Polamalu, Wayne, Willis 1st year eligible for Hall of Fame
By Barry Wilner
AP Pro Football Writer
Safety Troy Polamalu, wide receiver Reggie Wayne and linebacker Patrick Willis are first-year eligible players among the 25 semifinalists of the modern era for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Also on the list, which will be cut to 15 on Jan. 2, are previous finalists John Lynch, Steve Atwater, Tony Boselli, Steve Hutchinson, Isaac Bruce, Edgerrin James and Alan Faneca.
Five former players will be elected to the class of 2020 on Feb. 1, the day before the Super Bowl. They will be inducted into the Canton, Ohio, shrine in August.
The hall also will induct 10 senior candidates, three contributors and two coaches in a special centennial class in 2020.
There are 14 defensive players, 10 on offense, and one special-teamer, Steve Tasker, who also played wide receiver for Buffalo.
Four players make the semifinals for the first time: linebacker Carl Banks, running backs Fred Taylor and Ricky Watters, and defensive tackle Bryant Young. Every other semifinalist for 2020 has gotten this far before.
There are six defensive backs in the group: Polamalu, Lynch, Atwater, Ronde Barber, LeRoy Butler and Darren Woodson.
Five receivers make the list: Wayne, Bruce, Torry Holt, Hines Ward, and Tasker. There also are five linebackers: Willis, Banks, Clay Matthews, Sam Mills and Zach Thomas.
Hutchinson, Faneca and Boselli are the offensive linemen. Taylor, Watters and James are the running backs. Defensive linemen are Young, Richard Seymour and Simeon Rice.
The semifinalists, in alphabetical order:
Steve Atwater, safety
Carl Banks, linebacker
Ronde Barber, cornerback/safety
Tony Boselli, tackle
Isaac Bruce, wide receiver
LeRoy Butler, safety
Alan Faneca, guard
Torry Holt, wide receiver
Steve Hutchinson, guard
Edgerrin James, running back
John Lynch, safety
Clay Matthews, linebacker
Sam Mills, linebacker
Troy Polamalu, safety
Simeon Rice, defensive end
Richard Seymour, defensive end/defensive tackle
Steve Tasker, wide receiver/special teamer
Fred Taylor, running back
Zach Thomas, linebacker
Hines Ward, wide receiver
Ricky Watters, running back
Reggie Wayne, wide receiver
Patrick Willis, linebacker
Darren Woodson, safety
Bryant Young, defensive tackle