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Sport Ranking the 2020 Pro Football Hall of Fame finalists

05:00  03 january  2020
05:00  03 january  2020 Source:   touchdownwire.usatoday.com

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The Pro Football Hall of Fame announced 15 finalists for the Class of 2020 on Thursday night. All of them are worthy, but only five will make it this year.

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I’ve been in the room as an alternate voter three times and it’s a fascinating process. The voters take their responsibility very seriously, as they should. They want it to be the Hall of Fame, not the Hall of Very Good.

As a veteran writer explained to me the first time I was in the room, anyone that made the finalist list deserved to get in – at some point. But only the best are to get in during a given year. The rest should wait until the right time and their time will come.

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The Hall of Fame 's selection committee will then discuss each finalist on the eve of Super Bowl LIV before naming the five players who will be part of the 2020 Hall of Fame induction class. The class will also include 10 senior inductees, three contributors, and two coaches.

That veteran also told me to keep one question in mind when voting – could the history of the game be written without a player. It was all great advice and I always tried to keep those parameters in mind.

I’m not voting this year, but I’ll still keep that advice in mind as I rank this year’s finalists from No. 15 to No. 1. Here we go.

15. Richard Seymour, DL – 2001-08 New England Patriots, 2009-2012 Oakland Raiders

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Seymour split his career between defensive end and tackle. That works against him. His 57.5 career sacks aren’t nearly enough for the Hall of Fame.

14. Sam Mills, LB – 1986-94 and 1995-97 Carolina Panthers

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I adored covering Mills when he was linebackers coach for the Panthers and I was the beat writer for The Charlotte Observer. Mills was one of the nicest guys I’ve ever covered and a great linebacker. But was he a Hall of Famer? Not yet. Some day, yes. But not yet.

13. John Lynch, S — 1993-2003 Tampa Bay Buccaneers and 2004-07 Denver Broncos

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Lynch is much like Sam Mills, one of the nicest guys I’ve ever covered. He was a great hitter. But he had only 26 career interceptions and that’s the only stat that really matters for a safety in a year when Troy Ploamalu, Steve Atwater and LeRoy Butler also are finalists.

12. Steve Atwater, S — 1989-1998 Denver Broncos, 1999 New York Jets

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Atwater was basically the same player as John Lynch with one less career interception. Both were big hitters. Atwater was an eight-time All-Pro selection and a member of the 1990s All-Decade team.

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This year's list of Hall of Fame finalists is loaded with big names who had a major impact on the game. But who should get in this year? Warner, based on past voting records on quarterbacks, should get into the Hall of Fame eventually. Burke believes Terrell Davis has less than a three percent chance.

11. Bryant Young, DT — 1994-2007 San Francisco 49ers

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Young scores major points for the length of his career. But he’s not a certain Hall of Famer with 89.5 career sacks. If he hit triple digits, he already would be in.

10. Zach Thomas, LB – 1996-2007 Miami Dolphins, 2008 Dallas Cowboys

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A five-time All-Pro and member of the 2000s All-Decade Team, Thomas is a good candidate. But linebackers have to have spectacular numbers to make the Hall of Fame. Seventeen interceptions and 20.5 career sacks aren’t quite enough this year.

9. Tony Boselli, OT — 1995-2001 Jacksonville Jaguars, 2002 Houston Texans

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A three-time All-Pro and member of the 1990s All-Decade Team, the shortness of Boselli’s career works against him. He only played in 91 games.

8. Reggie Wayne, WR – 2001-2014 Indianapolis Colts

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Wayne was Peyton Manning’s favorite target and finished his career with more than 14,000 receiving yards. But Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt could get in before him.

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7. Torry Holt, WR – 1994-2007 Rams, 2008-08 San Francisco 49ers

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Holt will be a Hall-of-Famer one of these years, but not until after former teammate Isaac Bruce. He was only a first-team All-Pro once.

6. Steve Hutchinson, G – 2001-05 Seattle Seahawks, 2006-2011 Minnesota Vikings, 2012 Tennessee Titans

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Hutchinson was a member of the All-Decade team for the 2000s and a five-time first-team All-Pro. He has a chance to get in this year, but Tony Boselli and Alan Faneca could get in his way.

5. Isaac Bruce, WR – 1994-2007 Rams, 2008-09 San Francisco 49ers

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Bruce had over 15,000 receiving yards. But the fact he never was a first-team All-Pro works against him.

4. Alan Faneca, G – 1998-2007 Pittsburgh Steelers, 2008-09 New York Jets, 2010 Arizona Cardinals

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Faneca could slide in this year. He went to nine straight Pro Bowls and was a member of the All-Decade team for the 2000s.

3. LeRoy Butler, DB – 1990-2001 Green Bay Packers

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Butler ranks well ahead of John Lynch and Steve Atwater because of his 38 career interceptions. He also was a member of the 1990s All-Decade team. It’s difficult for safeties to make the Hall of Fame and Troy Polamulu and Butler may be pushing the limit this year.

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2. Edgerrin James, RB – 1999-2005 Indianapolis Colts, 2006-08 Arizona Cardinals, 2009 Seattle Seahawks

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The NFL’s rushing leader in 1999 and 2000, James is one of the best all-around backs. He rushed for 12,246 yards and had 433 receptions. He also was a member of the 2000s All-Decade team.

1. Troy Polamalu, S – 2003-2014 Pittsburgh Steelers

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The NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2010 and a member of the 2000s All-Decade Team, Polamalu was an eight-time Pro Bowler. He had 32 career interceptions and should be a first-ballot Hall of Famer.

Pat Yasinskas has covered the NFL since 1993. He has worked for The Tampa Tribune, The Charlotte Observer and ESPN.com and writes for numerous national magazines and websites. He also has served as a voter for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

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