The Pro Football Hall of Fame announced its list of modern-era nominees for the Class of 2020 on Thursday and it included several former members of the Cleveland Browns.
Most notable among the group are linebacker Clay Matthews and kick returner Josh Cribbs. Matthews has been a semifinalist on multiple occasions, while this is the first time that Cribbs has been nominated.
The modern era players list, which includes 122 players, will be cut to 25 in November and then to 15 in January. Those 15 finalists will be voted on by the hall’s 48-member selection committee, and five of them will make up a special 2020 class of 20 members - five modern era players, 10 Seniors, three contributors and two coaches, according to NFL.com.
There is also a fan vote, although that news is ruined a bit by the Pro Football Hall of Fame using a photo of former Pittsburgh Steeler safety Troy Polamalu. (UPDATED with a more appropriate photo):
During his 16 seasons with the Browns (1978 to 1993), Matthews posted 76.5 sacks - still the franchise career record - 1,430 tackles, 14 interceptions and 24 forced fumbles, according to the team’s website. He also made the Pro Bowl four times, with three consecutive trips from 1987 to 1989 as a key part of a Browns team that made the playoffs five consecutive years.
Cribbs joined the Browns as an undrafted free agent out of Kent State in 2005 and spent eight years with the team. He was a three-time Pro Bowl selection with the Browns, and finished his career tied for third in NFL history with 13,488 career return yards, third in kickoff return yards (11,113) and fifth in career return touchdowns (11), according to clevelandbrowns.com.
Other prominent Browns players making a repeat appearance as nominees include running back Earnest Byner and running back Eric Metcalf.
Byner played for the Browns from 1984 to 1988, and again from 1994 to 1995. He had 2,713 rushing yards and 2,034 receiving yards for the Browns, and finished his 14-year career with 8,261 rushing yards, 4,605 receiving yards and 71 touchdowns, according to the team’s website.
Metcalf played for the Browns from 1989 to 1994, making the Pro Bowl in both 1993 and 1994. He rushed for 2,229 yards, had 2,732 receiving yards and a combined 26 touchdowns on offense and had another seven touchdowns on kick and punt returns with the Browns, according to the team’s website. Metcalf played 13 seasons, making three Pro Bowls and earning a pair of All-Pro nods.
The full list of modern-day nominees is available at NFL.com.