The Pittsburgh Steelers could have two more players added to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, as soon as the 2023 class possibly. On Tuesday, it was announced that edge rusher, James Harrison and wide receiver, Hines Ward have made it to the semifinalist stage for this year’s upcoming class.
This is Harrison’s first year on the ballot, as he retired in 2017. Realistically, he probably doesn’t have a great chance to make the Hall of Fame due to just not having enough elite seasons. In his 17-year career, Harrison made five Pro Bowls, as well as appearing on the All-Pro First Team twice. All five of those appearances happened in a five-year stretch from 2007-2011.
We are excited to reveal our 28 Modern-Era Semifinalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2023.
The list includes five first-year eligible candidates.
— Pro Football Hall of Fame (@ProFootballHOF) November 22, 2022
Other than that remarkable five-year stretch, the two-time Super Bowl champ wasn’t able to rack up more than six sacks in any other season. Of course, 2008 was the most memorable season, as he was the best of the best when at the top of his game. He was able to win AP Defensive Player of the Year with 16 sacks, seven forced fumbles, and 16 tackles for loss. Harrison capped off the season with a pick-six in the Super Bowl, when the Steelers defeated the Arizona Cardinals.
That particular season was one of the best individual performances we have ever seen, especially from a defender. He was even able to finish fourth in the NFL MVP voting that year. If we’re talking purely about a player’s peak, Harrison would deserve to make it. Unfortunately, that peak probably didn’t last long enough in order for him to make it. Still, the fact that he has made the semifinalist stage of voting does give a glimmer of hope.
As for Ward, he has been trying to make the HOF for a few seasons now, as he retired back in 2011. He was the epitome of a player whose impact wasn’t always shown in the box score. Like Harrison, Ward ended his career with two Super Bowl rings. He had four Pro Bowl appearances, while making the All-Pro Second Team three consecutive seasons from 2002-2004, while being known as one of the game’s best blocking receivers.
Ward had six 1,000-yard seasons in the black and gold, which is where he spent his whole 14-year NFL career. Ward’s 12,083 career receiving yards are 27th-most in NFL history. He’s ahead of the likes of Michael Irvin, Antonio Gates, Calvin Johnson, and other legendary pass-catchers, all three of which are in the Hall of Fame. The finalists will be announced in early January, when the list is cut from 25 down to 15.
Do you think either one of these guys has a realistic shot at making this year (or in the future)? If you had to choose one, who would be more deserving of making it? What are your favorite memories from the careers of Harrison and Ward? As always, share your thoughts in the comment section below!
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