The Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2023 was revealed Thursday night at NFL Honors, three days before Super Bowl LVII.
Below are the members of the Class of 2023:
Ronde Barber: The only player with more than 40 interceptions and 25 sacks in his NFL career is the latest entry into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Barber is a Buccaneers legend, the franchise's all-time leader in interceptions (47) and defensive touchdowns (12) after spending the entirety of his 16-year career in Tampa Bay. A prominent piece of the Bucs' historic Super Bowl champion defense in 2002, Barber is also a member of the 2000s All-Decade Team, as well as a five-time Pro Bowler and a three-time first-team All-Pro. Sharing the spotlight with his twin brother and former All-Pro and Pro Bowler himself, Tiki, Ronde stood out as one of just two players since the turn of the millennium (HOF DB Charles Woodson) with more than 1,000 tackles and 40 interceptions. His 47 career picks and 28 career sacks in 241 games played weren't enough to get him into Canton on the first or fifth ballot. But in his sixth year of eligibility and his third straight as a finalist, Barber is finally in.
Darrelle Revis: The preeminent cornerback of his generation is a first-ballot Hall of Famer. Revis, a four-time first-team All-Pro, starred on one of the toughest defenses of his era, the Rex Ryan-led Jets of the 2010s. The CB's prowess for shutting down marquee receivers one-on-one during New York's 2009 march to one of two straight AFC title games earned him the moniker "Revis Island." His 95 passes defensed during his first five seasons in the NFL are the most by any player since the stat was first tracked in 1991, and his 31 PDs in that historic '09 season is tied for the third-most in a single campaign. Alas, Revis finished second in voting for the Defensive Player of the Year that season to Charles Woodson. The star corner left the Jets in 2013 for Tampa Bay, then to the rival Patriots in 2014, where he won his first and only Super Bowl title. Revis returned to the Jets in 2015 and wrapped up his career with the Chiefs in 2017, finishing with 29 interceptions and 139 PDs. Already a member of the 2010s All-Decade team, Revis will now be honored as one of football's all-time greats.
Joe Thomas: Cleveland's ironman is headed to Canton. Thomas, the third-overall pick in 2007, started 167 straight games for the Browns at left tackle, making 10 Pro Bowls and earning six first-team All-Pro honors. But the jolly giant, who logged a likely record 10,363 consecutive offensive snaps for Cleveland, didn't play a single one in the postseason. Thomas was a stalwart on the Browns' offense amid major coaching and quarterback turnover; the blindside blocker played with 22 different QBs, including 20 starters, in his 11-year career. Regardless of the Browns' poor performance on the field, Thomas remained excellent, becoming one of just five players in NFL history to make the Pro Bowl in each of his first 10 seasons. Now, in his first year of eligibility, Thomas is trading in his well-worn Browns apparel for a gold jacket.
Zach Thomas: In his 10th year of eligibility and fourth straight as a finalist, Thomas has finally made it to Canton. A fifth-round pick by the Dolphins in 1996, Thomas was one of the toughest linebackers of his era out of the gate, coming in second in Defensive Rookie of the Year voting to Simeon Rice. The 5-foot-11 stalwart recorded 1,181 tackles in the 2000s, the third-most in the league behind the great London Fletcher and Ray Lewis. Miami's defensive captain during the Dolphins' transition out of the Dan Marino era, Thomas logged 168 starts in his 12 years with the franchise, reaching seven Pro Bowls and earning five first-team All-Pro nods. Thomas wrapped up his career with one season in Dallas in 2008, finishing with 20.5 sacks, 17 interceptions, four pick-sixes and 1,734 career tackles, the fifth-most all time. Already regarded as a prolific tackler and member of the 2000s All-Decade Team, Thomas will now be forever remembered as a Hall of Famer.
DeMarcus Ware: One of the fiercest pass rushers of his era, Ware had to wait just two years before his enshrinement into the Hall of Fame. The former Cowboys and Broncos standout was already a nine-time Pro Bowler, four-time first-team All-Pro and member of the 2000s All-Decade Team, but now Ware can call himself one of the sport's greatest-ever players. His 138.5 career sacks are the ninth-most in NFL history and the third-most in the 21st century. Drafted in the first round by Dallas in 2005, Ware's 117 sacks for the Cowboys are also the most in that franchise's storied history. However, the pass rusher's true crowning achievement came with another franchise. Ware followed Peyton Manning to Denver in 2014, and the very next season Ware helped quarterback the Broncos defense to a Super Bowl title. The pass rusher logged two sacks of Cam Newton in Denver's Super Bowl 50 shutdown of the Panthers, securing his first and only Lombardi Trophy.
Don Coryell: The architect of one of the game's most famous offenses is finally in Canton. Coryell, who passed away in 2010, enters Canton as the lone coach/contributor finalist of the Class of 2023. The offensive innovator was head coach of the Cardinals and Chargers for a combined 14 seasons, racking up a 111-83-1 record with six playoff appearances. Coryell won Coach of the Year honors in 1974 with the Cards and then made a name for himself with Dan Fouts and the Bolts. Employing the "Air Coryell" attack, which leaned on a vertical passing game, the coach led San Diego to consecutive title game appearances in 1980 and 1981. Coryell's Chargers offenses led the league in passing in seven of his eight seasons there. Coryell was previously a HOF finalist on six separate occasions and inducted Fouts in 1993. Now Coryell, already a College Football Hall of Famer for his work at San Diego State, is a Pro Football Hall of Famer.
Chuck Howley: One of the Cowboys' first stars, Howley will now be fitted for a gold jacket. A first-round pick of the Bears in 1958, the linebacker spent 13 seasons in Dallas, helping turn the start-up franchise into America's Team. Howley was a five-time first-team All-Pro and a six-time Pro Bowler and won Super Bowl VI with Dallas. But he is oft remembered for being named Super Bowl MVP of a game the Cowboys lost, Super Bowl V against the Colts, in which he logged two picks. To this day, Howley is the only player to earn Super Bowl MVP honors in a losing effort. One of three senior finalists to make the Class of 2023, Howley now joins former teammates Roger Staubach, Bob Lilly, Mel Renfro and Bob Hayes in the Hall of Fame, as well as the men who brought him to Dallas, legendary Cowboys coach Tom Landry and executive Tex Schramm.
Joe Klecko: A member of The New York Sack Exchange is officially in the Hall of Fame. Klecko, who along with Jets teammates Mark Gastineau, Marty Lyons and Abdul Salaam terrorized quarterbacks in the 1980s, enters Canton as a senior finalist. A revered member of Gang Green for all but one season of his 12-year career, Klecko went from a sixth-round pick in 1977 to NFL sack leader (20.5) in 1981. The pass rusher earned the first of his two first-team All-Pro nods and finished second in Defensive Player of the Year voting behind fellow New York pass rusher Lawrence Taylor that season, only to miss most of the 1982 campaign with a knee injury. Klecko, equally adept at defensive end or tackle, finished his career following the 1988 season with an unofficial total of 78 sacks in 155 games played. A four-time Pro Bowler, Klecko was previously nominated for the Hall on multiple occasions but was never inducted. That changes in 2023.
Ken Riley: One of the great original Bengals, Riley is finally a Hall of Famer. A sixth-round pick of Cincinnati in 1969, the franchise's second year of existence, the defensive back played all 15 years of his career with the Bengals. Riley earned his lone first-team All-Pro honor in 1983, his final season in the NFL, but was one of the game's great ballhawks well before then. Riley had at least one interception in every season of his career, finishing with 65, currently tied for fifth-most in NFL history behind Hall of Famers Paul Krause, Emlen Tunnell, Rod Woodson and Night Train Lane. Riley, who died in 2020, was posthumously inducted to the Bengals Ring of Honor as part of its inaugural class and will now, at long last, live forever in the halls of Canton.