Pro Football Hall of Fame 2023 Finalists list leaves off two long-time Patriots
On Wednesday night, the Pro Football Hall of Fame released the list of the 15 finalists for the Class of 2023. That list, trimmed from 28 semifinalists, does not include two long-time Patriots who many view as deserving of induction.
The most notable absence is safety Rodney Harrison. Although he’s been eligible for almost a decade now, this was just Harrison’s second time as a semifinalist, and he’s never reached the finalist stage. That’s despite him being a three-time All-Pro, two-time Super Bowl champion, having the most sacks (30.5) by a defensive back in NFL history, and him being viewed as the best strong safety in the NFL for most of his career in New England.
Perhaps the most telling stat in regards to Harrison’s case though is his status in the NFL’s 30/30 Club. In 2007, Harrison became the first player in NFL history to reach both 30 career sacks and 30 career interceptions. Only Ray Lewis – a first ballot Hall of Famer – has since joined him, and nobody else is particularly close. No current active players have even reached the 20/20 mark.
CHARLOTTE, NC – SEPTEMBER 18: Rodney Harrison #37 of the New England Patriots helps make a call during their game against the Carolina Panthers on September 18, 2005 at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
The other notable absence from the Patriots on this year’s Finalists list is defensive tackle Vince Wilfork. This was Wilfork’s second year of eligibility, and just like last year he reached only as far as the semifinalist round.
Wilfork’s production and performance wasn’t statistically driven which hurts him in the selection process, as it did with Richard Seymour before his eventual induction last year. Still, Wilfork put together a Hall of Fame worthy career anchoring some of the best Patriots defenses of the Bill Belichick era.
Not only was Wilfork a key player against the run, but could rush the passer and was a three-down player at 6-foot-2, 325 pounds (listed). He was also incredibly reliable, playing at least 13 games every year but one of his career, and playing a full 16 games in nine of his 13 seasons.
FOXBORO, MA – SEPTEMBER 22: Vince Wilfork #75 of the New England Patriots signals to the defense during the second half of their 23-3 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Gillette Stadium on September 22, 2013 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Winslow Townson/Getty Images)
There are three short-term (two very short term) former Patriots who are up as finalists this year. Cornerback Darrelle Revis is in his first year of eligibility, and seems to be a lock to get in.
A four-time All-Pro and member of the NFL 2010s All-Decade Team, Revis was one of if not the best man coverage cornerback in football for the majority of his career. The whole concept of shutdown corners referring to their game as their name plus the word ‘island’ began with Revis Island.
Revis’ lone season with the Patriots in 2014 is considered by many not only to be his best, but one of the single most dominant put together by a cornerback in the history of the game. Facing the other team’s top receiver for the majority of the season, he allowed just 41 catches on 79 for 582 yards with three interceptions. The Patriots would go on to win the Super Bowl that year.
FOXBORO, MA – OCTOBER 26: Darrelle Revis #24 of the New England Patriots reacts during the third quarter against the Chicago Bears at Gillette Stadium on October 26, 2014 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
The other former Patriots on the list is wide receiver Torry Holt and Reggie Wayne. Holt was one of the league’s best receivers in the early 2000s, as a member of the Greatest Show on Turf Rams teams. After a year in Jacksonville in 2009, he joined the Patriots for training camp in 2010 but an injury kept him from making the team. This is his fourth time as a finalist.
Like Holt, Wayne was with the Patriots for just a brief training camp stint in 2015 before retiring. Wayne spent 13 seasons with the Indianapolis Colts as one of Peyton Manning’s top targets. This is also his fourth time as a finalist.
Prior to this year’s Super Bowl, the Selection Committee will meet to choose this year’s class from the group of Finalists. The Class of 2023 will then be announced the week before the Super Bowl on Feb. 9 at NFL Honors, and then inducted in August at the beginning of the preseason.
Alex Barth is a writer and digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Looking for a podcast guest? Let him know on Twitter @RealAlexBarthor via email at abarth@985TheSportsHub.com.