Former Pittsburgh Steelers safety Troy Polamalu and former Indianapolis Colts receiver Reggie Wayne were named finalists Thursday for the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2020 in their first year of eligibility. Five other former NFL greats made their first appearance as finalists.
Safety LeRoy Butler (Packers 1990-2001), receiver Torry Holt (Rams 1999-2008; Jaguars 2009), linebacker Sam Mills (Saints 1986-1994; Panthers 1995-97), linebacker Zach Thomas (Dolphins 1996-2007; Cowboys 2008) and defensive tackle Bryant Young (49ers 1994-2007) were also named finalists for the first time, though all five previously have been eligible.
The other finalists for the Class of 2020:
Steve Atwater (Broncos 1989-1998; Jets 1999)
Tony Boselli (Jaguars 1995-2001)
Isaac Bruce (Rams 1994-2007; 49ers 2008-09)
Alan Faneca (Steelers 1998-2007, Jets 2008-09; Cardinals 2010)
Steve Hutchinson (Seahawks 2001-05; Vikings 2006-11; Titans 2012)
Edgerrin James (Colts 1999-2005; Cardinals 2006-08; Seahawks 2009)
John Lynch (Buccaneers 1993-2003; Broncos 2004-07)
Richard Seymour (Patriots 2001-08; Raiders 2009-12)
As many as five of the finalists will be chosen Feb. 1 — the day before Super Bowl LIV — for the Hall’s Class of 2020 by the board of selectors. The Class of 2020 will be formally introduced during the NFL Honors show that evening.
It is Lynch’s seventh time as a finalist, Faneca’s fifth time as well as the fourth time for Boselli, Bruce and James. Atwater and Hutchinson have each been a finalist three times.
Mills, who also played three seasons in the USFL before a 12-year NFL career with New Orleans and Carolina, is in his 18th year of eligibility and this year is the first time he has been named a Hall of Fame finalist. Mills and Atwater, in their 18th and 16th years of eligibility respectively, have waited the longest for potential enshrinement among this year’s finalists.
First-time eligible finalists have been the headliners of the previous two Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremonies. Ray Lewis, Randy Moss and Brian Urlacher were first-time eligible finalists when they were then chosen for the Class of 2018, while Champ Bailey and Ed Reed were first-time finalists when they were chosen for the Class of 2019.
Polamalu and Wayne are this year’s finalists in their first year of eligibility. Polamalu played 12 seasons with the Steelers and was named to eight Pro Bowls; Wayne was named to six Pro Bowls.
Wayne and James were teammates with the Colts for five seasons.
The Hall of Fame’s Class of 2020 will include just the five modern-era finalists who are voted for enshrinement since this year the contributor and seniors enshrinees will be part of the Hall of Fame’s Centennial Class that will include 10 seniors, three contributors and two coaches.
The modern-era Class of 2020 will be enshrined Aug. 8 in Canton, Ohio, while the Centennial Class will be enshrined Sept. 16 during the celebration of the NFL’s 100th year.