The Pro Football Hall of Fame moved one step closer to picking its Class of 2019 in announcing the 15 modern-era finalists on Thursday night.
Only five of the 15 finalists can be chosen to the Hall of Fame by the board of selectors, and it takes 80 percent “yes” votes for enshrinement, so players at the same position often split the voting in unexpected ways.
On Feb. 2 in Atlanta, the list of modern-era finalists will be trimmed to 10 and then to five.
The remaining five finalists are chosen on a yes-or-no basis.
The senior (Johnny Robinson) and contributor (Gil Brandt and Pat Bowlen) nominees are voted on separately from the modern-era finalists and are considered on a yes-or-no basis.
Here’s a closer look at the finalists for 2019:
Atwater was one of the league’s fiercest tacklers and won two Super Bowls with the Broncos. He closed out his career as an eight-time Pro Bowl selection and two-time first-team All-Pro pick. Atwater had six 100-tackle seasons, and at 6-foot-3 and 218 pounds, he was one of the biggest, most mobile safeties of his era.
Cornerback, Washington Redskins, 1999-2003; Denver Broncos, 2004-2013
Bailey is a 12-time Pro Bowl selection, three-time first-team All-Pro selection and an All-Decade pick for the 2000s. He finished his career with 52 interceptions.
A four-time semifinalist, injuries shortened Boselli’s career — he started 90 of 91 career games — and only played three games during his final two NFL seasons. At his best, his opponents and his teammates said he was among the best of his era.
Wide receiver, Los Angeles/St. Louis Rams, 1994-2007; San Francisco 49ers, 2008-2009
Bruce had eight 1,000-yard seasons, including three after he turned 30, with his eighth at 34 years old. He led the NFL in receiving yards (1,338) in 1996 and finished his career with four 80-catch seasons, including his time with the “The Greatest Show on Turf” in St. Louis.
Coach, St. Louis Cardinals, 1973-77; San Diego Chargers, 1978-1986
Coryell is a five-time finalist whose offensive ideas made him what former Rams coach Mike Martz called, “The father of the modern passing game.” Many of the roots of all of the variations of the West Coast offenses that have flourished for decades in the league were in Coryell’s playbook.
A nine-time Pro Bowl selection as well as a six-time first-team All Pro, Faneca started 16 games in 10 of his seasons and played in at least 15 games in 13 seasons. He was an All-Decade selection for the 2000s.
This is Flores’ first year as a finalist — or even a semifinalist. He won a Super Bowl as a player and as an assistant coach and two more as a head coach. His 1980 Raiders team was the first to win the title as a wild-card team, defeating the Philadelphia Eagles 27-10 in Super Bowl XV.
Gonzalez is a finalist in his first year of eligibility. He was a 14-time Pro Bowl selection and led the league in receptions (102) in 2004 and finished among the league’s top 10 in receptions five times. He is No. 2 all-time in receptions with 1,325.
Guard, Seattle Seahawks, 2001-2005; Minnesota Vikings, 2006-2011
The seven-time Pro Bowl selection started 16 games in eight of his 11 seasons. He enjoyed seven seasons when he was flagged for one or fewer penalties. Hutchinson was one of the first offensive linemen to be targeted in free agency, and his offer sheet from the Vikings included a “poison pill” provision to guarantee his salary if he was not highest paid lineman on the team, something Seattle did not match.
Running back, Indianapolis Colts, 1999-2005; Arizona Cardinals, 2006-2008; Seattle Seahawks, 2009
He was the league’s offensive rookie of the year in 1999 and won the league’s rushing title his first two years — with 1,553 yards rushing in 1999 and 1,709 yards rushing in 2000. James posted four 1,500-yard rushing seasons and five 50-reception seasons, and he topped 15,000 yards from scrimmage for his career.
Cornerback, New England Patriots, 1995-2004; New York Jets, 2005, 2008; Kansas City Chiefs, 2006-2007; Denver Broncos, 2009
Law was a five-time Pro Bowl selection and a three-time Super Bowl winner who did some of his best work in the postseason. He had six interceptions in 13 career postseason games, including three in the Patriots’ run to close out the 2003 season with a Lombardi trophy. He finished with 53 career interceptions, including a league-leading 10 in 2005 as a 31-year-old.
Safety, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 1993-2003; Denver Broncos, 2004-2007
Lynch started just 10 games in his first three seasons, but he still became a nine-time Pro Bowler. Lynch’s rugged style was a signature for the Buccaneers’ Super Bowl-winning defense in 2002, when the team led the league in virtually every significant defensive category.
Center, Seattle Seahawks, 1994-1997; New York Jets, 1998-2005; Tennessee Titans, 2006-2009
Mawae was an eight-time Pro Bowl selection whose leadership was lauded at every stop in his career. Hall of Fame coach Bill Parcells has said Mawae helped revolutionize the center position and called him the “best center I ever had.” He was selected to the All-Decade team of the 2000s.
Safety, Baltimore Ravens, 2002-2012; New York Jets, 2013; Houston Texans, 2013
The nine-time Pro Bowl selection led the league in interceptions three times and finished as the all-time leader in interception-return yardage (1,590). Reid scored 13 non-offensive touchdowns in his career, including seven interception returns and two fumble returns.
Defensive lineman, New England Patriots, 2001-2008; Oakland Raiders, 2009-2012
Seymour was a seven-time Pro Bowl selection and was one of the centerpiece players in the beginning of the Patriots’ long run that has since included five Super Bowl wins; Seymour played on three of the title winners. Seymour was versatile enough to have been selected to the Pro Bowl in both a 3-4 defense and a 4-3 defense. He was an All-Decade pick for the 2000s.
Safety, Dallas Texans/Kansas City Chiefs, 1960-1971
Robinson was a seven-time Pro Bowl selection, as well as a six-time first-team All-Pro selection as a defensive player. He started his career on offense, rushing for 458 yards as a rookie and had two 600-yard receiving seasons in the earliest days of the AFL.
Vice president of player personnel, Dallas Cowboys, 1960-1989
How teams evaluate players can be traced to Brandt’s long run with the Cowboys, including the use of computers, tracking multisport athletes and mining small-college talent.
Owner, Denver Broncos, 1984-present
He is the only owner in NFL history whose team tallied 300 wins in the first 30 years of his tenure. The Broncos have won three Super Bowls and played in seven Super Bowls since he purchased the team. He also served as an important voice in league affairs in his time on several committees, including the management council executive committee and broadcasting committee.