As part of tonight’s NFL Honors program, the 2023 Hall of Fame class has been revealed. Here is the full breakdown of this year’s honorees:
Ronde Barber, cornerback (1997-2012)
After a long wait, the Buccaneers’ all-time interceptions leader is headed to Canton. Barber played all 16 of his NFL seasons in Tampa Bay, helping the team win Super Bowl XXXVII. The former third-rounder is the only player in league history to record more than 45 interceptions and 25 sacks, figures which helped him earn five Pro Bowl and three first-team All-Pro selections. A 2000s All-Decade member, Barber spent much of his career in a class of his own with respect to slot corners in particular and enjoyed historic longevity.
A first-round pick of the Jets, “Revis Island” was located in New York for six years to start the first-round pick’s career. That stretch saw Revis record an all time single-season record in pass deflections in 2009 (31). Revis earned five of his seven career Pro Bowl nods and three of his four first-team All-Pro honors during his time with the Jets, which included a two-year return to the Empire State in 2015 and 2016. The Super Bowl XLIX winner also spent time with the Buccaneers, Patriots and Chiefs, totaling 29 interceptions and being named a 2010s All-Decade member.
Joe Thomas, left tackle (2007-2017)*
Not much went right for the Browns during Thomas’ career, but the former No. 3 overall pick was a sterling model of consistent and elite offensive line play. Thomas was an immediate starter as a rookie and did not miss a snap until suffering an injury in the final campaign of his career. The Wisconsin alum maintained his status as arguably the NFL’s premier pass protector throughout his tenure, and will go down as one of the top blindside blockers not only of his generation (as evidenced by his inclusion on the 2010s All-Decade team) but all time.
Another defender who endured a lengthy stay as a HOF finalist, Thomas spent all but his final season in Miami. The former fifth-rounder became entrenched as the leader of the Dolphins’ defense during his hugely productive tenure with the team. A five-time first-team All-Pro, Thomas racked up seven Pro Bowls while collecting 1,734 tackles (the fifth-highest mark in league history). He was thus an easy selection for the 2000s All-Decade team.
DeMarcus Ware, linebacker (2005-2016)
A first-round pick of the Cowboys, Ware quickly established himself as a dominant pass rusher. He led the NFL in sacks twice during his time in Dallas. A nine-time Pro Bowler, four-time first-team All-Pro and 2000s All-Decade member, Ware spent the final three years of his NFL tenure in Denver. It was with the Broncos that he won Super Bowl 50, capping off a pro career which saw him record 138.5 sacks, a figure which ranks third amongst 21st-century players and ninth all time.
* – denotes first year of eligibility
As well as the above members, Canton will also be welcoming former Bears and Cowboys linebacker Chuck Howley, former Jets and Colts defensive lineman Joe Klecko and former Bengals cornerback Ken Riley as senior finalists. The senior head coaching finalist is Don Coryell, an alum of the Chargers and Cardinals.
The only member of a losing team to be named Super Bowl MVP, Howley (who won such acclaim in Super Bowl V) earned five straight All-Pro honors from 1966-70. He helped the Cowboys to their first Super Bowl win a year later. One of the most versatile D-linemen of his era, Klecko shined at both defensive end and D-tackle as part of the Jets’ “New York Sack Exchange” pass rush. He ripped off an unofficial — since sacks did not become a full-fledged stat until 1982 — 20.5-sack season in 1981 while helping the Jets to the playoffs. Riley’s 65 interceptions are tied for fifth all time. Although Riley never earned Pro Bowl recognition, the Bengals ballhawk landed first- or second-team All-Pro acclaim three times during his 15-year career.
Among the NFL’s signature passing-game innovators, Coryell made the most of his HC opportunities in St. Louis and San Diego. Coryell (111-83-1) led the Cardinals to back-to-back playoff berths in 1974 and ’75 — the franchise’s lone non-strike-year postseason advancement between 1948 and 1998 — and ignited the Chargers’ offense upon taking the reins in 1978. The Bolts ranked first in passing offense in each of Coryell’s first five seasons. Featuring three Hall of Famers (Dan Fouts, Kellen Winslow, Charlie Joiner), the “Air Coryell” attack helped the Bolts to four consecutive playoff berths from 1979-82.
Sam Robinson contributed to this post.