Voting for the next Hall of Fame class officially reached the semi-final stage on Tuesday with the announcement of the 25 players who have been selected to move forward to the next round and the Pittsburgh Steelers still have two candidates eligible for induction in 2019.
While Thomas Everett and Bill Cowher failed to make the cut from the initial list of 103 nominees, both Hines Ward and Alan Faneca remain in the running for selection and will now face another vote before January 3. At this point the list will be whittled down to just 15 Modern-Era finalists.
For Faneca, this is the fourth year in a row he has made it to the semi-final stage and the third year in a row for Ward. While Faneca has made it to the to the finalist stage in each of the last three seasons, Ward has yet to make it past this round. However, with a number of strong first year eligible candidates in 2019, there is a good chance neither of them will win their place in the Hall of Fame this year.
Cornerback Champ Bailey, tight end Tony Gonzalez and safety Ed Reed all appear to be virtual locks for inclusion in their first year of eligibility, leaving just two places left for the remaining 22 names on this year’s list to fight for. With Tony Boselli still waiting for his rightful place in the hall to be confirmed, Faneca is unlikely to be voted in ahead of him and Steve Hutchinson is also likely to see a significant number of votes at his position as well.
Ward faces stiff competition from fellow wide receivers Issac Bruce and Torry Holt and it would not be a huge surprise if he failed to progress to the finalist stage of the voting once again this year. The Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2019 will be announced during NFL Honors award show on February 2.