The Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2020 has been announced and the modern era candidates include Steve Atwater, Isaac Bruce, Steve Hutchinson, Edgerrin James, and Troy Polamalu. Pro Football Network Insider Ben Allbright had been working to confirm all of these before they were officially announced at the NFL Honors Show on February 1. They will be joined by 15 Centennial members, which is headlined by Bill Cowher, Jimmy Johnson, Steve Sabol, and Paul Tagliabue. This class will now be inducted into the Hall of Fame the weekend of August 6-9, 2020.
After being drafted in the first round of the 1989 NFL Draft, safety Steve Atwater played most of his career with the Denver Broncos, with the exception of his final year, which was with the New York Jets. During his time with the Broncos, he made a name for himself by delivering fierce blows to his opponents. He was an eight-time Pro Bowl selection and two-time Super Bowl champion.
Atwater was inducted to the Broncos’ Ring of Fame in 2005. He was among 27 modern-era semifinalists in 2012 and had been a semifinalist as well. In 2016, he made the finalist list before being voted into the Hall of Fame in 2020.
In addition to his accolades above, he was named a 2x First-team All-Pro, a second-team All-Pro, a 2x UPI First Team All-AFC, and a member of the NFL 1990s All-Decade Team. He had 1,180 tackles, 24 interceptions, and 5 sacks.
After being drafted in the second round of the 1994 NFL Draft, wide receiver Isaac Bruce played 14 years for the Los Angeles/St. Louis Rams and two years with the San Francisco 49ers. During his time with the Rams, he was part of the Greatest Show on Turf, who defeated the Tennessee Titans in Super Bowl XXXIV. Bruce is an All-Pro and four-time Pro Bowl selection.
In 1995, he totaled 119 catches for 1,781 yards, which was only second to Jerry Rice’s record of 1,848 yards in a single season. Currently, this is the fifth most in a single season. Bruce’s 119 catches that season also ranks twelfth on the NFL’s all-time single-season reception list. Throughout that season, he continued to break other Rams’ records, including most receiving yards, most receptions, most consecutive 100-yard receiving games (6) and most 100-yard games (9).
In 2008, Bruce was released from the Rams and signed with the 49ers. After that season, he contemplated retirement but decided to return in 2009 for his 16th season. In 2012, he was traded back to the Rams so he could retire as part of the organization that drafted him. He finished his NFL career with 1,024 receptions for 15,208 receiving yards, which puts him at fifth all-time amongst all wide receivers in NFL history. He averaged 14.9 yards per reception and caught 91 touchdowns.
After being drafted in the first round of the 2001 NFL Draft, offensive guard Steve Hutchinson played five seasons for the Seattle Seahawks, six years with the Minnesota Vikings, and his final season with the Tennessee Titans. Hutchinson was a seven-time Pro Bowl selection and was regarded as one of the best offensive linemen in the league during his time in the NFL.
During his time with the Seahawks, Hutchinson was named to the Pro Bowl three times and earned three All-Pro honors. He was also an integral part of the offensive line who blocked for running back Shaun Alexander in his 2005 MVP season. That running game, which was helped by the offensive line, sprung the Seahawks to an appearance in Super Bowl XL, where they lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Hutchinson would then go on to sign a controversial offer sheet that season from the Vikings. The contract, which was worth $49 million over seven years, contained a poison pill that would have guaranteed his entire salary if he was not the highest-paid lineman on the team. Since the Seahawks had just signed offensive tackle Walter Jones to a larger contract, they could not afford to sign Hutchinson. However, Seattle fought back and signed Vikings WR Nate Burleson to an offer sheet containing a similar tactic. Because of this, the NFL banned poison pills from future contracts.
On March 11, 2013, Hutchinson announced his retirement and became eligible for the Hall of Fame for the first time in 2018.
After being drafted in the first round of the 1999 NFL Draft, running back Edgerinn James played seven seasons for the Indianapolis Colts, three seasons for the Arizona Cardinals, and his final season for the Seattle Seahawks. During his time in the NFL, he was named the AP NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, earned four Pro Bowl selections, and four All-Pro selections. He was also named to the NFL 2000s All-Decade Team.
During his time with the Colts, James broke several franchise records. He finished with the most career rushing yards (9,266), most career rushing touchdowns (64), best career rushing yards per game average (96.1), most rushing yards in a single season (1,709), and most seasons with 1,000 rushing yards (5). On September 23, 2012, James was inducted into the Indianapolis Colts Ring of Honor.
James finished his career ranked 13th on the all-time rushing list and a member of the 10,000 yards rushing club. He amassed 12,246 rushing yards, averaging 4 yards per carry. He had 80 rushing touchdowns and added in 433 receptions, 3,364 receiving yards, and 11 receiving touchdowns.
After being drafted in the first round of the 2003 NFL Draft, safety Troy Polamalu played for 12 years with Pittsburgh Steelers – his entire NFL career. He was a member of two of the Steelers’ Super Bowl championship teams and was the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2010. Other honors include him being named to the Pro Bowl eight times and being selected six times as an All-Pro.
In 2005, Polamalu helped lead the Steelers to a Super Bowl victory over the Seattle Seahawks. That season, he set the NFL record for the most sacks by a safety in a single game against the Houston Texans, where he recorded three. Polamalu finished the 2005 season with 91 total tackles, six pass deflections, and two interceptions.
On April 10, 2015, Polamalu announced his retirement from the NFL, although some say it was forced. Reports state that he was told by Steelers front office staff and owner Dan Rooney that if he did not retire, he would be released. He received an offer from the Tennessee Titans, but ultimately decided to call it a career. He finished his 12-year career with 770 tackles, 32 interceptions, and three touchdowns.
On January 2, 2020, Polamalu was named one of 15 modern-era finalists for election into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He and Indianapolis Colts receiver Reggie Wayne were the only two finalists for 2020 to be nominated in their first year of eligibility.