The 2018 Pro Football Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony takes place Saturday night from Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton, Ohio. Coverage begins at 7 p.m. on ESPN and NFL Network.
The list of eight inductees this year includes: Terrell Owens (who will not be attending the ceremony after it took three years to elect him), Ray Lewis, Brian Urlacher, Randy Moss, Jerry Kramer, Brian Dawkins, Robert Brazile and Bobby Beathard.
Owens, as brash as ever even in retirement, delivered his acceptance speech Saturday from his alma mater, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
As always, it is never too early to look to next year. Next year’s crop of candidates to select from includes more of some of the most accomplished defensive players of the first decade of the new millennium, as well as a few offensive skill-position players who have first-ballot credentials.
Here is a list of eight potential candidates who be enshrined in Canton next August:
Isaac Bruce, Wide Receiver
Bruce is fifth on the all-time list with 15,208 receiving yards. He played 14 seasons (1994-2007) with the Log Angeles/St. Louis Rams before finishing his career with the San Francisco 49ers. He was also an instrumental part in “The Greatest Show on Turf,” helping the Rams win Super Bowl 34 in 2000, and getting back two years later — losing to the New England Patriots.
Tony Gonzalez, Tight End
If Bruce is No. 5, guess who is No. 6? Gonzalez accumulated just 81 less yards (15,127) than Bruce. Gonzalez has a special case for being not only one of the greatest tight ends in NFL history, but one of the greatest pass-catchers in NFL history, period. He was a six-time First Team All-Pro and made 14 Pro Bowl appearances.
Alan Faneca, Offensive Lineman
One of the backbones of a Pittsburgh Steelers (later the New York Jets) offensive line, a unit that was dominant for a decade. Faneca won Super Bowl 40, and came up short in the AFC Championship Game on four other occasions (2001, 2004, 2009, 2010). He is also a six-time First Team All-Pro.
Steve Hutchinson, Offensive Lineman
Hutchinson played for three teams (Seattle Seahawks, Minnesota Vikings and Tennessee Titans), and also played in Super Bowl 40. He is a five-time First Team All-Pro, and made seven Pro Bowl appearances. Hutchinson and Fancea were also selected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s 2000s First Team.
Champ Bailey, Cornerback
Following great cornerbacks like Deion Sanders before him, Bailey emerged onto the scene and re-established a place for true shutdown players, who could you slot onto one side of the field and scheme the rest of a defense around. He played 15 seasons, five with the Washington Redskins and 10 with the Denver Broncos; he made 12 Pro Bowl appearances and was named First Team All-Pro three times.
Ronde Barber, Cornerback
Barber, brother of former New York Giants running back Tiki, was a steady presence in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers secondary, who spent his entire career (16 seasons) with the organization, and helped them win Super Bowl 37 in 2002. Barber was a three-time First Team All-Pro and made five Pro Bowl appearances.
Ed Reed, Safety
Reed is widely regarded as the greatest ballhawking safety of the previous generation. He was the heavy in the Baltimore Ravens secondary, and helped the organization win their second Super Bowl title on his way out; he would ultimately retire one year later after a failed stint with the Houston Texans, and then Jets. Reed won 2004 Associated Press Defensive player of the Year, was named First Team All-Pro five times and made nine Pro Bowl appearances in 12 seasons.
John Lynch, Safety
The hard-hitting Lynch played 15 seasons (11 with Tampa Bay, four with Denver) and racked up nine Pro Bowl appearances, including winning Super Bowl 37. He is also currently the general manager for the San Francisco 49ers, and was hired in January 2017.