Thomas, Revis, Freeney picked as Hall of Fame finalists
Nick Wass / AP, file
Wednesday, January 4, 2023 | 11:38 p.m
Joe Thomas, Darrelle Revis and Dwight Freeney are finalists in their first year of eligibility for the Pro Football Hall of Fame class of 2023.
The 15 modern-day players to be considered later this month by the selection committee include returning finalists DeMarcus Ware, Patrick Willis, Zach Thomas and Andre Johnson.
Six more returning finalists were announced Wednesday with Jared Allen, Willie Anderson, Ronde Barber, Devin Hester, Torry Holt and Reggie Wayne returning in this round.
Defensive backs Albert Lewis and Darren Woodson reached this stage for the first time with Lewis reaching the semi-final stage in 2013 and Woodson getting there six times.
A maximum of five modern day players may be selected for registration in August at the Canton, Ohio hall. The inductees will be announced Feb. 9 at NFL Honors, the prime-time telecast during which The Associated Press reveals its individual award winners for the 2022 season.
The committee will also consider former Chargers and Cardinals coach Don Coryell in the head coaches category and three top candidates: Super Bowl V MVP Chuck Howley and All-Pro linebackers Joe Klecko and Ken Riley.
Joe Thomas was one of the best hitters in the league during a steady 11-year career that saw him selected first team All-Pro six times and second team two more times. He had a streak of 10,363 consecutive games while playing for the Browns throughout his career.
Revis, who also went undrafted in 2007, moved around a lot more, spending time with the Jets, Tampa Bay, New England and Kansas City.
His best stretch came in New York, where he was a first-team All-Pro from 2009-11 and finished second in Defensive Player of the Year voting in 2009, when he consistently shut down leading receivers by sending them to ” Revis Island”.
Revis spent one year in New England, helping the Patriots win the Super Bowl in the 2014 season.
Freeney spent most of his 16-year career in Indianapolis, where his speed and dominant spin motion led to 125 1/2 career sacks. He anchored a defense that complemented a high-powered offense led by Peyton Manning and helped the Colts win the Super Bowl after the 2006 season.
Ware, a four-time All-Pro, led the Cowboys in sacks for eight seasons, led the NFL in sacks twice and won a Super Bowl with Denver after the 2015 season. He finished with 138 1/2 sacks and made the All-Decade team of the NFL of the 2000s.
Johnson twice made the All-Pro team during a strong season at wide receiver. He led the league in receptions and yards twice. He finished his career with 1,062 receptions for 14,185 yards and 70 touchdown receptions.
Two of his contemporaries, Holt and Wayne, are also in the final. Holt was selected to the 2000s NFL All-Decade Team and won a Super Bowl with the 1999 Rams. Wayne retired as the NFL’s second all-time leading receiver in the postseason with 93 catches and won a Super Bowl with the Colts .
Zach Thomas and Willis were among the best linemen of their time, with each earning All-Pro honors five times.
Hester is the rare tight end who made his mark primarily on special teams. He opened the 2007 Super Bowl for Chicago with a 92-yard punt return for a touchdown, the only time in Super Bowl history that has happened. A three-time All-Pro, Hester was a member of the 2010 NFL All-Decade Team and one of two return specialists on the NFL 100 All-Time Team.
Anderson was considered one of the elite right tackles in the game for 13 pro seasons with Cincinnati and Baltimore, making three All-Pro teams.
Allen was a four-time All-Pro who led the NFL in rushing twice (2007, 2011) while playing for the Chiefs, Vikings, Bears and Panthers.
Barber was one of the league’s stingiest players during his 16 seasons in Tampa, where he also played some safety. A key to the Tampa-2 defensive scheme, Barber was a three-time All-Pro and a member of the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 2000s. He led the NFL with 10 interceptions in 2001 and won a Super Bowl the following season.
Woodson was a three-time All-Pro safety who helped Dallas win three Super Bowl titles in the 1990s.
Lewis was a defensive star for 16 seasons with Kansas City and the Raiders with two All-Pro nods and 42 career interceptions.