A group of nine former NFL stars, including five former Super Bowl champions, were announced by the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Tuesday as first-time nominees chosen among the initial list of candidates for the Class of 2023.
Included among an overall list of 129 former players who still have a chance to be inducted at the Hall of Fame enshrinement next August are:
Running back Chris Johnson, offensive linemen Jahri Evans and Joe Thomas, defensive lineman Dwight Freeney, linebackers NaVorro Bowman and James Harrison, defensive backs Kam Chancellor and Darrelle Revis, and punter Shane Lechler.
The full list of nominees includes 67 offensive players, 50 defensive players and 12 players who were mainly special teamers.
The next benchmark in the selection process will be in November when the group is whittled down to 25 semifinalists, with 15 finalists revealed in January. The inductees will be selected in early February, in advance of Super Bowl LVII.
The 49-member Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee will also hear cases presented to them during its annual meeting with 15 modern-era candidates and recently named seniors finalists Joe Klecko, Chuck Howley, Ken Riley and Don Coryell.
This year's first-time candidates include Johnson, who rushed for 9,651 career yards with the Tennessee Titans, New York Jets and Arizona Cardinals. He rushed for over 1,000 yards in each of his first six seasons from 2008-13, including an NFL-high 2,006 in 2009.
Also up for debate by the committee will be the iron man Thomas, who made Pro Bowls in each of his first 10 seasons from 2007-16 while spending his 11 years with the Cleveland Browns. He did not miss a snap, let alone a start, in any of his first 167 career games until suffering a torn triceps that ended his final campaign in 2017.
Longtime shutdown cornerback Darrelle Revis played 11 seasons with four different teams (New York Jets, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs) from 2007-17 like Thomas. While his career total of 29 interceptions was not eye-popping, the man policed his coverage area known as "Revis Island" where opposing quarterbacks often tried to avoid.
During next February's committee meeting, the final candidates to receive 80 percent of the votes from the panel will earn induction.
--Field Level Media