Two former Pittsburgh Steelers are among the annual named Modern Era semifinalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, it was announced on Tuesday. Those two former players are none other than wide receiver Hines Ward and outside linebacker James Harrison.
This makes a seventh consecutive year that Ward has been named a semifinalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Ward, who was originally selected in the third round of the 1998 NFL Draft out of Georgia, played 14 seasons for the Steelers. He played on two Super Bowl-winning teams and was the MVP of Super Bowl XL.
For his career, Ward registered 1,000 career receptions for 12,083 yards and 85 touchdowns. He was also a premier blocking wide receiver during his long NFL career. Ward has since been voted a member of the Steelers’ Hall of Honor.
Ward is one of seven former NFL wide receivers that were named Modern Era semifinalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Tuesday. The other six named; Anquan Boldin, Henry Ellard, Torry Holt, Andre Johnson, Steve Smith Sr., and Reggie Wayne. Of those six, only Ellard is not a wide receiver carryover from the 2021 Modern Era semifinalists list.
As for Harrison, who entered the NFL in 2002 as an undrafted free agent out of Kent State, he played 14 seasons with the team and currently holds the Steelers’ team record with 80.5 career sacks. He ended his NFL career with 811 regular season total tackles, 84.5 sacks, 34 forced fumbles, nine fumble recoveries, eight interceptions and one defensive touchdown. His career included time spent with two other teams, the Cincinnati Bengals, and the New England Patriots.
Harrison was named the 2008 Associated Press NFL Defensive Player of the Year after finishing that season with 16 sacks, a team record at the time. He was voted First-Team Associated Press All-Pro twice during his career and was named a Pro Bowl selection five consecutive years (2007-11) Harrison was also twice voted the Steelers’ team MVP (2007-08).
Harrison’s 100-yard interception return for a touchdown against the Arizona Cardinals in Super Bowl XLIII remains a top NFL play of all-time. He retired a two-time Super Bowl Champion and played in four Super Bowls in total.
The list of 2023 Semifinalists announced on Tuesday was reduced from an initial group of 129 nominees announced in September. It marks the largest number of Semifinalists since the Hall of Fame adopted the process of reducing the list of nominees to 25 (plus ties) in 2004.
The Modern Era semifinalists will next be trimmed to 15 Modern Era finalists. The Hall of Fame’s 49-person Selection Committee will select the Class of 2023 in advance of Super Bowl LVII in Glendale, Arizona. The Class of 2023 will be announced live on the “NFL Honors” telecast scheduled to air at 9 p.m. ET Feb. 9.