Several Steelers legends took the next step toward football immortality when the Pro Football Hall of Fame announced the Modern Era semifinalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2024.
Linebacker James Harrison and receiver Hines Ward are among those who will take the next step. Both are members of the Steelers Hall of Honor, with Harrison being inducted in 2023 and Ward in 2019.
Harrison, who is a semifinalist for the second straight year, was named the Associated Press NFL Defensive Player of the Year during the 2008 Super Bowl season, finishing the season with 16 sacks, a team record at the time that has since been surpassed by T.J. Watt. He was voted first-team Associated Press All-Pro twice, a Pro Bowl selection five consecutive years (2007-11) and twice voted Steelers MVP (2007-08).
His 100-yard interception return for a touchdown against the Arizona Cardinals in Super Bowl XLIII was a legendary play he will forever be remembered for. Harrison, who originally signed with the Steelers as an undrafted free agent in 2002 and played 14 seasons with the team and has 80.5 career sacks.
Ward, a semifinalist for the eighth straight year, played 14 seasons for the Steelers, after being selected in the third round of the 1998 NFL Draft. He had 1,000 career receptions for 12,083 yards and 85 touchdowns. His versatility was always on display with his blocking ability a shining example of that. Ward is a member of the Steelers Hall of Honor.
Ward was the MVP of Super Bowl XL after leading the Steelers to a 21-10 victory over the Seattle Seahawks. In three Super Bowls, Ward registered 14 receptions for 244 yards and two touchdowns. The Steelers' 2008 Walter Payton Man of the Year, Ward was named to four Pro Bowls (2002-05) and was a member of the team's 75th Season All-Time Team. Ward was selected by his teammates as the Steelers MVP three times in his career, including 2002 along with Joey Porter, 2003, and 2005 with Casey Hampton.
The next step in the selection process comes when the list is trimmed further – to 15 Modern-Era Player Finalists. That list increases to 19 Finalists overall with the inclusion of the recommended Nominees of the Hall of Fame's Coach/Contributor Committee, Buddy Parker; and its Seniors Committee, Randy Gradishar, Steve McMichael and Art Powell.
The Hall of Fame's 50-person Selection Committee will select the Class of 2024 in advance of Super Bowl LVIII in Las Vegas. The class will be announced live on the "NFL Honors" telecast scheduled to air Feb. 8. While there is no set number for any class of enshrinees, the bylaws for the Selection Committee provide that between four and nine new members will be selected.