Who Are the 15 Modern-Era Players That Advanced to the Final Round?

On January 4, the Pro Football Hall of Fame announced its 15 Modern-Era Player Finalists for the Class of 2023. These former NFL players will advance to the final round of voting, which traditionally takes place in the weeks leading up to the Super Bowl. The 2023 Class will be officially announced at the NFL Honors Awards Ceremony, which will be broadcast at 9 p.m. ET on February 9.

Jared Allen, DE

Jared Allen, drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs in the fourth round of the 2004 NFL Draft, played in the NFL for 12 seasons. After four years with the Chiefs, Allen was traded to the Minnesota Vikings, where he spent six years before signing with the Chicago Bears as a free agent in 2014. He was then traded to the Carolina Panthers in 2015.

Allen, who recorded 136 sacks in his career, was a five-time Pro Bowler and four-time All-Pro selection. He was named the NFL sacks leader in 2007 and 2011.

Willie Anderson, OT

Willie Anderson played in the NFL for the Cincinnati Bengals from 1996-2007 and the Baltimore Ravens in 2008. Drafted by the Bengals 10th overall in the 1996 NFL Draft, Anderson had quite a career, being named three times as a First-team All-Pro, once as a Second-team All-Pro, and four times to the Pro Bowl.

Anderson only allowed 16 sacks in his 13-year career and did not give up a single sack between the 1999 and 2001 seasons. He played college football for Auburn University.

Ronde Barber, CB

Ronde Barber played in the NFL for 16 years and spent his entire career playing for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Barber, who can be easily confused with his twin brother Tiki (formerly of the New York Giants), was drafted in the third round of the 1997 NFL Draft.

Barber was selected to five Pro Bowls, earned three First-team All-Pro selections, two second-team All-Pro selections, and was selected to the National Football League 2000s All-Decade Team. He also led the NFL in interceptions in 2001 and is the Buccaneers’ all-time interceptions leader. Other accolades include being one of two members (Charles Woodson) of the 40+ interceptions, 20+ quarterback sacks club, also known as the 40/20 club. He is the only member of the 45/25 club.

Dwight Freeney, DE

Dwight Freeney, drafted by the Indianapolis Colts in the first round of the 2002 NFL Draft, played in the NFL for 16 seasons. Freeney spent time with the Colts until 2012, the Chargers from 2013-2014, the Cardinals in 2015, Falcons in 2016, Seahawks in 2017, and the Lions in 2017.

Freeney won the Super Bowl in the Colts’ victory over the Bears. He was a 3x First-Team All-Pro, a 1x Second-Team All-Pro, a 7x Pro Bowler, and the NFL sacks leader in 2004. Freeney was named to the 2000s All-Decade Team, and the NFL forced fumbles co-leader in 2002.

Freeney played college football at Syracuse University, where he earned unanimous All-American honors and was a 2x First-Team All-Big East selection.

Devin Hester, WR

Devin Hester, arguably one of the greatest return specialists in NFL history, was originally drafted by the Chicago Bears as a cornerback in the second round of the 2006 NFL Draft. He quickly made his mark on special teams and never looked back.

As a member of the Chicago Bears, Hester became the first (and only) player to return the opening kick of the Super Bowl back for a touchdown. After spending seven years with the Bears, Hester played for the  Falcons from 2014-2015, the Ravens in 2016, and the Seahawks in 2016.

Hester holds the NFL record for most all-time return touchdowns (punt and kickoff combined) and most all-time punt return touchdowns. He also has a host of other accolades, including a three-time First-Team All-Pro selection, a four-time Pro Bowler, the NFL kickoff return yards leader in 2013 and 2014, and a member of the NFL 200s and 2010s All-Decade Teams.

Torry Holt, WR

Torry Holt was named a Hall of Fame finalist for the fourth straight year. He played 10 seasons with the St. Louis Rams, catching 869 passes for 12,660 yards and 74 touchdowns. He made the Pro Bowl seven times and was a first-team All-Pro once in 2003

Holt’s 920 career receptions are 22nd all-time, and with 13,382 receiving yards, he sits 17th in the league’s record books. At the time he retired, he was 10th in league history. Holt was named to the Pro Bowl seven times.

Chuck Howley, LB

Chuck Howley, drafted out of the University of West Virginia by the Chicago Bears in the first round of the 1958 NFL Draft, played for the Bears for one season before spending the remainder of his career with the Cowboys from 1961-1973.

Howley, who holds the record for the second-most interceptions by a linebacker in a season with six, was part of the Super Bowl VI championship team and was named the Super Bowl V MVP despite being on the losing team. In fact, he is the only player in NFL history from the losing team to win the Super Bowl MVP Award.

He was a 5x First-Team All-Pro Selection, a 1x Second-Team All-Pro, and a 6x Pro Bowler. He was named to the Cowboys Ring of Honor in 1977.

Joe Klecko, DE

Joe Klecko, drafted out of Temple University by the New York Jets in the sixth round of the 1977 NFL Draft, played for the Jets from 1977 – 1987 and the Indianapolis Colts in 1988. Klecko is best known for his time as a member of the Jets’ infamous New York Sack Exchange group.

Klecko was named the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 1981, a 2x First-Team All-Pro selection, a 1x Second-Team All-Pro, and a 4x Pro Bowler. He was the NFL sacks leader in 1091 and won the George Halas Award in 1982. In 2004, Klecko became just the third New York jets to have his number retired. In 2010, he was inducted as a member of the inaugural class into the Jets’ Ring of Honor.

Albert Lewis, CB

Albert Lewis, drafted out of Grambling State University by the Kansas City Chiefs in the third round of the 1983 NFL Draft, played for the Chiefs from 1983-1993 and the Raiders from 1994-1998.

Throughout his 16-year career, he recorded 42 interceptions, 12.5 sacks, 13 forced fumbles, 13 fumble recoveries, and 2 touchdowns. In addition to all of that, he blocked 11 kicks in 11 seasons with the Chiefs. Lewis was a 2x First-Team All-Pro selection and a 4x Pro Bowler. He was also named to the Chiefs 25-Year All-Time Team in 1987 and was inducted into the Chiefs Hall of Fame in 2007.

Darrelle Revis, CB

Darrelle Revis, best known for his time with the New York Jets, played in the NFL for 11 seasons. A first-round draft selection out of Pittsburgh, Revis quickly earned a reputation as a shutdown cornerback, even earning the moniker Revis Island, where receivers would go and never be heard from again…at least, until after the game was over.

Revis, who played for the Jets from 2007-2012, Buccaneers in 2013, Patriots in 2014, and the Jets again from 2015-2016, is considered one of the greatest cornerbacks of all time.

Joe Thomas, OT

Not only did Joe Thomas play in the NFL for 11 seasons with the Cleveland Browns, but he also logged 10,363 consecutive snaps, the longest streak since snap counts were first recorded in 1999.

A dominant offensive tackle, Thomas played college football at Wisconsin, earned unanimous All-American honors, and was recognized as the top college interior lineman. He announced his retirement from the NFL in 2018, ending a career that saw him voted to ten Pro Bowls, six first-team All-Pro selections, and two second-team All-Pro selections.

Zach Thomas, LB

Named a Pro Football Hall of Fame Finalist for the fourth straight year, Zach Thomas will look to cement his name in Canton this year. Drafted in the fifth round of the 1996 NFL Draft, Thomas played with the Miami Dolphins from 1996-2007, the Dallas Cowboys in 2008, and spent time with the Kansas City Chiefs in the offseason in 2009 before retiring.

Thomas played college football for Texas Tech University and was recognized as a unanimous All-American. He was named to the Pro Bowl seven times and was a five-time First-team All-Pro selection. His other accolades included being named twice to the Second-team All-Pro and was named the NFL Alumni Linebacker of the Year twice. Thomas was the NFL tackles leader in 2002 and 2006 and was named to the NFL 2000s All-Decade Team.

Patrick Willis, LB

Patrick Willis, drafted by the San Francisco 49ers in the first round of the 2007 NFL Draft, spent his entire eight-year career with the 49ers. He was named the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, racking up an NFL-leading 174 total tackles, four sacks, two forced fumbles, and five passes deflected.

Willis was a 5x First-Team All-Pro Selection, 1x Second-Team All-Pro, a 7x Pro Bowler, and the NFL tackles leader in 2007 and 2009. He was named to the NFL 2010s All-Decade Team.

Willis played college football at Ole Miss and was a 2x First-Team All-American, a 2x First-Team All-SEC, and was named the SEC Defensive Player of the Year in 2006.

DeMarcus Ware, DE

Demarcus Ware, drafted by the Dallas Cowboys out of Troy University in the first round of the 2005 NFL Draft, played for the Cowboys from 2005-2013 and the Broncos from 2014-2016. When he left the Cowboys, he was the franchise’s all-time leader in quarterback sacks with 117.

With the Broncos, Ware became a Super Bowl Champion. He was a 4x First-Team All-Pro selection, a 3x Second-Team All-Pro, a 9x Pro Bowler, and the NFL sacks leader in 2008 and 2010. He was also named to the NFL 2000s All-Decade Team.

Darren Woodson, DB

Darren Woodson, drafted in the second round of the 1992 NFL Draft, played for the Dallas Cowboys for his entire career from 1992-2004. Woodson was a 3x Super Bowl Champion, a 4x First-Team All-Pro, and a 5x Pro Bowler.

Woodson retired in 2004 as the Cowboys’ all-time leading tackler with 813 career tackles. Woodson has been fighting to get into the Hall of Fame since 2008, when he became a first-time candidate on the Hall of Fame’s preliminary list.

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