Pro Football Hall of Fame 2021: NFL Inductees, Class Finalists and Predictions

Jake RillFeatured Columnist IFebruary 6, 2021

Pro Football Hall of Fame 2021: NFL Inductees, Class Finalists and Predictions

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    Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press

    There have been 326 people to be elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. On Saturday, that group will officially become bigger.

    The Hall of Fame's Class of 2021 will be announced during NFL Honors, which is set to air Saturday night at 9 p.m. ET on CBS. There are 15 modern-era finalists who were voted on by the selection committee, along with several other finalists up for consideration, and between four and eight of those people will make it in this year.

    That group includes four modern-era finalists who were on the ballot for the first time: defensive end Jared Allen, wide receiver Calvin Johnson, quarterback Peyton Manning and defensive back Charles Woodson. It's a strong group, and it wouldn't be surprising to see several of these players make it in on their first try.

    There are also some other strong former players up for consideration who could make it into the Hall of Fame in 2021, despite missing out in their earlier years on the ballot.

    Here's a look at the finalists for the Class of 2021, followed by predictions for who will make it in.

2021 Hall of Fame Finalists

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    Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

    Modern-Era Finalists

    Jared Allen, DE, Kansas City Chiefs (2004-07), Minnesota Vikings (2008-13), Chicago Bears (2014-15), Carolina Panthers (2015)

    Ronde Barber, DB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1997-2012)

    Tony Boselli, OT, Jacksonville Jaguars (1995-2001), Houston Texans (2002)

    LeRoy Butler, S, Green Bay Packers (1990-2001)

    Alan Faneca, OG, Pittsburgh Steelers (1998-2007), New York Jets (2008-09), Arizona Cardinals (2010)

    Torry Holt, WR, St. Louis Rams (1999-2008), Jacksonville Jaguars (2009)

    Calvin Johnson, WR, Detroit Lions (2007-15)

    John Lynch, S, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1993-2003), Denver Broncos (2004-07)

    Peyton Manning, QB, Indianapolis Colts (1998-2011), Denver Broncos (2012-15)

    Clay Matthews, LB, Cleveland Browns (1978-93), Atlanta Falcons (1994-96)

    Sam Mills, LB, New Orleans Saints (1986-94), Carolina Panthers (1995-97)

    Richard Seymour, DL, New England Patriots (2001-08), Oakland Raiders (2009-12)

    Zach Thomas, LB, Miami Dolphins (1996-2007), Dallas Cowboys (2008)

    Reggie Wayne, WR, Indianapolis Colts (2001-14)

    Charles Woodson, DB, Oakland Raiders (1998-2005, 2013-15), Green Bay Packers (2006-12)


    Senior Finalist

    Drew Pearson, WR, Dallas Cowboys (1973-83)


    Contributor Finalist

    Bill Nunn, assistant personnel director/scout, Pittsburgh Steelers (1970-2014)


    Coach Finalist

    Tom Flores, head coach, Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders (1979-87), Seattle Seahawks (1992-94)

Manning Will Lead Trio of First-Ballot Hall of Famers

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    Jack Dempsey/Associated Press

    When looking at the list of modern-era finalists this year, one name stands out: Peyton Manning.

    There's no doubt that Manning is going to be headlining the Hall of Fame's Class of 2021. According to Mike Florio of NBC Sports, the five-time MVP quarterback already found out that he's going to be enshrined later this year, so it appears Manning will be going in.

    But Manning won't be the only former player going into the Hall of Fame on his first try this year. Woodson and Johnson are both worthy of enshrinement, and it seems likely that the selection committee will put both in as members of the Class of 2021.

    Woodson was one of the best defensive backs in the NFL for much of his 18-year career. Many will remember him for his 11 seasons with the Raiders (over two stints), but he also was an impact player for the Packers, winning the Defensive Player of the Year Award in 2009, then helping them win a Super Bowl championship the following season.

    Johnson's career wasn't as long, as he played nine seasons—all for the Lions. But he impressed every year, leading the NFL in receiving in back-to-back seasons in 2011 and 2012 and totaling more than 1,000 yards in each of his final six years. "Megatron" was a dominant, 6'5" receiver who became one of the league's top stars.

    These decisions weren't as easy as the one to include Manning. But the selection committee will likely include both Woodson and Johnson in the Class of 2021, making for an impressive trio of first-ballot Hall of Famers this year.

Faneca Will Make It in Sixth Time as Hall of Fame Finalist

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    MICHAEL CONROY/Associated Press

    Perhaps it's because offensive linemen can be underrated, but Faneca should likely already be in the Hall of Fame. This is his sixth time as a finalist, and it's a bit surprising he hasn't already been enshrined.

    But this should be the year that the 13-year NFL veteran gets into the Hall of Fame. (If somehow he doesn't, it will again be a snub.)

    Faneca was the model of consistency throughout his career, most of which was spent with the Steelers. He only missed two games during his 10 seasons in Pittsburgh, and he started every game during his final six years with the team.

    In 2009, Faneca started all 16 games for the Jets. Then, he started all 16 games for the Cardinals in 2010.

    Over his career, Faneca was a six-time All-Pro selection and a nine-time Pro Bowler. He won Super Bowl XL for the Steelers, helping to block for the running-back duo of Willie Parker and Jerome Bettis that season. Faneca also helped protect quarterback Ben Roethlisberger for much of his career.

    It's time for Faneca to be enshrined in Canton, and this will be the year that it happens.

Third Time Will Be the Charm for Seymour

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    Julie Jacobson/Associated Press

    For the third straight year, Seymour is a Hall of Fame finalist. And this will be the time that ends differently.

    Seymour was a strong player over his 12-year NFL career, and he was instrumental in helping the Patriots begin their dynasty in the early 2000s. He was a three-time All-Pro selection, receiving the honor every year from 2003-05. He helped them win the Super Bowl as a rookie in 2001, then won back-to-back Lombardi Trophies in the 2003 and 2004 seasons.

    Over his eight years in New England, Seymour had 39 sacks, three forced fumbles, six fumble recoveries and a pair of interceptions in 111 games. He went on to play four seasons with the Raiders, recording 18.5 sacks, a forced fumble and two fumble recoveries in 53 games.

    Seymour was a consistently dominant force on the defensive front throughout his career, helping him make it to seven Pro Bowls. Now, it's time for him to be enshrined in the Hall of Fame.

    While his former teammate Tom Brady could end up winning another Super Bowl title on Sunday, it will also be a big weekend for Seymour, who will end up being part of the Hall of Fame's Class of 2021 when it's announced Saturday night.


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