Seven first-year eligible players, including Andre Johnson and DeMarcus Ware, were among the 26 modern era semifinalists named for the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2022.
The semifinalists, 26 in all because of a tie in the voting, will be trimmed to 15 finalists next month. The Class of ’22, which can include up to five modern-era players, will be formally announced on Feb. 10 during NFL Honors.
Johnson, a seven-time Pro Bowl selection, and Ware, a nine-time Pro Bowl selection, each played their last game in 2016 and were in their first year of eligibility. Also among this year’s semifinalists and in their first year of eligibility were Anquan Boldin, Devin Hester, Robert Mathis, Steve Smith and Vince Wilfork.
The other semifinalists are: Eric Allen, Jared Allen, Willie Anderson, Ronde Barber, Tony Boselli, LeRoy Butler, Eddie George, Torry Holt, Sam Mills, Richard Seymour, Steve Tasker, Fred Taylor, Zach Thomas, Hines Ward, Rickey Watters, Reggie Wayne, Patrick Willis, Darren Woodson and Bryant Young.
Jared Allen, Barber, Boselli, Butler, Holt, Mills, Seymour, Thomas and Wayne were all finalists last year. Boselli has been a finalist five times and Seymour has been a finalist three times.
Young was a finalist in 2020.
Among this year’s semifinalists, Hester and Tasker are largely being considered because of their special teams play, but they are among eight players on the list who played wide receiver.
Smith is currently eighth all-time in receiving yards, Wayne is 10th, Johnson is 11th, Boldin 14th, Holt 16th and Ward is 27th.
Ware, who finished his career with three years with the Denver Broncos after with the Dallas Cowboys, is 13th all time in sacks at 138.5. Jared Allen, who is a semifinalist for the second time, is 16th all-time at 136 sacks.
Dick Vermeil, selected by the seniors committee, is already a finalist as a coach, Cliff Branch is the seniors finalist and Art McNally is a finalist as a contributor. All three were chosen earlier this year.
Inductions at the Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, will be in early August.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.