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Patrick Willis among 15 Hall of Fame Finalists



© Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Another year, another chance at the Pro Football Hall of Fame for Patrick Willis. The Hall announced 15 finalists on Wednesday night, featuring 15 modern-era players.

10 players, including Willis, reached this stage of the selection process in 2022. Three are new additions in their first year of eligibility. Two are first-time finalists after a combined 35 years of eligibility.

The list is below:

  • Jared Allen, Defensive End – 2004-07 Kansas City Chiefs, 2008-2013 Minnesota Vikings, 2014-15 Chicago Bears, 2015 Carolina Panthers
  • Willie Anderson, Offensive Tackle – 1996-2007 Cincinnati Bengals, 2008 Baltimore Raven
  • Ronde Barber, Cornerback/Safety – 1997-2012 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  • Dwight Freeney, Defensive End/Outside Linebacker – 2002-2012 Indianapolis Colts, 2013-14 San Diego Chargers, 2015 Arizona Cardinals, 2016 Atlanta Falcons, 2017 Seattle Seahawks, 2017 Detroit Lions
  • Devin Hester, Punt Returner/Kick Returner/Wide Receiver – 2006-2013 Chicago Bears, 2014-15 Atlanta Falcons, 2016 Baltimore Ravens
  • Torry Holt, Wide Receiver – 1999-2008 St. Louis Rams, 2009 Jacksonville Jaguars
  • Andre Johnson, Wide Receiver – 2003-2014 Houston Texans, 2015 Indianapolis Colts, 2016 Tennessee Titans
  • Albert Lewis, Cornerback – 1983-1993 Kansas City Chiefs, 1994-98 Los Angeles/Oakland Raiders
  • Darrelle Revis, Cornerback – 2007-2012 New York Jets, 2013 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 2014 New England Patriots, 2015-16 New York Jets, 2017 Kansas City Chiefs
  • Joe Thomas, Offensive Tackle – 2007-2017 Cleveland Browns
  • Zach Thomas, Linebacker – 1996-2007 Miami Dolphins, 2008 Dallas Cowboys
  • DeMarcus Ware, Linebacker/Defensive End – 2005-2013 Dallas Cowboys, 2014-16 Denver Broncos
  • Reggie Wayne, Wide Receiver – 2001-2014 Indianapolis Colts
  • Patrick Willis, Linebacker – 2007-2014 San Francisco 49ers
  • Darren Woodson, Safety – 1992-2003 Dallas Cowboys

As many as five players from the list above could be selected for induction. Every inductee needs at least 80 percent of the vote from the Hall of Fame’s Selection Committee.

Willis was eligible for the first time in 2022. His only knock is that he has a shorter career than some Hall of Famer’s, but his resume is outstanding.

In his eight seasons, Willis racked up 733 tackles, leading the league twice. He acquired 20.5 sacks, forced 16 fumbles, recovered five and had eight interceptions, two of which were returned for touchdowns. That excludes the 71 tackles, 2.0 sacks, interception and fumble recovery he had in the playoffs.

The man who was at the heart of the 49ers defense for so many years was a seven-time Pro Bowler and five-time First Team All-Pro. His only direct competition for voting at his position is Zach Thomas, who had a 12-year career and was also a five-time First Team All-Pro. Willis was a member of the 2010s All-Decade Team, while Thomas was a member of the 2000s team.

If voters were to take an approach that Thomas, who has been a finalist four times (tied with Reggie Wayne and Torry Holt for the most among this group), that could potentially hurt Willis’ case this go-around. That said, it’s hard to see Willis not getting in unless certain voters have a hard and fast years played requisite.