Few things in the galaxy of sports awards are as difficult to reach as Hall of Fame enshrinement.
Every year, a long list of names is narrowed -- first to 25 semifinalists then to 15 modern-era finalists, who each carry a resume worthy of a gold jacket.
That list of 15 is then trimmed to five in a meeting of the Board of Selectors the day before the Super Bowl. Those five then go through a yes/no vote for enshrinement.
At most, five will get in. Just five. And then the storm of criticism unfolds about who did and didn’t make it.
As the Class of 2018 is set to enjoy their enshrinement in Canton, Ohio, we now take a look at what the Class of 2019 could look like. This is what the list of finalists could look like.
Three things to consider if you’re trying to predict (remember players in the seniors pool or contributors are not considered “modern-era” candidates):
Any high-quality players who are eligible for the first time. The current group of selectors has shown an affinity for these players and have often moved quickly to the list of 15 finalists -- there were four among the 15 finalists last year and three (Randy Moss, Brian Urlacher and Ray Lewis) are among the 2018 class.
Those who were among the 15 finalists in the previous two years before the current class. Of the players who were not selected for enshrinement in 2018 and were among the 15 finalists last year as well. Safety John Lynch leads the way having been a finalist five times.
The Hall leans offense, perhaps because there are easier ways to measure greatness across eras, but it’s slightly less than a 60-40 split offense to defense at the moment. Modern-era selections in 2018, however, went 3-2 defense and many of the top candidates are on defense.
15 potential semifinalists
First ballot candidates (click cards to show resume)
Other potential finalists
Others to consider who were semifinalists in 2018: Simeon Rice, Leslie O’Neal, Don Coryell, Roger Craig, Torry Holt, Jimmy Johnson, Richard Seymour, Hines Ward.
Others to consider who were semifinalists in 2017: Chris Hinton, Mike Kenn, Darren Woodson.
Jeff Legwold is a Pro Football Hall of Fame voter.