Former Patriots defensive tackle Vince Wilfork was nominated for the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Wednesday in his first year of eligibility.
Wilfork was one of 10 first-year eligible players nominated for the Hall’s modern-era class of 2022. The initial list of candidates consists of 122 players, including former Patriots wide receivers Wes Welker and Troy Brown, tight end Ben Coates, offensive guard Logan Mankins, defensive lineman Richard Seymour, linebackers Tedy Bruschi and Willie McGinest and safety Rodney Harrison.
Former Pats running backs Corey Dillon, Fred Taylor and Steven Jackson, fullback Larry Centers, wideouts Henry Ellard, Torry Holt, Chad Johnson and Reggie Wayne, offensive guard Brian Waters, cornerback Asante Samuel, safety Adrian Wilson and punter Jeff Feagles were also nominated.
The list of modern-era nominees will be reduced to 25 semifinalists in November and 15 finalists in January, before the Class of 2022 is selected shortly before Super Bowl LVI in early February.
Wilfork signed a one-day contract in Aug. 2017 so he could retire as Patriot. Wilfork won two Super Bowls and started 10 seasons over his 11-year career in New England, before playing for the Texans in 2015 and 2016. He was a widely respected leader in the Pats’ locker room and a key piece of several of the franchise’s best defenses.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick called Wilfork one of the best two-gapping defensive linemen in NFL history at his retirement press conference. Wilfork finished with 560 tackles, 16 sacks, five forced fumbles and three interceptions in 189 regular-season games.