Photo: Keith Allison

The Pro Football Hall of Fame released its list of nominees for the Hall of Fame Class of 2021 on Wednesday.

The list of 130 nominees includes seven who played at HBCUs and include Steve McNair (Alcon State), Albert Lewis (Grambling State), Donald Driver (Alcorn State), Jimmy Smith (Jackson State), Ben Coates (Livingstone), Nick Collins (Bethune-Cookman), and Erik Williams (Central State).

McNair, arguably the greatest to ever play on “The Reservation,” played quarterback for 13 seasons in the NFL (11 with the Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans) and passed for over 31,000 career yards for 174 touchdowns.

Lewis, a cornerback, was a 1983 third-round draft pick of the Kansas City Chiefs. After 11 seasons in Kansas City (1983-1993), he joined the Oakland Raiders, where he played for five more seasons (1994-1998). For his career, he is credited with 832 tackles, 42 interceptions, and one touchdown.

Driver, a wide receiver, played all 14 seasons of his NFL career with the Green Bay Packers. He was drafted in the seventh round in 1999 before recording 61 receiving touchdowns on 743 catches.

Smith, a wide receiver, was a second-round draft pick of the Dallas Cowboys in 1992 but played for the Jacksonville Jaguars for 11 seasons (1995-2005). Throughout his career, he amassed 862 receptions for 12,287 receiving yards and 67 touchdowns.

Coates is known mostly for the nine seasons he spent as a tight end with the New England Patriots (1991-1999), before concluding his career with the Baltimore Ravens in 2000. He finished his career with 499 receptions totaling 5,555 yards and 50 touchdowns.

Number of HBCU players in NFL Hall of Fame increases with recent class

Collins was the 51st pick of the Green Bay Packers, where he played for seven seasons as a safety. Currently a member of the Packers Hall of Fame, he ended his career with 21 interceptions, six forced fumbles, and four defensive touchdowns.

Williams, a third-round pick of the Dallas Cowboys, played ten seasons (1991-2000) with the franchise before a one-year stint with the Baltimore Ravens (2001) as an offensive tackle. Of the 146 games he played throughout his career, he was a starter in 133 of them.

The list of nominees will be reduced to 25 semifinalists in November before it is reduced to 15 finalists in January.

Editors Note: This story was updated to include an additional HBCU candidate nominated for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The number changed from six to a total of seven.


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