The Pro Football Hall of Fame announced on Wednesday that Indianapolis Colts wide receiver great Reggie Wayne and elite speed rushing sackmaster Dwight Freeney are among the 15-modern era finalists for its Class of 2023:
Wayne is a finalist for the fourth straight year, and if he keeps seriously knocking on Canton’s door like this, he should get an eventual knock of his own for enshrinement.
Wayne joins a loaded 2023 finalist class at wide receiver that also includes other standouts such as the Houston Texans Andre Johnson and St. Louis Rams Torry Holt.
The former 2001 first round pick of the Colts ranks 10th all-time in career catches (1,070) and receiving yards (14,345), as well as 28th in touchdown receptions (82) respectively. He has the 5th most playoff catches (93) and 7th most playoff receiving yards (1,254) all-time.
As a beloved fan favorite for the Colts franchise, Wayne played all 14 seasons in Indianapolis (211 career games), where he formed a prolific pairing with legendary quarterback Peyton Manning in one of the league’s most high powered offenses (that also deployed Hall of Famers Marvin Harrison and Edgerrin James) and was a perennial AFC juggernaut. He played ‘catch’ with Colts #1 pick phenom Andrew Luck later in his career—and served as a veteran locker room leader and bridge for the franchise between its two star quarterbacks.
Wayne featured incredibly sure hands, pristine route running, sneaky speed, and had a knack for moving the sticks and making big catches during critical points of the game.
He was a Super Bowl Champion, 3x NFL All-Pro, 6x NFL Pro Bowler, and was later inducted into the Colts franchise’s ‘Ring of Honor’.
Meanwhile, Dwight Freeney, entering his first time on the ballot this year, was one of the most feared pass rushers during his playing days, featuring great speed, burst, and his lethal patented spin move that simply terrorized opposing offensive tackles. (I’m pretty sure Baltimore Ravens Hall of Fame tackle Johnathan Ogden still has nightmares of seeing #93). Freeney helped formed one of the most productive pass rushing duos in league history, along with Hall of Fame semifinalist Robert Mathis wreaking havoc on the other side.
Freeney joins a stacked 2023 pass rushing finalist group that also includes former Dallas Cowboys edge DeMarcus Ware and the Minnesota Vikings Jared Allen.
The former 2002 first round pick of the Colts finished his career with 125.5 total sacks (26th all-time) and 47 forced fumbles (3rd most all-time).
He played 11 of his 16 seasons in Indianapolis (163 of 218 career games), where he was a Super Bowl Champion, 4x NFL All-Pro, 7x NFL Pro Bowler, member of the NFL 2000s All-Decade Team, and later was inducted into the Colts franchise’s ‘Ring of Honor’.
Both men were outstanding players for the Colts and are well-deserving of such an honor.
“The Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2023 will be inducted during NFL Honors, which will take place in the days leading up to Super Bowl LVII. The Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2023 will be enshrined next August in Canton, Ohio.”