Manning, Woodson head preliminary list for Hall-of-Fame's Class of 2021
Quarterback Peyton Manning and defensive back Charles Woodson are among 130 preliminary candidates named Wednesday by the Pro Football Hall of Fame for its modern-era Class of 2021.
Of course, Manning and Woodson are more than nominees for election. Both are expected to be first-ballot choices.
Manning is a certainty. The former Indianapolis and Denver star set a litany of NFL records, including most touchdown passes in one season (55). He was a five-time league MVP, 14-time Pro Bowler, 10-time All-Pro, two-time Offensive Player of the Year, member of the NFL's 100th anniversary and 2000s’ all-decade teams and, oh, by the way, a two-time Super Bowl champion.
But Woodson isn’t far behind. A former Defensive Player of the Year (2009) and Defensive Rookie of the Year (1998), the former Green Bay and Raiders’ standout was a nine-time Pro Bowler, eight-time All-Pro and Super Bowl winner. Like Manning, he, was chosen to the 2000s’ all-decade team. He is also a virtual lock for election next year.
Manning and Woodson are among 14 preliminary candidates in their first years of eligibility and while they’re the most notable, they may not be alone as first-ballot inductees.
Detroit wide receiver Calvin Johnson is in first year, too. So is pass rusher Jared Allen. And offensive lineman Logan Mankins. Each could join Manning and Woodson in Canton on the first try, with Johnson the most likely. However, with returning finalists like John Lynch, Tony Boselli and Alan Faneca in line for years, the smart money is on Megatron waiting at least a year.
Included in the Class of 2021 preliminary list are 65 offensive players, 49 on defense and 16 with special teams.
Twenty-five semifinalists will be announced in November, with that number pared to 15 finalists in early January. From that group, five modern-era inductees will be chosen on Saturday, Feb. 6, 2021, the day prior to Super Bowl LV.
No more than eight persons will comprise the Class of 2021, with Tom Flores (coach), Drew Pearson (senior) and Bill Nunn (contributor) already chosen as finalists. The Hall’s 48-member board of selectors will also vote on them on Feb. 6.
Now, on to the preliminary list of candidates, with first-year eligibles in italics and returning finalists in bold face:
QB (8) – Drew Bledsoe, Randall Cunningham, Jake Delhomme, Jeff Garcia, Dave Krieg, Peyton Manning, Donovan McNabb, Steve McNair.
RB (17) – Shaun Alexander, Mike Alstott, Tiki Barber, Earnest Byner, Larry Centers, Corey Dillon, Warrick Dunn, Eddie George, Priest Holmes, Stephen Jackson, Jamal Lewis, Eric Metcalf, Glyn Milburn, Lorenzo Neal, Fred Taylor, Herschel Walker, Ricky Watters.
TE (7) – Dallas Clark, Ben Coates, Keith Jackson, Brent Jones, Heath Miller, Jeremy Shockey, Wesley Walls.
WR (13) – Donald Drive, Henry Ellard, Torry Holt, Calvin Johnson, Chad Johnson, Derrick Mason, Muhsin Muhammad, Jimmy Smith, Rod Smith, Hines Ward, Reggie Wayne, Wes Welker, Roddy White.
OL (20) – Willie Anderson, Matt Birk, Tony Boselli, Lomas Brown, Ruben Brown, Alan Faneca, D’Brickashaw Ferguson, Kevin Glover, Jordan Gross, Kent Hull, Olin Kreutz, Logan Mankins, Tom Nalen, Chris Samuels, Jeff Saturday, Chris Snee, Brian Waters, Richmond Webb, Erik Williams, Steve Wisniewski.
DL (15) – John Abraham, Jared Allen, Ray Childress, La’Roi Glover, Casey Hampton, Leslie O’Neal, Michael Dean Perry, Simeon Rice, Richard Seymour, Justin Smith, Neil Smith, Greg Townsend, Justin Tuck, Kevin Williams, Bryant Young.
LB (16) – Cornelius Bennett, Lance Briggs, Tedy Bruschi, London Fletcher, Seth Joyner, Clay Matthews, Jared Mayo, Willie McGinest, Sam Mills, Joey Porter, Chris Spielman, Takeo Spikes, Pat Swilling, Darryl Talley, Zach Thomas, Patrick Willis.
DB (18) – Eric Allen, Ronde Barber, LeRoy Butler, Nick Collins, Merton Hanks, Rodney Harrison, James Hasty, Albert Lewis, John Lynch, Tim McDonald, Allen Rossum, Asante Samuel, Bob Sanders, Charles Tillman, Troy Vincent, Adrian Wilson, Charles Woodson, Darren Woodson.
PUNTERS/KICKERS (12) – David Akers, Gary Anderson, Jason Elam, Jeff Feagles, Jason Hanson, John Kasay, Sean Landeta, Ryan Longwell, Nick Lowery, Reggie Roby, Rohn Stark, Matt Turk.
SPECIAL TEAMS (4) – Josh Cribbs, Mel Gray, Brian Mitchell, Steve Tasker.