On Wednesday Pittsburgh Steelers great Hines Ward was named as one of 26 modern-era semifinalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2022—the only one of five Steelers nominees to make the semifinal round.
Failing to make the cut were former tight end Heath Miller (2005-15), nose tackle Casey Hampton (2001-12), linebacker Hardy Nickerson Sr. (1987-92) and placekicker Gary Anderson (1982-94).
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This is the sixth consecutive year that Ward has been named a semifinalist. He has never advanced to the final round of voting, when the list is cut to 15 modern-era candidates.
Hines Ward’s Prospects for 2022
Ward is likely to face an uphill battle again this year. For starters, he is one of six former wide receivers—along with Anquan Boldin, Torry Holt, Andre Johnson, Steve Smith and Reggie Wayne—among the semifinalists. In addition, a total of five Steelers were a part of the Classes of 2020 and 2021, and Hall of Fame voters might be hesitant to induct yet another Steeler in 2022.
On the other hand, Ward’s candidacy has been in the spotlight in the past year, thanks in part to Alan Faneca (Hall of Fame Class of 2021), who chose Ward to be his Hall of Fame presenter. The Hall of Fame talk surrounding the offseason retirement of New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman also helped paint Ward’s career in a Hall of Fame-worthy light.
Next Steps in the Process
The list of modern-era semifinalists was reduced from an initial group of 123 nominees, and the cutdown from 26 to 15 will take place in January. The Pro Football Hall of Fame’s 49-person Selection Committee will choose the Class of 2022 in advance of Super Bowl LVI in Los Angeles. Finally, the class will be announced on February 10, 2022, with the enshrinement ceremony to take place in August in Canton, Ohio.
This year seven candidates made the semifinals in their first year of eligibility, those being Anquan Boldin, Devin Hester, Andre Johnson, Robert Mathis, Steve Smith, DeMarcus Ware and Vince Wilfork.
The Steelers named to the Class of 2020 included safeties Troy Polamalu and Donnie Shell, plus former Steelers head coach Bill Cowher. The Class of 2021 featured offensive guard Alan Faneca, as well as late scout/front office executive Bill Nunn (aka The Dynasty Builder).
3 Former Steelers on the 2022 College Football Hall of Fame Ballot
Meanwhile, the announcement of the 2022 College Football Hall of Fame Class is also expected early next year, with the induction ceremony scheduled for December 6, 2022.
There are three former Steelers on the ballot, most notably inside linebacker Levon Kirkland and wide receiver Antwaan Randle El, the latter of whom now serves as wide receivers coach for the Detroit Lions.
Also on the ballot is offensive tackle Flozell Adams, as well as the late Craig ‘Ironhead’ Heyward, the father of Steelers captain Cameron Heyward.
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