DENVER — Before Peyton Manning can receive his ultimate individual award, he must pass through some obligations.
The former Broncos quarterback – the No. 1 slam dunk in the Pro Football Hall of Fame class of 2021 – first received his obligatory nod as top 25 Pro Football Hall of Fame modern-era semifinalist, it was announced Tuesday.
Manning, who led the Broncos to two Super Bowl appearances in his four seasons in Denver, joins defensive back Charles Woodson and receiver Calvin Johnson as first-ballot candidates who have a strong chance of getting elected when voters convene, either in person or by Zoom, in Tampa on Saturday, February 6, the eve of Super Bowl LV.
Also making the cut to the 25 HOF modern-era semifinalists were former Broncos safety John Lynch and Boulder native Tony Boselli. Lynch has made it to top 15 finalist the previous seven consecutive years. As Lynch spent 11 of his 15 seasons with the Tampa Bay Bucs, hometown sentiment may help the safety finally cross into the stratosphere of football immortality.
Boselli, who had a relatively short but highly decorated career as a left tackle for the Jacksonville Jaguars, has been a top 15 finalist the previous four consecutive years.
Rod Smith and Tom Nalen head the group of former Broncos who were among the 130 modern-era players nominated for the Hall of Fame but didn’t make the cut to the 25 semifinalists. Also left out were Wes Welker, Neil Smith, Jason Elam and Simeon Rice.
The 25 semifinalists: Eric Allen, Jared Allen, Willie Anderson, Ronde Barber, Cornelius Bennett, Boselli, LeRoy Butler, Alan Faneca, Rodney Harrison, Torry Holt, Johnson, Lynch, Manning, Clay Matthews Jr., Sam Mills, Richard Seymour, Steve Tasker, Fred Taylor, Zach Thomas, Hines Ward, Reggie Wayne, Patrick Willis, Charles Woodson, Darren Woodson and Bryant Young.
Manning is the clear headliner. He retired after guiding the Broncos to their Super Bowl 50 title in 2015 as the all-time leading passer with 539 touchdown passes and 71,940 yards. He is not third in each of those categories as he passed by Drew Brees and Tom Brady.
Manning also retired second all-time to Brett Favre in completions and to Steve Young in passer rating.
After playing 13 years and winning one Super Bowl for the Indianapolis Colts, Manning missed the entire 2011 season with a neck injury, then was released to free agency, where he signed with the Broncos. He set single-season records that still stand with 55 touchdown passes and 5,477 passing yards in 2013, when he led the Broncos to the AFC Championship and Super Bowl 48 in New York.
During Manning’s four seasons in Denver, the Broncos posted regular-season records of 13-3, 13-3, 12-4 and 12-4.
The Broncos have not made the playoffs in the five years since Manning retired.
SUGGESTED VIDEOS | Sports