The Pro Football Hall of Fame has officially welcomed two classes of talent into their ranks. The COVID-19 pandemic interrupted the 2020 class induction, and so this weekend in Canton featured a double dip of stars getting their due. But the former Miami Dolphins star who has been kept on hold by the voters of the Hall of Fame, Zach Thomas, was not among them. Despite being a finalist in each of the last two years, Thomas hasn’t gotten the necessary votes to break through and become immortalized in Canton.
Thomas did get a vote of confidence from former coach Jimmy Johnson, who went into the Hall of Saturday. And while all of the vocal support for Thomas’ case will be welcomed, his eligibility and ability to break through is likely going to be tied to what the competition looks like in any given year.
So what new eligible players will enter into the picture for the Class of 2022?
Notable eligibles for the first time for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2022 include DeMarcus Ware, Steve Smith Sr., Andre Johnson, Robert Mathis, Anquan Boldin, Devin Hester and Vince Wilfork. pic.twitter.com/5gRbtLBbAR
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) August 9, 2021
DeMarcus Ware feels like a shoo-in as a first-ballot Hall of Famer. But amid the others, there seem to be enough questions that Thomas may get the crack he needs to help alleviate the HOF’s bottleneck of several long-time finalists who haven’t quite been able to break through. Wide receivers typically are forced to wait. And despite Calvin Johnson’s induction this year as a first-ballot player, none of the receivers eligible for 2022 displayed that same level of dominance.
Devin Hester may get some serious consideration for the impact he brought to the field as a returner; he’s the unquestioned best of all time there. But does that warrant first ballot induction? If not, there may be four spaces open for veterans of the process like Thomas.
Thomas never stood a chance in a class that had Peyton Manning, Charles Woodson and Calvin Johnson, which was the group that was inducted for 2021. But 2022 doesn’t have all-time GOATs in multiple spots; so consider Thomas’ window more open now than it was a year ago.
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