The finalists for the 2020 class of the Pro Football Hall of Fame have been narrowed down to 15 and it is a star-studded group. In this article, I will break down the 15 finalists and then give my prediction of who will get enshrined in Canton in August.
Steve Atwater, Safety
Steve Atwater played for 11 seasons in the NFL, 10 of them for the Denver Broncos. He was a ferocious hitter and in six seasons he had more than 100 tackles. He was the 20th overall pick in the 1989 NFL Draft, which is famous for having four of the top five picks inducted into the Hall of Fame. One of the best-remembered plays for Atwater happened in a Monday Night Football game against the Kansas City Chiefs when he tackled Christian Okoye, a 260 lb. running back.
Tony Boselli, Tackle
Boselli was the first draft pick in Jacksonville Jaguars’ history. His career was short, but he was considered one of the best tackles of his time. He was a five-time Pro Bowler and a member of the NFL 1990s All-Decade Team.
Isaac Bruce, Wide Receiver
Isaac Bruce played for 16 seasons, 14 of them for the Los Angeles/St. Louis Rams. He had 1,024 receptions for 15,208 yards and 91 touchdowns. He was a key member of the “Greatest Show on Turf” and a four-time Pro Bowler.
LeRoy Butler, Safety
LeRoy Butler spent his entire 12-year career with the Green Bay Packers. He compiled 38 interceptions and is credited with creating the “Lambeau Leap” in 1993. The fan-favorite was a four-time Pro Bowler and a member of the NFL 1990s All-Decade Team.
Alan Faneca, Guard
Alan Faneca played for 13 seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers, New York Jets and Arizona Cardinals. He was an athletic guard who was on the NFL 2000s All-Decade Team and a nine-time Pro Bowler.
Torry Holt, Wide Receiver
Torry Holt played 11 seasons, 10 of them for the St. Louis Rams. He had six seasons with over 1,300 receiving yards. He led the league in receiving in 2000 and 2003. Much like Isaac Bruce, he was a key member of the “Greatest Show on Turf.” Additionally, he was a seven-time Pro Bowler.
Steve Hutchinson, Guard
Steve Hutchinson played for 11 seasons, five with the Seattle Seahawks and six with the Minnesota Vikings. He was highly regarded as the best guard of the 2000s. He was a seven-time Pro Bowler.
Edgerrin James, Running Back
Edgerrin James rushed for 12,246 yards and 80 touchdowns in his career. In 1999, his rookie year and in 2000, James led the NFL in rushing yards. He was a four-time Pro Bowler and was the Offensive Rookie of the Year in 1999.
John Lynch, Safety
John Lynch played for 15 years, 11 with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and four with the Denver Broncos. He made major impacts with both teams as he is a member of both organizations’ Ring of Honor. He had 1,058 tackles, 13 sacks, 26 interceptions and 16 forced fumbles. He was a very smart player and made it to nine Pro Bowls.
Sam Mills, Linebacker
Sam Mills started his football career in the USFL and in 1986 joined the New Orleans Saints along with his USFL head coach Jim Mora. Mills would go on to have a 12-year career with the Saints and Carolina Panthers. He was an undersized player who made an impact on the teams he played for. His career numbers include 1,265 tackles, 20.5 sacks, 11 interceptions and 22 forced fumbles. He was a five-time Pro Bowler.
Troy Polamalu, Safety
Troy Polamalu played his entire 12-year career for the Pittsburgh Steelers. He had 778 tackles, 12 sacks and 32 interceptions. He was an eight-time Pro Bowler and a two-time Super Bowl Champion. In 2010 he was named the NFL Defensive Player of the Year. This is Polamalu’s first time on the ballot.
Richard Seymour, Defensive End/Defensive Tackle
Richard Seymour played 12 seasons in the NFL, eight for the New England Patriots and four for the Oakland Raiders. He never had more than 60 tackles in a season but he was considered a disruptive force in the middle of the Patriots defensive line. He won three Super Bowls and was a seven-time Pro Bowler.
Zach Thomas, Linebacker
Zach Thomas played 13 seasons in the NFL, 12 for the Miami Dolphins and one for the Dallas Cowboys. He had 1727 tackles and 20.5 sacks in his career. He was a seven-time Pro Bowler and a member of the NFL 2000s All-Decade Team.
Reggie Wayne, Wide Receiver
Reggie Wayne was the model of consistency for NFL wide receivers in the 2000s. He finished his career seventh all-time in career receptions, eighth all-time in receiving yards and 23rd all-time in touchdowns. Wayne played along with 2016 Hall of Fame inductee Marvin Harrison, fellow-finalist Edgerrin James and future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning.
Bryant Young, Defensive Tackle
Bryant Young played his entire 14-year career with the San Francisco 49ers. He played in 208 games and had 89.5 sacks, a big accomplishment for a defensive tackle. He was a member of the NFL 1990s All-Decade Team and was a four-time Pro Bowler.
All of these candidates are worthy of the Hall of Fame, but only five will make it. It is difficult for some positions to get into the Hall of Fame quickly and while I think all the wide receivers should be in, it will be very hard to get more than one inducted. If I had to choose from this group I would go with Isaac Bruce, Steve Atwater, Troy Polamalu, Edgerrin James and Steve Hutchinson. We will have to wait until the night before the Super Bowl to find out who makes it.