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Former Packers safety LeRoy Butler, cornerback Charles Woodson named Hall of Fame finalists

Pete Dougherty
Packers News

GREEN BAY - Former Green Bay Packers greats LeRoy Butler and Charles Woodson are among the 15 modern-era finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s class of 2021.

The two standout defensive backs will have their cases discussed at the Hall of Fame’s selectors meeting sometime before the Super Bowl. A maximum of five of the 15 modern-era candidates will be voted into the Hall during that meeting.

Butler also was a finalist last year, so this is his second time among the final 15. Woodson became eligible for the Hall of Fame for the first time this year.

The rest of the modern-era finalists list includes three other players in their first year of eligibility: quarterback Peyton Manning, receiver Calvin Johnson and defensive end Jared Allen.

Former Packers safety LeRoy Butler is a Hall of Fame finalist for the second straight year.

The others, listed in order of times they’ve been a finalist, are safety John Lynch (eighth time), guard Alan Faneca (sixth), tackle Tony Boselli (fifth), defensive lineman Richard Seymour (third), receiver Torry Holt (second), linebacker Sam Mills (second), receiver Reggie Wayne (second), linebacker Zach Thomas (second), cornerback Ronde Barber (first) and linebacker Clay Matthews Jr. (first).

Matthews is the father of former Packers outside linebacker Clay Matthews.

Woodson ranks among the best defensive backs in NFL history and appears to be a lock for induction in his first year of eligibility. He played seven of his 18 years in the NFL with the Packers, including in 2009, when he was named the NFL’s defensive player of the year. He also was voted to the 2000s all-decade team, was first-team All-Pro four times and named to nine Pro Bowls.

Butler was a semifinalist (final 25) for the first time two years ago and a finalist for the first time last year, so the 48-member selection committee will hear and discuss his case for the second time.

After Steve Atwater was voted in last year, Butler remains the lone player from the 1990s all-decade first team not in the Hall. Butler was named first-team All-Pro four times and is one of only four players (and two safeties) in league history with at least 35 interceptions (he had 38) and 20 sacks (20½). The others are Hall of Fame safety Brian Dawkins (37 and 26), Woodson (65 and 20) and Barber (47 and 28).

Packers cornerback Charles Woodson returns a punt during an Oct. 30, 2006, game against the Cardinals at Lambeau Field.

Aside from Woodson, Manning is a lock to make the Hall this year as a first-time eligible, and Johnson might have a shot in his first year as well. Only 64 players have been voted in on the first year they were eligible.

So that will leave two or three spots for the remaining candidates. Matthews is in his final year of eligibility before he’ll go into the Seniors category.

During the meeting the committee will hear a presentation on each of the candidates and then cut the list to 10, and then have another vote to cut the list to five. The final five will then get an up or down vote, with a minimum of 80 percent positive votes required to get in.

Aside from the 15 modern-era finalists, this year’s class includes a finalist from the Seniors, Coach and Contributors categories. These three are chosen by selector subcommittees and go immediately to an up or down vote, again with the 80 percent threshold required for induction. The three this year are Drew Pearson (Seniors), Tom Flores (Coach) and Bill Nunn (Contributor).