The 2023 Pro Football Hall of Fame finalists were named in early January. Three former Miami Hurricanes; Reggie Wayne, Andre Johnson, and Devin Hester, were named finalists.
When the class was officially announced Thursday night, all three were left out of the hall of fame.
Pro Football Hall of Fame, Class of 2023:— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) February 10, 2023
Each of these three legends has been on the ballot multiple times. This was Wayne’s fourth time as a finalist while Johnson and Hester have each been finalists twice.
They all still have an opportunity to get into the Hall of Fame still. Zach Thomas was in his 10th year of eligibility while Ronde Barber was in his sixth.
But should each of these three be selected to be enshrined in Canton?
Do you think Devin Hester deserves to be in the Hall of Fame? pic.twitter.com/mQFJsO1t3o— Pro Football Network (@PFN365) February 10, 2023
This is the easiest argument of the three. Hester is the best return specialist in the history of the National Football League. He proved that over an 11-year career, he broke almost every record for returning kicks.
As a rookie in 2006, Hester made an immediate impact. He returned three punts, two kickoffs, and a missed field goal for touchdowns. He then also brought the opening kick of the Super Bowl back for a touchdown, the first and only player to do that.
His career didn’t end there either. He returned four punts and two kickoffs for touchdowns the following season in 2007. His next touchdown return wouldn’t come until 2010 because opposing teams refused to kick to him.
Hester’s 20 touchdown returns are the most all-time. Usually, having the most of something in a career, at least for positive stats, is a good way to get a ticket into Canton.
To affect the game to the point that teams choose to kick the ball in a worse way is the perfect example of how Devin Hester belongs in the Hall of Fame. And to be the best at something in the history of the sport is the only other argument that needs to be stated.
Should Andre Johnson be inducted into the Hall of Fame tonight?— PFF (@PFF) February 10, 2023
As the third overall pick in the 2003 NFL Draft, Andre Johnson was just the second player taken in the first round by the Houston Texans.
The Texans wouldn’t win more than half their games until Johnson’s seventh season in the NFL even though he dominated through his first six seasons. Johnson was one of the few bright spots for the organization throughout his career, and that is still true almost a decade after he left Houston.
During his 14-year career, Johnson caught 1,062 passes for 14,185 yards and 70 touchdowns. With subpar quarterback play for most of his career, Johnson was still able to put up insane numbers. His career-receiving yardage is 11th all-time. All but three of the players ahead of him are already in the Hall of Fame. Larry Fitzgerald will get in, Steve Smith Sr. was a semifinalist, and Reggie Wayne (we will get to him).
Johnson’s 1,062 catches are also 11th in NFL history, with Fitzgerald, Wayne, Anquan Boldin, and Jason Witten being the only non-Hall of Famers ahead of him.
The stat that is maybe his worst is the number of touchdowns he scored. But with how bad the Texans were for most of his career, it shouldn’t come as a surprise he wasn’t getting many opportunities in the red zone. But 70 receiving touchdowns is still in the top 50 in league history.
With two of the three main statistics for receivers being in the top-11 for the history of the league, it is truly head-scratching to think Johnson wasn’t picked to be a part of either of the last two classes.
33-year-old @ReggieWayne_17 putting on a clinic: 13 catches, 212 yards, 1 TD (Oct. 7, 2012) pic.twitter.com/sCSKo4Ba9N— NFL Legacy (@NFLLegacy) April 9, 2021
All of the arguments for Andre Johnson also apply to Reggie Wayne. But Wayne also has the playoff resume and a Super Bowl ring to go along with the regular season stats.
During his 14-year career, Wayne had 1,070 catches for 14,345 yards and 82 touchdowns. He ranks 10th all-time in receptions and receiving yards and 28th in touchdown receptions. Much of these stats came as a part of the most dominant offense during the 2000s.
Wayne is also one of the best playoff receivers in history, finishing his career with 1,254 yards in the postseason, seventh most in league history.
One of the biggest plays of his career came during the same game as Hester’s most memorable play. After Hester had taken the opening kickoff back for a touchdown in Super Bowl XLI, Wayne caught a 53-yard touchdown later in the first quarter.
Few receivers can claim to have had better careers than Wayne since he is in the top 10 for catching the ball. He also played half his career as the second option. If he spent most of his career without Marvin Harrison on his team, many of his career stats may be even higher. He may be the best second option for an offense in history.