Six former Pittsburgh Steelers players are among the Modern Era nominees for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2023, the hall announced on Tuesday. Wide receiver Hines Ward, nose tackle Casey Hampton, linebackers Chad Brown, James Farrior and James Harrison and kicker Gary Anderson were all nominated.
The six Steelers are among 129 total nominees. The list will be cut to 25 semifinalists in November and 15 finalists in January. The Hall of Fame selection committee will meet before the Super Bowl to determine the members of the class, which will be enshrined at the Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio next August. Between four and nine members can be selected to the class.
Ward has been a semifinalist for six consecutive years, but has never advanced beyond that stage of the voting process. Anderson and Hampton were nominees for the Class of 2022 that did not advance to the semifinalist phase. Brown, Farrior and Harrison were first-time nominees, Harrison in his first year of eligibility. Tight end Heath Miller and inside linebacker Hardy Nickerson Sr., who were nominees in 2022, were not included on this year’s list.
Anderson spent 13 seasons kicking with the Steelers from 1982-94 and is the team’s all-time leading scorer with 1,343 points. He’s the only Pittsburgh player to score more than 1,000 career points and is also the team’s leader in career field goals made (309) and points after touchdown (416). He was a four-time Pro Bowlers, a three-time All-Pro and a member of the NFL’s 1980s and 1990s All-Decade Teams.
Brown was the Steelers’ second-round pick in the 1993 NFL Draft and spent four seasons with the team. He was a member of the PFWA All-Rookie team in 1993 and was a First-Team All-Pro in 1996. After that season, he left in free agency, going to the Seattle Seahawks from 1997-04. He returned to the Steelers in 2006, around one-year stints with the New England Patriots. He finished as a two-time All-Pro, three-time Pro Bowlers and is a member of the Seahawks’ 35th Anniversary Team.
Farrior was the opposite of Brown. Drafted in the first round by the New York Jets in 1997, he played five seasons in New York before joining the Steelers in 2002, and Farrior has gone down as one of the team’s top free agent signings ever. He won two Super Bowls as the Steelers’ starting three-down inside linebacker, and was a two-time All-Pro in 2004 and 2008.
Hampton came to Pittsburgh in the first round of the 2001 NFL Draft out of Texas. The big nose tackle spent 12 seasons in Black and Gold, winning Super Bowls XL and XLIII. Hampton was a five-time Pro Bowl selection and is a member of the Steelers’ All-Time Team.
Harrison is one of the team’s most legendary outside linebackers. Originally joining the team as an undrafted free agent in 2002, it took him years to catch on with the squad full time and Harrison considered giving up football. But starting in 2004, he was a long-term fixture of the Pittsburgh defense that won Super Bowls XL and XLIII. Harrison had the most memorable play of the latter game, with a 100-yard interception return for a touchdown just before the half serving as one of the top plays in NFL history. Harrison was named the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2008, he was a four-time All-Pro and a five-time Pro Bowler.
Ward’s 14-year NFL career was spent carving out a role as one of the most physical players on the Steelers, even as a wide receiver. The Korean-born Ward won two Super Bowls with Pittsburgh and was the MVP of Super Bowl XL after his game-sealing touchdown reception. His impact as a blocker was so well-known that the NFL changed its rules to prevent blindside blocks downfield, which has come to be known as the Hines Ward Rule. Ward was named to four Pro Bowls, was a three-time All-Pro and is on the Steelers’ All-Time Team. He is currently serving as the head coach of the XFL team in San Antonio, Texas.
Cornerback and kick returner Allen Rossum, who spent one season with the Steelers, was also nominated.
The Steelers last had five men enshrined into the Hall of Fame in August of 2021: safeties Troy Polamalu and Donnie Shell and head coach Bill Cowher from the Class of 2020 and guard Alan Faneca and scout Bill Nunn as part of the Class of 2021.
In addition to the 15 modern-era finalists, seniors committee finalists Joe Klecko, Chuck Howley and Ken Riley and coach finalist Don Coryell will be considered this January.