INDIANAPOLIS — Seven Indianapolis Colts greats are among the 129 players on the ballot for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame this year.
Six of the seven former Colts on the ballot were members of the team's Super Bowl XLI championship. Wide receiver Reggie Wayne heads the list, having been a finalist for induction each of his first three years on the ballot, but never getting the final call to Canton. He finished his career with 14,345 receiving yards and 82 touchdowns.
Defensive ends Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney are also eligible as part of the modern era ballot. Mathis was a semifinalist last year, his first year on the ballot, while Freeney is a nominee for the first time. Freeney made seven Pro Bowls and was named to the first-team AP All-Pro three times. he recorded 125 1/2 sacks in his careers. Mathis recorded a Colts-record 123 sacks, made five Pro Bowls and was named first-team AP All-Pro in 2013.
A third member of the Super Bowl-winning defense, safety Bob Sanders, who was the 2007 AP Defensive Player of the Year, is also on the ballot.
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Tight end Dallas Clark and center Jeff Saturday round out the group of six. Clark caught 427 passes for 4,887 yards and 46 touchdowns with Indianapolis and was first-team AP All-Pro in 2009. Saturday was named to six Pro Bowls and twice was named to the first-team AP All Pro.
'How does that even happen?'
Also on the ballot is punter Pat McAfee, who kicked for the Colts from 2009-2016, earning two Pro Bowl selections, along with being named first-team All-Pro in 2014.
McAfee got the news while livestreaming his daily YouTube show and responded with both shock and humility.
"I did not play long enough to deserve that. How does that even happen?" he said, while voicing support for former Raiders and Texans punter Shane Lechler.
(NOTE: The video below contains language some viewers may find offensive.)
While in disbelief over his nomination, McAfee did thank the committee for their consideration.
"I obviously do not believe I deserve it, but somebody did and put me on there. Thank you, I appreciate it. That's (expletive) cool, that's awesome. Probably won't happen, shouldn't happen, but the fact that conversation even took place, I appreciate it," he said.
More former Colts on the ballot
Other players on the ballot who spent some time with Indianapolis include wide receivers Andre Johnson and Andre Rison, defensive and Simeon Rice, linebacker Cornelius Bennett and cornerback Antonio Cromartie.
The Pro Football Hall of Fame will announced 25 semifinalists out of the 129 nominees on the modern era ballot in November. The list will be trimmed to 15 finalists in early January, with the Class of 2023 announced in the following weeks, before Super Bowl LVII in February.
The final five candidates will need to get 80% of the votes from the panel to get into the Hall.
The roster of nominees consists of 67 offensive players, 50 defensive players and 12 special teamers.
Finalists from 2022 re-nominated for next year are defensive end Jared Allen, tackle Willie Anderson, defensive back Ronde Barber, returner Devin Hester, receivers Wayne and Johnson, along with Torry Holt; linebackers Zach Thomas and Patrick Willis; and edge rusher DeMarcus Ware.
The committee will also consider former Chargers and Cardinals coach Don Coryell in the coaching category and three senior candidates: Super Bowl V MVP Chuck Howley and All-Pro defenders Joe Klecko and Ken Riley.
They also will get in if they get support from at least 80% of voters in January.
(The Associated Press contributed to this story.)