GREEN BAY – Defensive backs LeRoy Butler and Charles Woodson lead a strong contingent of former Packers among the 130 modern-era nominees for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2021.
Butler, a four-time Pro Bowler and four-time first-team All-Pro selection in his 12-year Packers career (1990-2001), made it all the way to the finalist stage for induction last year for the first time after multiple years as a semifinalist. He remains the only member of the NFL's 1990s All-Decade Team not chosen for enshrinement in Canton after fellow safety Steve Atwater got the nod last year.
Woodson, a nine-time Pro Bowler and three-time first-team All-Pro pick, is eligible for the Hall for the first time, having retired five years ago.
Woodson played seven of his 18 seasons with the Packers, from 2006-12, and the rest in two stints with the Raiders. He won the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year award in 2009 with Green Bay, led the league in interceptions in both '09 and '11 (earning All-Pro both years), and owns the Packers' franchise record for interceptions returned for touchdowns in a career with nine.
Only four defensive backs in league history recorded at least 35 interceptions and 20 sacks in their careers, and Butler and Woodson are two of them. The others are Hall of Famer Brian Dawkins and Ronde Barber, a semifinalist last year.
Butler was the first player in league history to record 20 interceptions and 20 sacks in a career. Coincidentally, Butler and Woodson both intercepted 38 passes for Green Bay.
Other former Packers on the preliminary modern-era nominee list include two members of the Super Bowl XLV championship team, receiver Donald Driver and safety Nick Collins.
Kicker Ryan Longwell, who held the franchise scoring record until surpassed by Mason Crosby, is a nominee as well, along with seven players who had stops in Green Bay but played the bulk of their careers elsewhere – tight ends Wesley Walls and Keith Jackson, center Jeff Saturday, punter Sean Landeta, running back Eric Metcalf, linebacker Seth Joyner and cornerback Allen Rossum.
Former Packers linebacker Clay Matthews' father, also named Clay Matthews, is on the list once again and has been a semifinalist multiple times.
The list of modern-era nominees will be pared down to 25 semifinalist and then 15 finalists, from which a maximum of five inductees for the Class of 2021 will be chosen.
Among the first-time eligible players, along with Woodson, who could make it tough for others to crack the Class of '21 are quarterback Peyton Manning and receiver Calvin Johnson.
Here's the full list of nominees:
(italics indicate first year of eligibility; *finalist in 2020)
(8): Drew Bledsoe, Randall Cunningham, Jake Delhomme, Jeff Garcia, Dave Krieg, Peyton Manning, Donovan McNabb, Steve McNair
(17): Shaun Alexander, Mike Alstott (FB), Tiki Barber, Earnest Byner, Larry Centers, Corey Dillon, Warrick Dunn, Eddie George, Priest Holmes, Steven Jackson, Jamal Lewis, Eric Metcalf (also WR/KR/PR), Glyn Milburn (also WR/KR/PR), Lorenzo Neal (FB), Fred Taylor, Herschel Walker (also KR), Ricky Watters
(13): Donald Driver, Henry Ellard (also PR), *Torry Holt, Calvin Johnson, Chad Johnson, Derrick Mason, Muhsin Muhammad, Jimmy Smith, Rod Smith, Hines Ward, *Reggie Wayne, Wes Welker, Roddy White
(7): Dallas Clark, Ben Coates, Keith Jackson, Brent Jones, Heath Miller, Jeremy Shockey, Wesley Walls
(20): Willie Anderson (T), Matt Birk (C), *Tony Boselli (T), Lomas Brown (T), Ruben Brown (G), *Alan Faneca (G), D'Brickashaw Ferguson (T), Kevin Glover (C/G), Jordan Gross (T), Kent Hull (C), Olin Kreutz (C), Logan Mankins (G), Tom Nalen (C), Chris Samuels (T), Jeff Saturday (C), Chris Snee (G), Brian Waters (G), Richmond Webb (T), Erik Williams (T), Steve Wisniewski (G)
(15): John Abraham (DE also LB), Jared Allen (DE), Ray Childress (DT/DE), La'Roi Glover (DT/NT), Casey Hampton (DT/NT), Leslie O'Neal (DE), Michael Dean Perry (DT/DE), Simeon Rice (DE), *Richard Seymour (DT), Justin Smith (DE), Neil Smith (DE), Greg Townsend (DE/LB/DT/NT), Justin Tuck (DE), Kevin Williams (DT), *Bryant Young (DT)
(16): Cornelius Bennett, Lance Briggs, Tedy Bruschi, London Fletcher, Seth Joyner, Clay Matthews Jr., Jerod Mayo, Willie McGinest (also DE), *Sam Mills, Joey Porter, Chris Spielman, Takeo Spikes, Pat Swilling (also DE), Darryl Talley, *Zach Thomas, Patrick Willis
(18): Eric Allen (CB), Ronde Barber (CB/S), *LeRoy Butler (S), Nick Collins (S), Merton Hanks (S), Rodney Harrison (S), James Hasty (DB), Albert Lewis (CB), John Lynch (S), Tim McDonald (S), Allen Rossum (DB), Asante Samuel (DB), Bob Sanders (S), Charles Tillman (CB), Troy Vincent (CB), Adrian Wilson (S), Charles Woodson (CB/S), Darren Woodson (S)
(12): David Akers (K), Gary Anderson (K), Jason Elam (K), Jeff Feagles (P), Jason Hanson (K), John Kasay (K), Sean Landeta (P), Ryan Longwell (K), Nick Lowery (K), Reggie Roby (P), Rohn Stark (P), Matt Turk (P)
(4): Josh Cribbs (KR/PR also WR), Mel Gray (PR/KR also WR), Brian Mitchell (KR/PR also RB), Steve Tasker (ST also WR)