On Thursday the Pro Football Hall of Fame revealed its 15 finalists for the Hall of Fame Class of 2022 and for the sixth year in a row, former Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward failed to make the cut at this stage of the proceedings. But three other wideouts did make the grade, including one—Andre Johnson (2003-16)—who made it in his first year of eligibility.
The other two wide receivers among this year’s finalists are: Torry Holt, who starred for the St. Louis Rams between 1999 and 2008 and finished his career with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2009; and Reggie Wayne, who spent his entire 14-year career (2001-14) with the Indianapolis Colts. Also making the finals in his first year of eligibility was punt returner/kick returner/wide receiver Devin Hester, who spent the bulk of his 11-year career with the Chicago Bears.
In addition to Ward, two other wide receivers were eliminated from consideration on December 30, those being Anquan Boldin (who played the first half of his 14-year career with the Cardinals) and Steve Smith (who had a 16-year career with the Carolina Panthers and Baltimore Ravens).
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Former Teammate/Class of 2021 Hall of Famer Alan Faneca Has Been Lobbying For Ward
It’s notable that Ward is consistently advancing as far as the semifinal round before getting cut. This year’s result is particularly disappointing, as Ward’s candidacy has been in the spotlight in recent months, thanks in part to Alan Faneca (Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2021), who chose Ward to be his Hall of Fame presenter. The Hall of Fame talk surrounding the offseason retirement of New England Patriots receiver Julian Edelman also helped frame Ward’s career in a Hall of Fame-worthy light.
Hines Ward vs. Torry Holt vs. Reggie Wayne
For what it’s worth, here’s how Hines Ward’s career stats compare to Torry Holt and Reggie Wayne:
In 14 seasons Ward caught 1,000 passes for 12,083 yards and had 85 touchdown receptions. He earned Pro Bowl honors four times and was also the MVP of Super Bowl XL.
Per Pro Football Reference (PFR), Holt hauled in 920 passes for 13,382 yards and 74 touchdown receptions. He was a seven-time Pro Bowler and was named first-team All-Pro in 2003, a year in which he caught 117 passes for 1,696 yards.
According to PFR, Reggie Wayne authored 1,070 receptions during the course of his career for 14,345 yards with 82 touchdown catches. He was a six-time Pro Bowler and was named first-team All-Pro in 2010.
It’s also worth noting that Wayne was catching passes from first-ballot Hall of Famer Peyton Manning for a decade, including all of the prime years of his career. As for Holt, the first three years of his career were spent on the receiving end of throws from Hall of Famer Kurt Warner.
Ward did get the opportunity to catch passes from a future Hall of Fame quarterback in Ben Roethlisberger, but Big Ben did not arrive until Ward was entering his seventh year in the league. It probably doesn’t help that Ward’s extraordinary level of proficiency as a blocker is difficult to quantify, though one of his most devastating blocks (on Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Keith Rivers) led to an NFL rules change.
Hines Ward Was the Only Former Steeler to Advance to the Semifinals This Year
Ward was among five former Steelers who were nominated as candidates for the Class of 2022 on September 22, 2021. The other four were: tight end Heath Miller (2005-15), nose tackle Casey Hampton (2001-12), linebacker Hardy Nickerson Sr. (1987-92) and placekicker Gary Anderson (1982-94). Ward was the only one of the five to make the cut to 26 semifinalists, whose names were revealed on November 24, 2021.
The Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2022 will be announced on February 10, 2022, with the enshrinement ceremony to take place in August in Canton, Ohio.
Meanwhile, Ward continues to pursue a coaching career, having recently been promoted to wide receivers coach for the Florida Atlantic University Owls. He got his start with Florida Atlantic in April 2021, when he signed on as an “off-field assistant.”
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