Three first-year eligible players were among the list of semifinalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame class of 2020, which was announced this afternoon.
The initial list of 122 nominees was pared to 25, and that group includes first-timers including safety Troy Polamalu, wide receiver Reggie Wayne and linebacker Patrick Willis.
Four other players were semifinalists for the first time, despite being previously eligible: Linebacker Carl Banks, running backs Fred Taylor and Ricky Watters, and defensive tackle Bryant Young.
There’s a little more room for new faces than in past years, since the Hall has siphoned off coaches and contributors as part of a Centennial Class which is voted upon separately.
The other 18 semifinalists include running backs Edgerrin James, wide receivers Isaac Bruce, Torry Holt, and Hines Ward, offensive linemen Tony Boselli, Alan Faneca, and Steve Hutchinson, defensive linemen Simeon Rice and Richard Seymour, linebackers Clay Matthews, Sam Mills, and Zach Thomas, and defensive backs Steve Atwater, Ronde Barber, LeRoy Butler, John Lynch, and Darren Woodson, and special teamer Steve Tasker.
That group will be voted to 15 finalists, which will be announced in January, with the final deliberations and voting for a class of five modern inductees to be conducted the day before the Super Bowl.
In last year’s voting, the five players who made it to the final 10 but fell just short of induction were Boselli, Faneca, Hutchinson, Atwater, and James. The ones who made the top 15 but not the top 10 included coaches Don Coryell and Tom Flores, Bruce, Seymour, and Lynch.
I give Troy as the only sure fire in this year with an overated Boselli as the next most likely. The one I would really like to see get in though is Steve Tasker as special teams is massively undervalued in the Hall of Fame. Tasker set the standard in special teams excellence and would set the stage nicely for Matthew Slater after he retires.