CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Ten first-year eligible players, including defensive standouts DeMarcus Ware and Robert Mathis, and receivers Andre Johnson, Steve Smith and Anquan Boldin are among 122 nominees for the 2022 class of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Other first-year eligibles are kick returner Devin Hester, offensive linemen Jake Long and Nick Mangold, as well as defensive lineman Vince Wilfork and defensive back Antonio Cromartie.
Smith, a Carolina Panthers legend, played 16 NFL seasons with Carolina and Baltimore.
The wide receiver ranks 8th in receiving yards (14,731), 9th in all-purpose yards (19,180) and 12th in receptions (1,031).
Carolina's third-round draft pick in 2001, Smith is regarded by many as the greatest Panther of all time and in 2019 he returned to be inducted in to the team's Hall of Honor.
Other Panthers on the ballot include: LB Sam Mills, QB Jake Delhomme, WR Muhsin Muhammad, K John Kasay, T Jordan Gross, TE Wesley Walls, DE Jared Allen and DB Charles Tillman.
The list will be reduced to 25 semifinalists in November and to 15 finalists in January before the selection committee discusses and chooses the class of 2022 that will be enshrined in August.