The Pro Football Hall of Fame announced a pool of 173 modern-era nominees on Tuesday. Those 2024 class candidates will be boiled down to 25 semifinalists by November, when their merits will be inspected under much stronger microscopes. Among the 173 nominees are nine first-time candidates, the only players in the group who have a chance at being “first-ballot” Hall of Famers.
The Packers are well represented in that collection of nine players, with receiver Jordy Nelson, guard Josh Sitton, guard T.J. Lang and edge defender Julius Peppers making the cut. Notable non-Packers who are first-ballot options are tight end Antonio Gates and nose tackle Haloti Ngata.
Nelson and Sitton have already been inducted in the Packers’ Hall of Fame, though, Lang and Peppers still have to wait their turn.
Nelson recorded 613 receptions for 8,587 yards and 72 touchdowns through the air during his NFL career and played for the Packers from 2008 to 2017. He was voted as a Pro Bowler a single time in 2014, the same year that he was named a Second-Team All-Pro.
Sitton and Lang played guard together from 2009 to 2015. In total, the two offensive linemen combined for 280 games played with 255 starts between them. Sitton was named a Pro Bowler three times as a Packers and once as a Chicago Bears. He was also named an All-Pro three times, all with Green Bay. Lang made a Pro Bowl in his final season (2016) with the Packers and his first season (2017) with the Detroit Lions.
If I had to guess, Nelson, Sitton and Lang all fall under the category of “the Hall of Very Good” — players that Packers fans will remember but won’t be recognized by the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
The player who has first-ballot potential is Peppers, the former second-overall pick of the 2002 draft who recorded 159.5 sacks during his NFL career. In total, Peppers was named an All-Pro six times, a Pro Bowler nine times and made both the 2000s and 2010s All-Decade Team. While he only played three seasons with the Packers, and will probably be best remembered for his stretch in Carolina, Peppers was able to register 25 sacks in his time in Green Bay. Later this season, Peppers is scheduled to be inducted into the Panthers’ Hall of Honor.