Could this be the year another Pittsburgh Steelers great gets elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton?
Six former Steelers greats have at least a shot at being part of the Class of 2023, as the Hall of Fame announced 129 modern era nominees Tuesday. The six Steelers include wide receiver Hines Ward, defensive tackle Casey Hampton, linebacker Chad Brown, linebacker James Farrior, linebacker James Harrison, and kicker Gary Anderson.
Harrison is one of nine players that makes the list in his first year of eligibility, including running back Chris Johnson, offensive linemen Jahri Evans and Joe Thomas, defensive lineman Dwight Freeney, linebacker NaVorro Bowman, defensive backs Kam Chancellor and Darrelle Revis and punter Shane Lechler.
The roster of nominees consists of 67 offensive players, 50 defensive players and 12 special teams players. The list of Modern-Era Nominees will be reduced to 25 Semifinalists in November and, from there, to 15 Finalists whose names will be announced in early January.
Harrison has likely the best shot at landing in the Hall of Fame, thanks to his four All-Pro accolades, five Pro Bowls, the 2008 NFL Defensive Player of the Year award and 80.5 career sacks in the NFL over 16 seasons. Harrison’s story is well-known and his dominance for a five-year span in the NFL will undoubtedly draw him some positive attention.
Farrior and Hampton are unlikely to make it into the Hall of Fame, but that doesn’t discount their terrific play while members of the Steelers, playing key roles in two Super Bowl championships while part of a legendary defense.
The same goes for Chad Brown, who recorded 79.0 career sacks in the NFL and had two All-Pros and three Pro Bowls. He was a key figure in the Blitzburgh defense in the 90s, but he doesn’t have Hall of Fame credentials.
With Ward and Anderson, there’s certainly a discussion to be had regarding the two, especially Ward. As a member of the Steelers, Ward hauled in 1,000 passes for 12,083 yards and 85 touchdowns in 14 seasons, earning four trips to the Pro Bowl and three All-Pro accolades. Still, he finds himself in a tough crowd at the wide receiver position of the 129 modern era nominees.
Along with Ward at wide receiver, names like Torry Holt, Anquan Boldin, Andre Johnson, Steve Smith, Reggie Wayne, remain, three of which were finalists in 2022. It’ll be a long, tough road to haul for Ward when it comes to reaching the Hall of Fame.
Anderson is one of 10 kickers and punters to be nominated for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2023. Just two full-time kickers have ever been elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.