Patriots legends Ty Law and Richard Seymour are both on the doorstep of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, among the 15 modern-era finalists announced as eligible for the class of 2019 on Thursday night.
This is Seymour’s first time making the final 15, from which a maximum of five can be elected. He was eliminated in the cutdown from 25 to 15 in his first time on the ballot last year. Law, eligible for the fifth time, is a finalist for the third straight year.
First-time eligibles Tony Gonzalez, Ed Reed and Champ Bailey highlight the group, and will be joined in balloting on Feb. 2 by Steve Atwater, Tony Boselli, Isaac Bruce, Don Coryell, Alan Faneca, Tom Flores, Steve Hutchinson, Edgerrin James, John Lynch and Kevin Mawae. Flores, who coached two Raiders teams to Super Bowl titles, is also a first-time finalist.
Also being considered for induction are senior committee nominee Johnny Robinson, a star safety for Dallas/Kansas City from 1960-71, and contributors finalists Gil Brandt, former personnel director for the Cowboys and now the NFL’s top draft consultant, and Broncos owner Pat Bowlen. Including the modern cap of five, between four and eight new members will be elected.
Results will be announced on the eve of Super Bowl LIII, with the Hall of Fame class first introduced during the NFL Honors awards ceremony. Inductions are Aug. 3 in Canton, Ohio.
Seymour, the lone defensive lineman among the final 15, was part of the first three Patriots Super Bowl champions after going No. 6 in the 2001 draft. All-AFC five times, first-team All-Pro three straight times from 2003-2005 and chosen to the All-2000s team, the Patriots traded him with a year left on his contract to Oakland in September 2009, reaping Nate Solder from the draft pick they received. The Raiders ultimately made Seymour the richest defensive player in the game in February 2011, only to void that contract two years later due to injury.
Law played 15 seasons, the first 10 with the Patriots after being taken No. 23 overall in 1995. He started at left cornerback in three Super Bowls, including the victories over the Rams — during which he returned a Kurt Warner interception 47 yards for a touchdown — and Panthers. He led the league in interceptions twice, including 1998 with New England, and also made the All-2000s team.
His departure to the Jets for the 2005 season after he refused to restructure his contract was his first of two tenures there, playing also with Kansas City and Denver before retiring after the 2009 season. Law went into the Patriots Hall of Fame in 2014.
Fellow cornerback Bailey played 15 seasons with Washington and Denver and was a three-time All-Pro. Considered one of the game’s best cover cornerbacks, he had a career-high 10 interceptions in 2006.
Gonzalez played 17 seasons with the Chiefs and Falcons, but never made a Super Bowl. He holds the career receptions record for tight ends with 1,325, second only overall to Jerry Rice, and gained more than 15,127 yards while scoring 111 touchdowns. His string of 211 straight games with a catch lasted from 2000-13.
Reed — a longtime favorite of Bill Belichick — spent 12 seasons with the Ravens, Texans, and Jets, winning an NFL title in 2012. He’s one of two players to lead the NFL in interceptions three times (2-4, 2008, 2010) and was the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2004.
Lynch, a standout safety for Tampa Bay and Denver, becomes a finalist for the sixth straight year. Coryell, who coached the high-powered offenses of the Cardinals and Chargers in the 1970s and ’80s, is a five-time finalist.
Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.