Former Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson is one of nine first-time eligible players among the 129 modern-era nominees for the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s 2023 class, which was revealed Tuesday.
Johnson, a first-round pick of the Titans in 2008 (24th overall), played his final game in 2017 as a member of the Arizona Cardinals. He is one of six prominent former Titans who will be considered for induction this year.
He currently ranks 35th on the NFL’s all-time rushing list with 9,651 yards. Of those, 7,965 came in his six seasons with Tennessee. He is one of eight players in history to rush for more than 2,000 yards in a season with his 2,006 yards in 2009 the seventh-highest total.
Also in 2009, Johnson set an NFL record with 2,509 yards from scrimmage. That record has not been broken.
Only five players had more rushing yards in their first five NFL seasons that Johnson, who rolled up 6,888 from 2008-12. During his time in Tennessee, he had six touchdown runs of 80 yards or more, which were the most in NFL history, and he became one of seven players to reach 4,000 rushing yards within his first 40 games.
Fifteen players from this year’s list of nominees will be presented to the selection committee for debate in the days prior to the Super Bowl. During that meeting, the list will be culled to 10 players and then to five. The final five must receive at least 80 percent “yes” votes from the 49-member panel for induction.
Here are the former Titans/Oilers players other than Johnson included among this year’s nominees.
• Eddie George, RB: A first-round pick in 1995, he rushed for 10,441 career yards, which ranks 28th in NFL history and includes a franchise-record 10,009 with the Oilers/Titans. He ran for better than 1,200 yards in each of his first five seasons and topped 1,000 yards rushing in seven of his first eight. He started all 128 games he played for the Titans and 136 of 141 in his career. He was the 1996 AP Offensive Rookie of the Year and a four-time Pro Bowler. He was a semifinalist for the Class of 2022.
• Steve McNair, QB: The NFL’s 2003 co-MVP, he was 91-62 as a starter with Tennessee and Baltimore and led the Titans to their only Super Bowl appearance (Super Bowl XXXIV), where he set a record for rushing yards by a quarterback (64 on eight carries). He was a three-time Pro Bowler and his 3,590 career rushing yards rank sixth among all quarterbacks since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger.
• Derrick Mason, WR: He set a then-NFL record with 2,690 all-purpose yards in 2000. A fourth-round pick in 1997, his 414 receptions from 1999-04 are the franchise-high during the Titans era (1999-present) and his 471 receptions with the Baltimore Ravens (2005-10) are a franchise record. He topped 1,000 yards receiving in each of his final four years with Tennessee (2001-04), was a two-time Pro Bowler (2000, 2003) and a first-team All-Pro return man in 2000.
• Lorenzo Neal, FB: He played for seven teams in a 16-year NFL career. In his two years with Tennessee, the Titans went 26-6 and made the playoffs both times. From 1994 to 2006 he did not miss a game. He was a two-time All-Pro (2006-07), a four-time Pro Bowler and a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Team of the 2000s.
• Gary Anderson, K: He is the NFL’s third-leading all-time scorer with 2,434 points, the last 211 of which came in two seasons with the Titans (2003-04). His career spanned 25 seasons with five organizations and he topped 100 points 14 times.
Also on the list are wide receiver Andre Johnson, whose 14-year career ended with eight games with the Titans in 2008, and quarterback Dave Kreig, who played 19 seasons, the final two as McNair’s backup for the then-Tennessee Oilers (1997-98).