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Pro Football Hall of Fame 2021 class: Peyton Manning, Calvin Johnson, Charles Woodson make it on first ballot

Terez Paylor
·Senior NFL writer
·4 min read
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There seemed to be just two certainties in the 2021 Pro Football Hall of Fame class — Peyton Manning and Charles Woodson — and one likelihood in receiver Calvin Johnson.

Those all came to be, as the decorated, Super Bowl-winning quarterback, generational defensive back and dominant receiver nicknamed “Megatron” were announced as the latest greats to have their bust enshrined in Canton.

Manning, Woodson and Johnson all achieved rare status as first-ballot Hall of Famers, an honor bestowed upon only 25 percent of the Hall’s non-charter members entering this season.

But they aren’t the only ones entering football immortality this year, as they joined two more modern-era inductees and one inductee each from the senior, contributor and coach committees.

Here’s a look at the HOF Class of 2021:

QB Peyton Manning, Indianapolis Colts 1998-2011, Denver Broncos 2012-15

Former Colts and Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning, widely considered one of the greatest NFL players of all time, is now a first-ballot Pro Football Hall of Famer. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Former Colts and Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning, widely considered one of the greatest NFL players of all time, is now a first-ballot Pro Football Hall of Famer. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Manning, 44, is one of the most decorated quarterbacks of his era. A two-time Super Bowl champion, Super Bowl MVP and five-time MVP, Manning also won Offensive Player of the Year twice, Comeback Player of the Year and Walter Payton Man of the Year.

Manning was a 14-time Pro Bowler and 10-time All-Pro who led the league in passing three times and touchdowns four times on the way to making the NFL 2000s All-Decade Team. His number has been retired with the Colts and the Broncos and he completed 65.3 percent of his passes for 71,940 yards, 539 touchdowns and 251 interceptions.

WR Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions 2007-2015

Johnson, 35, was affectionately nicknamed “Megatron” for his massive size and rare gifts. The six-time Pro Bowler and four-time All-Pro twice led the NFL in receiving yards, once led the NFL in receptions, and once led the NFL in receiving touchdowns before retiring due to his frustration with the Lions.

Johnson’s 1,964 receiving yards in 2012 remains an NFL record, and he notched 731 receptions, 11,619 yards and 83 touchdowns in 135 games.

Charles Woodson won a Super Bowl with Green Bay and spent many years as a great defensive back with the Oakland Raiders. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Charles Woodson won a Super Bowl with Green Bay and spent many years as a great defensive back with the Oakland Raiders. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

CB/S Charles Woodson, Oakland Raiders 1998-2005 & 2013-15, Green Bay Packers 2006-2012

Arguably the most gifted cornerback in his era, Woodson, 44, was a Super Bowl champion and nine-time Pro Bowler who was All-Pro eight times. He also won Defensive Player of the Year, Defensive Rookie of the Year and twice led the NFL in interceptions before making the NFL 2000s All-Decade team. For his career, he notched 1,105 tackles, 20 sacks, 65 interceptions and 13 defensive touchdowns in 254 games.

G Alan Faneca, Pittsburgh Steelers 1998-2007, New York Jets 2008-09, Arizona Cardinals 2010

Faneca, 44, is a Super Bowl champion, nine-time Pro Bowler and an eight-time All-Pro who played in 206 games and was arguably the best guard of his generation. Faneca made the NFL 2000s All-Decade Team and is a member of the Steelers’ All-Time Team.

SS John Lynch, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 1993-2003, Denver Broncos 2004-07

Prior to becoming the general manager of the 49ers, the 49-year-old Lynch was a Super Bowl champion, nine-time Pro Bowler and four-time All-Pro selection as a player who is also a member of the Bucs’ Ring of Honor and Broncos’ Ring of Fame. Lynch finished his career with 1,058 tackles, 13 sacks and 26 interceptions in 224 games.

WR Drew Pearson, Dallas Cowboys 1973-1983

Pearson, 70, was put forth as a senior nominee and approved by the 48-member selection committee by at least 80 percent. Pearson is a Super Bowl champion and three-time first-team All-Pro who made the NFL’s 1970s All-Decade Team and is a member of the Cowboys’ Ring of Honor.

Coach Tom Flores, Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders 1979-1987, Seattle Seahawks 1992-1994

Flores, 83, was put forth by the coach committee and approved by the 48-member selection committee by at least 80 percent. Flores, who posted a career record of 105-90, is a two-time Super Bowl winner as a head coach and the the first minority head coach in NFL history to lead a team to a title.

Scout Bill Nunn, Pittsburgh Steelers 1968-2013

Nunn, who died in 2014 at the age of 90, was put forth by the contributor committee. Nunn played a vital role in building the Steelers’ dynasty of the 1970s, as his strong knowledge of Historically Black Colleges and Universities helped the Steelers land Hall of Famers like John Stallworth, Mel Blount and Donnie Shell and others.

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