We're just a few weeks removed from the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2022 getting inducted. Today, we learned three of the finalists for the Class of 2023.
On Wednesday, the Hall of Fame announced their three senior player finalists for the Class of 2023. Making the list were linebacker Chuck Howley, defensive lineman Joe Klecko, and cornerback Ken Riley.
Howley was a six-time Pro Bowl and All-Pro selection, playing 13 of his 15 NFL seasons with the Dallas Cowboys. He was the MVP of Super Bowl V despite being on the losing side of the game and remains the only MVP of the Super Bowl loser. He helped the Cowboys win their first Super Bowl the following year and was inducted into the Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor in 1977.
Klecko was a four-time Pro Bowl and three-time All-Pro player with the New York Jets who is most well-known as the leader of their famed "New York Sack Exchange" in the 1980s. He led the NFL in sacks in 1981 - before they officially became a statistic. Klecko is one of the only players to be named to the Pro Bowl at three positions - nose tackle, defensive tackle and defensive end.
Riley played 15 seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals and was a three-time All-Pro selection. While he never made the Pro Bowl, he was one of the best ball-hawks in NFL history, recording 65 interceptions and 18 fumble recoveries during his career. His 65 interceptions are fifth in NFL history. Riley passed away in 2020.
For decades, all three men tried and failed to reach induction via the traditional voting path. However, the Senior Finalists almost always get in.
It's a tragedy that Riley was forced to wait so long for potential induction that he passed away before getting a chance to see it. But his legacy and the legacy of Howley and Klecko have the potential to be immortalized in 2023.
Will all three players be inducted into the Hall of Fame this year?