PITTSBURGH — Former Steelers players James Harrison and Hines Ward were not named as finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2024 during the reveal of the 15 modern-era finalists on Wednesday.
Harrison was a semifinalist for the first time in his second season of eligibility. Ward has now been a semifinalist for eight consecutive seasons. Both of the players were among the 25 modern-era semifinalists for the class of 2024 when it came out in November.
The finalists in this class are cornerback Eric Allen, defensive end Jared Allen, tackle Willie Anderson, guard Jahri Evans, defensive end Dwight Freeney, tight end Antonio Gates, safety Rodney Harrison, wide receiver and kick returner Devin Hester, wide receiver Torry Holt, wide receiver Andre Johnson, defensive end Julius Peppers, running back Fred Taylor, wide receiver Reggie Wayne, linebacker Patrick Willis and safety Darren Woodson.
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. He was inducted into the Steelers’ Hall of Honor last season.
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 the head coach of the XFL’s San Antonio Brahmas.
The Hall of Fame selection committee will announce the inductees during the NFL Honors telecast in February. Enshrinement will take place in a ceremony at the Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio in August.