Safety Troy Polamalu was named Monday as one of three first-year eligible players among the 25 semifinalists of modern-era players for the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2020. Polamalu, however, wasn’t the only former Pittsburgh Steelers player on that list of 25 modern-era semifinalists as guard Alan Faneca and wide receiver Hines Ward were also chosen once again this year.
Polamalu was selected by the Steelers in the first round of the 2003 NFL Draft, the 16th pick overall, out of USC. He went on to play 12 seasons in Pittsburgh and his career ended with him being a two-time Super Bowl champion, a four-time first team All-Pro selection, a two-time second team All-Pro selection, the NFL Defensive Player of the Year (2010), an eight-time Pro Bowl selection and a member of the NFL 2000s All-Decade Team and Steelers All-Time Team.
In his 12 seasons with the Steelers, Polamalu recorded 32 total regular season interceptions in addition to three more in the playoffs. He registered 14 forced fumbles and recovered seven total fumbles. Five of those regular season takeaways that Polamalu registered during his career in Pittsburgh he returned for touchdowns and he also returned one for a score in a playoff game. He is credited with making 778 total regular season tackles during his career and 12 total sacks.
It will be a sin should Polamalu ultimately not be a first-ballot Hall of Fame selection this year. It’s hard to envision him not making the final cut even though just five modern-era players will make the 2020 expanded size class.
Faneca and Ward both being selected as semifinalists one again this year isn’t a bit surprising. Faneca has been a finalist the last four years while Ward has been a semifinalist the last three years. After failing to make the final cut last year, this should be the year that Faneca is finally given a gold jacket. Ward, on the other hand, should probably still be considered a longshot once again this year to make the final cut.
CLASS OF 2020 MODERN-ERA PLAYER SEMIFINALISTS
The following is the list of 2020 Modern-Era Player Semifinalists, including their positions, years and teams. Also listed are the number of times and years the candidate has been named a semifinalist since this reduction vote was added to the Selection Committee Bylaws in 2004.
- Steve Atwater, S – 1989-1998 Denver Broncos, 1999 New York Jets | (Times as a Semifinalist: 9 – 2012-2020)
- Carl Banks, LB – 1984-1992 New York Giants, 1993 Washington Redskins, 1994-95 Cleveland Browns | (Times as a Semifinalist: 1 – 2020)
- Ronde Barber, CB/S – 1997-2012 Tampa Bay Buccaneers | (Times as a Semifinalist: 3 – 2018-2020)
- Tony Boselli, T – 1995-2001 Jacksonville Jaguars, 2002 Houston Texans (injured reserve) | (Times as a Semifinalist: 5 – 2016-2020)
- Isaac Bruce, WR – 1994-2007 Los Angeles/St. Louis Rams, 2008-09 San Francisco 49ers | (Times as a Semifinalist: 6 – 2015-2020)
- LeRoy Butler, S – 1990-2001 Green Bay Packers | (Times as a Semifinalist: 3 – 2018-2020)
- Alan Faneca, G – 1998-2007 Pittsburgh Steelers, 2008-09 New York Jets, 2010 Arizona Cardinals | (Times as a Semifinalist: 5 – 2016-2020)
- Torry Holt, WR – 1999-2008 St. Louis Rams, 2009 Jacksonville Jaguars | (Times as a Semifinalist: 6 – 2015-2020)
- Steve Hutchinson, G – 2001-05 Seattle Seahawks, 2006-2011 Minnesota Vikings, 2012 Tennessee Titans | (Times as a Semifinalist: 3 – 2018-2020)
- Edgerrin James, RB – 1999-2005 Indianapolis Colts, 2006-08 Arizona Cardinals, 2009 Seattle Seahawks | (Times as a Semifinalist: 6 – 2015-2020)
- John Lynch, FS – 1993-2003 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 2004-07 Denver Broncos | (Times as a Semifinalist: 8 – 2013-2020)
- Clay Matthews, LB – 1978-1993 Cleveland Browns, 1994-96 Atlanta Falcons | (Times as a Semifinalist: 4 – 2012, 2017, 2019-2020)
- Sam Mills, LB – 1986-1994 New Orleans Saints, 1995-97 Carolina Panthers | (Times as a Semifinalist: 3 – 2016, 2019-2020)
- Troy Polamalu, S – 2003-2014 Pittsburgh Steelers (Times as a Semifinalist: 1 – 2020)
- Simeon Rice, DE – 1996-2000 Arizona Cardinals, 2001-06 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 2007 Denver Broncos, 2007 Indianapolis Colts | (Times as a Semifinalist: 2 – 2018, 2020)
- Richard Seymour, DE/DT – 2001-08 New England Patriots, 2009-2012 Oakland Raiders | (Times as a Semifinalist: 3 – 2018-2020)
- Steve Tasker, ST/WR – 1985-86 Houston Oilers, 1986-1997 Buffalo Bills | (Times as a Semifinalist: 7 – 2004, 2008-2010, 2012-13, 2020)
- Fred Taylor, RB – 1998-2008 Jacksonville Jaguars, 2009-2010 New England Patriots | (Times as a Semifinalist: 1 – 2020)
- Zach Thomas, LB – 1996-2007 Miami Dolphins, 2008 Dallas Cowboys | (Times as a Semifinalist: 2 – 2019-2020)
- Hines Ward, WR – 1998-2011 Pittsburgh Steelers | (Times as a Semifinalist: 4 – 2017-2020)
- Ricky Watters, RB – 1992-94 San Francisco 49ers, 1995-97 Philadelphia Eagles, 1998-2001 Seattle Seahawks | (Times as a Semifinalist: 1 – 2020)
- Reggie Wayne, WR – 2001-2014 Indianapolis Colts | (Times as a Semifinalist: 1 – 2020)
- Patrick Willis, LB – 2007-2014 San Francisco 49ers | (Times as a Semifinalist: 1 – 2020)
- Darren Woodson, S – 1992-2003 Dallas Cowboys | (Times as a Semifinalist: 4 – 2015, 2017, 2019-2020)
- Bryant Young, DT – 1994-2007 San Francisco 49ers | (Times as a Semifinalist: 1 – 2020)
NEXT STEPS IN SELECTION PROCESS
The Hall of Fame Board recently passed a resolution that suspended the Hall of Fame’s Selection Committee Bylaws for the Class of 2020 election cycle only. The measure is intended to honor the NFL’s Centennial Celebration through a special Centennial Class that will be comprised of 20 members in 2020. The group will include five Modern-Era players to come from the list announced today in addition to 10 Seniors (a player who has been retired for more than 25 seasons), three Contributors (an individual other than a player or coach) and two Coaches.
The Modern-Era players list will be reduced to 15 Finalists that will be announced on Jan. 2, 2020. The finalists will then be presented to the full 48-member Pro Football Hall of Fame Selection Committee during its annual meeting on “Selection Saturday,” on Feb. 1, 2020, the day before Super Bowl LIV. The Selection Committee will elect five Modern-Era players for the Class of 2020.
The determination of the Seniors, Contributors and Coaches will be made by a special 25-person Centennial “Blue-Ribbon” Panel who will review the backlog of deserving Seniors, Coaches and Contributors. The Blue-Ribbon Panel is comprised of Hall of Fame Selectors, Pro Football Hall of Famers, media members, football historians and industry experts.
The Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2020 will be introduced during NFL Honors, a two-hour primetime awards special to air nationally on the eve of Super Bowl LIV at 9 p.m. (ET and PT) on FOX. NFL Honors will be taped earlier that evening at the Adrienne Arsht Center in Miami when the Hall of Fame’s Centennial Class of 2020 will be brought together for the first time. In addition, the NFL and The Associated Press will announce their annual accolades in this awards show with the winners on hand to accept their awards.
The Centennial Class of 2020 will be formally enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame during the annual Enshrinement Week Powered by Johnson Controls from Aug. 6-9, 2020 and the Centennial Celebration in Canton on Sept. 16-19, 2020.