INDIANAPOLIS – The Indianapolis Colts-flavored trend to the Pro Football Hall of Fame shows no sign of easing.
Five former Colts’ cornerstones, led by perennial finalist Reggie Wayne and first-time eligible Robert Mathis, are among the 122 candidates for the Class of 2022. Joining them are center Jeff Saturday, tight end Dallas Clark and safety Bob Sanders. Two other candidates spent time in Indy: linebacker Cornelius Bennett and defensive end Simeon Rice.
The list will be trimmed to 25 semifinalists in November and to 15 finalists in January, and the Class of 2022 will be determined prior to Super Bowl LVI.
The heavy dose of Colts continues the franchise’s influence on the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
In August, quarterback Peyton Manning was inducted as a member of the Class of 2021 and running back Edgerrin James joined him as a member of the Class of 2020. Previously, wide receiver Marvin Harrison (Class of 2016), coach Tony Dungy (2016) and president/general manager Bill Polian (2015) had bronze busts added in Canton, Ohio.
Also, Marshall Faulk, the Colts’ 1994 first-round draft pick, was inducted with the Class of 2011 and Eric Dickerson with the Class of 1999.
Wayne and Mathis headline the team’s most recent candidates.
Wayne has reached the Final 15 in each of his two years of eligibility.
The 2001 first-round draft pick trails only Harrison in the Colts’ career receiving stats and established himself as one of the NFL’s most prolific receivers during his 14-year career. He ranks 10th all-time in both receptions (1,070) and yards (14,345). He cracked the 1,000-yard plateau eight times and led the league in 2007 with 1,510 yards.
Wayne was first-time All-Pro once and selected to the Pro Bowl six times.
Reinforcing his Hall of Fame worthiness was his postseason productivity. Wayne ranks 3rd with 93 receptions and 6th with 1,264 yards.
Mathis, meanwhile, greatly outplayed his draft status: round 5 in 2003, 138th overall. He became the Colts’ all-time sack leader with 123 during his 14-year career, a figure that ranks 27th in NFL history. Mathis led the league with a club-record 19.5 sacks in 2013 and holds the all-time league record with 54 forced fumbles.
Saturday was a mainstay on the Colts’ offensive line from 1999-2011 and selected to five Pro Bowls. Sanders was instrumental in the team’s drive to its Super Bowl XLI win over the Chicago Bears and was NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2007. Clark established himself as one of the most prolific tight ends in team history.
You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51.