Continuing with our look at the semifinalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame's class of 2021, we'll assess (in alphabetical order) a second batch of NFL greats.
Torry Holt (WR, 1999-2009)
Make no mistake about it, Torry Holt is one of the finest wide receivers to ever play in the NFL. The former Rams' star finished his career with 13,382 yards and is one of only five players to have amassed 1,600 yards receiving on more than one occasion.
Holt was a part of the Rams' team that went on to win Super Bowl XXXlV and has already been named to the NFL All-Decade team for the 2000s.
Calvin Johnson (WR, 2007-2015)
In 2012, Calvin "Megatron" Johnson set an NFL record for the most receiving yards in a single season with 1,964 yards. That record still stands.
The man from Georgia Tech is also a 3-time All-Pro and was voted onto the All-Decade Team for the 2010s, so it's really no surprise to see him feature in the semifinals - a true star of the game.
John Lynch (S, 1993-2007)
At the time I was first becoming interested in the NFL, John Lynch and the Tampa Bay Buccanneers were at the height of their powers.
The strong safety amassed a highlight reel of big hits during his 10-year stint in Tampa Bay and is remembered as one of the NFL's most ferocious tacklers of all time. He was still one of the best around when he left for Denver from 2004-2007 during the twilight of his career.
He helped the Bucs to Super Bowl glory in 2003 and departed the game with 26 career interceptions, 16 forced fumbles, and one hell of a reputation to his name, so it was a surprise when he didn't make it into last year's class of 2020 Hall of Fame.
Surely, 2021 is his year...
Peyton Manning (QB, 1998-2015)
What else can be said about Peyton Manning?
A legend at both the Indianapolis Colts (1998-2011) and the Denver Broncos (2012-15), "The Sheriff" laid waste to villainous defensive backs throughout his career, amassing record numbers at the quarterback position: 71,940 passing yards (now 3rd all-time due to the continued exploits of Tom Brady and Drew Brees); selected to the Pro Bowl a record 14 times, and he still holds the NFL record for the most passing touchdowns in a single season (55).
Manning tasted Super Bowl glory twice in his decorated career: once with the Colts (Super Bowl XLl) and once with the Broncos (Super Bowl 50), and is still the only QB to have won it with two different franchises.
The Hall of Fame was created for players like Peyton Manning.
Also Read: Peyton Manning’s Net Worth
Clay Matthews (LB, 1978-1996)
Clay Matthews represented the Browns during the 1980s and holds iconic status in the great city of Cleveland, but is also remembered fondly for his efforts in Atlanta with the Falcons towards the end of his NFL career.
The tough-tackling linebacker racked up 62 sacks in the brown and orange and played 232 games (2nd most games played in the history of the franchise), making 1,430 tackles.
His highlight video speaks for itself, so I'll leave you to figure out exactly what was so special about him. All I can say is, "Boom!"
Sam Mills (LB, 1986-1997)
Sam Mills might be one of the less-fancied semifinalists on this year's ballot, but the former New Orleans Saints linebacker absolutely deserves to be in the mix.
By the time he'd hung up his helmet at the Carolina Panthers, he'd racked up 20.5 career sacks and had 11 interceptions to his name. He was a key component for both sides, especially with the Saints where he was a crucial piece of the now legendary "Dome Patrol" during the late 1980s. You won't find a single NFL offensive player who wanted to play that Saints' D back then.
Mills passed away in August of 2003 after a long battle with intestinal cancer. He faced sickness and death in much the same way he faced opposing rushers and quarterbacks: with heart and courage.
Rest in Peace.
Also Read: Peyton Manning’s Net Worth, salary, endorsements and more
Richard Seymour (DE, 2001-2012)
Richard Seymour is one of the best defensive ends to have played in the NFL in the last 30 years. He spent most of his career with Tom Brady and the New England Patriots (2001-2008) and lifted the NFL's top prize, the Super Bowl, on three occasions (Super Bowls XXXVI, XXXVIII, and XXXIX).
He bowed out of the game following a short stint with the Raiders and was voted onto the NFL All-Decade Team for the 2000s shortly after his retirement.
Steve Tasker (WR/ST, 1985-97)
After leaving the Houston Oilers following his rookie year, "Gunner" Tasker went on to amass 2,159 total yards with the Buffalo Bills and was selected to the Pro Bowl seven times.
Now, the astute readers among you might be looking at those stats and thinking that things don't add up. You would be right, too.
Tasker, you see, is most famously remembered for being perhaps the NFL's greatest special teams player of all time, and is the only special teams' player I can think of who isn't famous for kick returns.
Instead, he was known for breaking up plays, launching into big hits, and causing fumbles during this often unheralded phase of the game. He might be a wildcard entry in some people's eyes, but Tasker is definitely deserving of the accolade of being named in the Hall of Fame.
Fred Taylor (RB, 1998-2010)
Fred Taylor spent a decade in sunny Jacksonville with the Jaguars before moving on to the winter's tundra of Massachusetts for a final crack at the big one with the New England Patriots, but it wasn't to be for the former Florida Gator.
His lack of a Super Bowl ring, however, should not put his possible indoctrination into the Pro Football Hall of Fame into jeopardy. Taylor finished his NFL career with 11,695 yards rushing (17th on the all-time list) and led the NFL in rushing yards per game in 2000.
Taylor is a legend to this day in the state of Florida and more than deserves to be in the discussion among NFL greats.