Steve McMichael is already part of NFL lore as a member of the 1985 Bears historically dominant defense. He is now one step away from joining several of his former teammates as a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
The longtime Bears defensive tackle is one of three senior finalists for induction next summer in Canton, Ohio. Former Denver Broncos linebacker Randy Gradishar and former AFL star wideout Art Powell were also named as finalists. Each member will need 80% of the vote from the selection committee in order to earn induction. The committee will vote on next year's induction class in early 2024.
One of the best defensive linemen of his era, McMichael never missed a start due to injury over his 15-year career. He played in a whopping 227 games (including a franchise-record 191 games with the Bears) and was an integral part of a Bears defense that led Chicago to the franchise's first Super Bowl win at the end of the 1985 season. His 95 career sacks rank fourth all time for defensive tackles and he led the Bears in sacks seven times.
If elected, McMichael would join former Bears teammates Dan Hampton, Mike Singletary, Richard Dent, Jimbo Covert and Walter Payton in Canton.
Like McMichael, Gradishar was a key member of an iconic defense. He led the Broncos' famed "Orange Crush" defense that spearheaded the Broncos' first AFC championship in 1977. A complete linebacker, Gradishar won Defensive Player of the Year the following season after recording three interceptions, three sacks and four fumble recoveries. He earned seven Pro Bowl selections during his decade-long career in Denver that included three six Pro Bowl nods over a seven-year span.
Initially a defensive back, Powell became one of pro football's most feared pass-catchers during the 1960s. During his first year at receiver, Powell led the AFL with 14 touchdowns in 14 games. He paced the league in receiving yards in consecutive years and in 1963 he led the AFL in both receiving yards (1,304) and touchdown receptions (16). His 81 career touchdowns are tied for 30th in NFL history alongside former Carolina Panthers legend Steve Smith Sr. and current Buccaneers wideout Mike Evans.
The selection committee also voted on the candidacy of nine other senior players: quarterback Ken Anderson, linebacker Maxie Baughan, running back Roger Craig, offensive lineman Joe Jacoby, defensive backs Albert Lewis and Eddie Meador, receivers Sterling Sharpe and Otis Taylor, and offensive lineman Al Wistert.
The Hall of Fame's coach/contributor committee recently tabbed former Lions and Steelers coach Buddy Parker as its finalist for induction next summer. Next year's class will also include modern-era inductees that will also be voted on early next year. Among the possible modern-era candidates who will be eligible for the first time include former pass rusher Julius Peppers and former tight end Antonio Gates.