First-time eligibles Tony Gonzalez, Ed Reed and Champ Bailey are among 15 modern-era finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s class of 2019.
They 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, Ty Law, John Lynch, Kevin Mawae, and Richard Seymour. Although previously eligible, Flores — who coached two Raiders teams to Super Bowl titles — and longtime defensive lineman Seymour are finalists for the first time.
Mawae, Atwater, Faneca, Law and Reed all played for the Jets, although Mawae is the only one who is best remembered for his time with Gang Green. There were no former Giants on the finalists list.
In eight seasons the Jets center from 1998-2005, Mawae made the Pro Bowl six times and was named first-team All-Pro twice. He made the Pro Bowl twice more with the Titans in the final two years of his career before retiring after the 2009 season.
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.
A maximum of eight new members can be elected, five from the modern-era group. Inductions are Aug. 3 in Canton, Ohio.
Gonzalez played 17 seasons with the Chiefs and Falcons, but never made a Super Bowl. No matter: he holds the career record for tight ends with 1,325, second only overall to Jerry Rice, and gained more 15,127 yards while scoring 111 touchdowns. His string of 211 straight games with a catch lasted from 2000-13.
Reed 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.
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.
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.
In all there, are three safeties, two cornerbacks, two offensive tackles, two coaches, one guard, one center, one tight end, one running back, one wide receiver and one defensive lineman as finalists.