.

Willis and Bowman were basically my question there. Basically, I see them as mostly interchangeable, but 49ers fans seem to tout Bowman pretty hard.
https://stathead.com/football/pcm_finder.cgi?request=1&sum=0&player_id1=BowmNa99&player_id2=WillPa98

I would put one of them on the finalist list, but only one, I think, and I lean towards Willis.

Yeah, I knocked a bunch of the WRs down. Smith, I think, should be in. Holt I would not object to. Ward had a really interesting career and I wish there were a place to commemorate guys like him -- how many WRs were feared by LBs because of their blocking? -- but I'm not sure he really belongs in the Hall based on his prowess at receiving.

37 In my experience, it's been…

In my experience, it's been the opposite from 49ers fans. If anything, Bowman gets touted because Willis' greatness is considered obvious.  Like how someone might say Sirius is the brightest star, because the sun goes without saying.

30 I don't know why London…

I don't know why London Fletcher is not getting more love. His career numbers are practically identical to Ray Lewis except he lacks the accolades because the Media never gave him the attention he deserved. London Fletcher played in all 256 games of his career, not once missing a game due to injury. The only linebacker in history who can say. He is #2 all-time in Tackles to Ray Lewis. They are the only 2 players with 2,000+ Tackles in their careers. Fletcher won a SB (1999 Rams) and was a starter for another SB (2001 Rams).

 

Ray Lewis:
 

2059 Tackles, 99 TFL, 41.5 Sacks, 31 INT, 96 PD, 19 FF

London Fletcher:

 

2039 Tackles, 109 TFL, 39 Sacks, 23 INT, 96 PD, 19 FF

 

Fletcher is held back by his 4 pro bowl appearances. It should have been more like 7 or 8 Pro Bowls. He is a clear Hall of Famer to me.

34 It's kinda funny that you…

It's kinda funny that you responded to a post full of stats saying "guys who don't have counting stats." But obviously tackles for loss, passes defensed, and tackles overall aren't really considered important. Which is hilarious when you think about it, since a TFL is a sack, and a defensed pass isn't far off either.

But yeah, Fletcher's real problem is just total lack of media acknowledgement, although in some sense I think he didn't have a super-high reputation around the league either (other than just "solid"): Washington got him for a pretty paltry contract.

44 I mean

It's not just pro bowls (where your mentioned 8 still falls 4 short of Lewis, which I should love to know where those extra ones would come from exactly) but also AP1. In fact his only all pro mentions were a couple AP2. And only from the AP. No other publication like PFF, PFW, etc. 

But also Fletcher started more games (240) than Ray even played (228, 227 started). More chances but still falls short (in the above but also QBHits and FR)? Accumulate the most or I'm not a fan of compilers (why I don't care for Gore being in, who's not even top 2).

Of course he was still good but the line needs to be drawn somewhere. Zach Thomas is struggling to get in with 5x AP1 + 7x PB.

45 Problem with PB for guys who…

In reply to by ImNewAroundThe…

Problem with PB for guys who don't really have other stats(non skill players) is the voters get into their head that one guy is the best and then he pretty much gets it till he falls off the map or someone is like amazingly better. 

39 129 nominees?  Jeez, that it…

129 nominees?  Jeez, that it is a lot.  Most of them I haven't seen a ton of, and some almost not at all.  So no opinion.  But, jeez?  129?  I doubt that 5, at most, get in this year.

42 It's worth noting that…

It's worth noting that literally anyone can nominate someone for the Hall of Fame, and this is the first cut.  I mean it, anyone -- you can write to the Hall of Fame and tell them who should be nominated, and that suggestion will be processed and forwarded to the selection committee.  So the list of 129 is "anyone (eligible) who somebody cared enough about to tell the Hall of Fame about".  I think there's a cut at some point to prevent some random person from being nominated year after year without getting any support to move to the semifinal stage; this is technically the Third Preliminary List as this thing is a year-long process, but I'm not sure about that.

But the fact that anyone can nominate anybody is how, say, Pat McAfee shows up on the list. No one really thinks McAfee is a Hall of Famer -- including, for that matter, McAfee, who told people that they should vote for Shane Lechler instead (nevermind that you can't actually vote for anyone, but that's neither here nor there).  The significant majority of the names on this list will never even advance to the semifinalist stage; this is as far as they'll ever go.

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