Joe Thomas, Darrelle Revis, and Dwight Freeney are candidates for the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s class of 2023 in their first year of eligibility.
The selection committee will assess 15 current players later this month, including returning finalists DeMarcus Ware, Patrick Willis, Zach Thomas, and Andre Johnson.
Six additional returning finalists, Jared Allen, Willie Anderson, Ronde Barber, Devin Hester, Torry Holt, and Reggie Wayne, were named on Wednesday.
Albert Lewis and Darren Woodson are the first defensive backs to reach this stage, with Lewis reaching the semifinals in 2013 and Woodson doing it six times.
A maximum of five contemporary players can be selected for induction into the Canton, Ohio, hall each August. The inductees will be recognized on February 9 during NFL Honors, the prime-time television presentation in which The Associated Press reveals its 2022 individual award winners.
Darrelle Revis AP
Revis, who was selected with Joe Thomas in the 2007 NFL Draft, spent time with the Jets, Tampa Bay, New England, and Kansas City.
In New York, he was a first-team All-Pro from 2009 through 2011 and placed second in the voting for Defensive Player of the Year in 2009 after regularly shutting down top receivers by sending them to “Revis Island.”
Revis spent one year in New England, contributing to the Patriots’ 2014 Super Bowl victory.
Joe Thomas was one of the league’s best tackles during his 11-year career, during which he was named to the All-Pro first team six times and the second team twice. He played 10,363 straight plays for the Browns throughout his whole career.
The majority of Freeney’s 16-year career was spent in Indianapolis, where his quickness off the edge and devastating spin move resulted in 125 1/2 career sacks. Following the 2006 season, he spearheaded a defense that complemented a high-powered offense led by Peyton Manning and helped the Colts win the Super Bowl.
AP Joe Thomas
Ware, a four-time All-Pro, led the Cowboys in sacks for eight seasons, led the NFL in sacks twice, and won the 2015 Super Bowl with Denver. He concluded his career with 138 1/2 sacks and was named to the NFL’s 2000s All-Decade Team.
Johnson was named to the All-Pro team twice during a prosperous period for wide receivers. He twice topped the league in receptions and receiving yards. His final career statistics included 1,062 receptions for 14,185 yards and 70 receiving touchdowns.
Holt and Wayne, two of his contemporaries, are also in the finals. Holt was named to the NFL’s 2000s All-Decade Team and won the Super Bowl with the 1999 Rams. Wayne retired as the NFL’s second all-time top postseason receiver with 93 receptions and a Super Bowl victory with the Colts.
Zach Thomas and Willis were two of the best linebackers of their time, as each received five All-Pro awards.
AP Dwight Freeney
Hester is a rare finalist who distinguished himself primarily on special teams. The 2007 Super Bowl was the only occasion in Super Bowl history that a kickoff return for a touchdown of 92 yards had occurred. Hester, a three-time All-Pro, was one of two return specialists on the NFL 100 All-Time Team and a member of the NFL’s 2010s All-Decade Team.
Anderson was regarded as one of the best right tackles in the NFL during his 13 seasons with Cincinnati and Baltimore, during which he was named to three All-Pro teams.
Allen was a four-time All-Pro who twice (2007, 2011) led the NFL in sacks while playing for the Chiefs, Vikings, Bears, and Panthers.
During his 16 seasons in Tampa, when he also played safety, Barber was one of the league’s most effective cover cornerbacks. Barber was a three-time All-Pro and a member of the NFL’s Decade 2000s All-Decade Team. He was also an integral part of the Tampa-2 defensive strategy. In 2001, he led the NFL with 10 interceptions and won the Super Bowl the following year.
In the 1990s, Woodson was a three-time All-Pro safety who helped Dallas win three Super Bowls.
Lewis was a standout cornerback for Kansas City and the Raiders for 16 seasons, with two All-Pro selections and 42 career interceptions.
In the category of coaching, the committee will also consider former Chargers and Cardinals head coach Don Coryell, as well as three senior candidates: Super Bowl V MVP Chuck Howley, All-Pro defenders Joe Klecky and Ken Riley.