Each November, the Pro Football Hall of Fame names at least 25 modern-era players (more if there’s a tie for the last spot), narrowed down from the nominees named in September, who played at least part of their careers in the past 25 years and have been retired at least 5, as semifinalists for induction to the Hall of Fame. No more than five modern-era players are inducted each year, so most of the players listed below won’t be inducted this year and some won’t necessarily be inducted at all, but it’s still important to see what players the Hall of Fame voters consider most worthy of induction into the Hall among the currently-eligible players, and we can look at their relevant honors and argue over which players are worthy of induction.
Players are generally sorted according to their performance on past ballots, with those players that have advanced the furthest listed above those that haven’t advanced as far, and those that have advanced more recently listed above those that haven’t advanced as far as recently. Generally, the order in which players are listed only changes to arrange players based on the stage reached in the most recent year, and each new player to become eligible is listed at the top of their applicable category; during the selection process first-year eligible players are listed at the top of whatever category seems appropriate based on their Hall of Fame Monitor number from Pro Football Reference (not the stage I necessarily think they’ll reach), though I moved James Harrison to join the other four first-year eligible players at the top of the list already (even though there’s no way he gets inducted before DeMarcus Ware, if at all), and I’ve kept Shane Lechler ahead of NaVorro Bowman because I consider his lack of inclusion among the semifinalists more noteworthy despite a lower Monitor. The stages are abbreviated and color-coded in the “Last 5 Years” columns based on a system I shamelessly stole from another blog post a decade or so ago I probably couldn’t find if I looked for it today: “UNL” if a candidate wasn’t even among the nominees that year, “PRE” if they only reached the nominees stage, “Semi” if they were among the 25 semifinalists (this stage), and “T15” or “T10” if they were among the finalists announced in January and were eliminated at the first or second stage, respectively, of deliberation (historically held during Super Bowl weekend and still announced then, but deliberations seem to have been held earlier, in mid-to-late January, each of the past two years).
To the right of the “Last 5 Years” columns are the various stats and honors that go into the Hall of Fame Monitor, along with the Monitor itself, which is color-coded with the background moving from red to green as the number climbs from 40 to 80. To the left of the Monitor are those awards that apply regardless of position: All-Decade team membership, MVPs (but not Defensive Player of the Year awards even though PFR treats them as equivalent to MVPs), first-team All-Pro selections, and Pro Bowl selections. There are two different columns for All-Pro team selections, with the one on the right counting only the most commonly cited selections by the Associated Press, while the one on the left counts each year a player was selected All-Pro by any of the three organizations recognized by the NFL’s official record books, generally the AP, Pro Football Writers Association, and Sporting News. Even though PFR’s own Approximate Value calculation can make up close to half of each player’s Monitor number, I haven’t listed it here. Statistical categories specific to particular positions are not listed here.
Finally, the “Notables Not Advancing” section displays selected nominees not named among the semifinalists, including any player that was a semifinalist the previous year (and most other players recently listed as semifinalists), any first-year eligible player with a Monitor score over 40 (fudged slightly to allow me to list Chris Johnson), and any nominee that just lost their last chance not to fall into the senior pool. These players are included purely for reference and interest and shouldn’t imply anything about how “deserving” they are of being nominated (much less inducted). Players that don’t advance to the semifinalist stage are likely to have a long wait for induction, and might have a long wait just to make the semifinalists, but so long as they have sufficient time left on their eligibility not being listed as a semifinalist isn’t a death sentence for their chances.
Without further ado, here are the 28 (!) modern-era semifinalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2023: