We are reader supported. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Also, as an Amazon affiliate, we earn from qualifying purchases.
The Pro Football Hall of Fame is chock full of superstars, along with coaches and club personnel and officials who helped the league grow over more than a century. Some clubs have been around since the beginning in 1920 ~ and therefore send many players to the Hall. Who sends the most players?
The Chicago Bears have the most players in the NFL’s Hall of Fame, with 30, followed by the Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers, which each sent 26 of its players to the famous Hall in Canton, Ohio.
The Chicago Bears were among the 14 original clubs of the National Football League at its inception in 1920. Of those, only the Bears and Cardinals (from Chicago to St. Louis to Phoenix today) were there at the start. The Green Bay Packers joined a year later.
The Bears enjoyed decent success right from the start, finishing 2nd in 3 of the league’s first 7 seasons, and consistently placing near the top of the standings during a period before championship games or even playoffs were established. The best record won the championship back then.
It took until 1932 for the Bears to win an NFL championship. However, from there they remained a powerhouse for several decades, into the 1960s, winning 9 league championships in all.
That long period of success meant the franchise had many exemplary players, coaches, and administrators over the years. On top of the 30 players, the franchise also sent 7 non-players to the Hall, also making them the top Hall feeder.
Some of the more well-known names include player-coach-team owner George “Papa Bear” Halas, name is linked greatly with the Bears franchise; running backs Walter Payton and Gale Sayers; linebackers Dick Butkus and Mike Singletary; Mike Ditka; Richard Dent; George Blanda; Bronko Nagursky; Sid Luckman; Red Grange; and, most recently, linebacker Brian Urlacher.
The next couple of teams with the most Hall of Fame players, with 26 each, offer a nod toward their significant success historically.
The Packers organization was born in 1919, but did not join the NFL until 1921 ~ its 2nd year of existence. Since then the franchise has won the most titles of any NFL team, with 13.
The franchise is the only in the NFL to have won 3 championships in a row ~ and they did it twice! (1929-31, 1965-67). The Packers won the initial 2 Super Bowls.
To win that many titles means you have to have a lot of good players. Green Bay players inducted into the Hall include Earl L. “Curly” Lambeau, who started the franchise and whose name still adorns the stadium the club plays in.
Other notable Packers in the Hall include defensive end Reggie White; wide receivers James Lofton and Don Hutson; coach Vince Lombardi; Jim Taylor; Forrest Gregg; quarterback Bart Starr; Ray Nitschke; Herb Adderley; Paul Hornung; modern quarterback Brett Favre; Charles Woodson; and the team’s last inductee, in 2022, safety LeRoy Butler.
The Pittsburgh Steelers were born in 1933, and unlike the 2 teams mentioned above, success was not immediate. The franchise did not make the playoffs until 1947, and did not enjoy the winning ways we recognize today until the 1970s.
But oh what a decade that was! The Steelers won titles in 1974, 1975, 1978, and 1979, under legendary coach Chuck Noll, who drafted many of the Hall of Famers after taking over the team starting in 1969.
The club since has won a couple of championships, in 2005 with Bill Cowher at the helm, and 2008 with coach Mike Tomlin. All that success sent a lot of players into the pro Hall of Fame, including: the abovementioned Noll, quarterback Terry Bradshaw, Franco Harris, Jack Ham, Jack Lambert, Kevin Greene, Jerome Bettis, Mel Blount, Joe Greene, Bobby Layne, Troy Polamalu, Art Rooney, John Stallworth, Lynn Swann, Donnie Shell, and safety Rod Woodson.
Including: Y.A. Tittle, Frank Gifford, Roosevelt Brown, Sam Huff, Fran Tarkenton, Lawrence Taylor, Harry Carson, Bill Parcells, Michael Strahan
Including: George Allen, Sammy Baugh, Bobby Beathard, Joe Gibbs, Darrell Green, Ken Houston, Sam Huff, Art Monk, John Riggins, Charley Taylor, Champ Bailey
Including: Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, Michael Irvin, Deion Sanders, Charles Haley, Larry Allen, Bob Lilly, Roger Staubach, Tom Landry, Tony Dorsett, Randy White, Mel Renfro, Bob Hayes
Including: Marshall Faulk, Aeneas Williams, Bob Waterfield, Dan Reeves, David (Deacon) Jones, Dick Lane, Dick Vermeil, Elroy Hirsch, Eric Dickerson, Jackie Slater, Jack Youngblood, Kurt Warner, Merlin Olsen, Norm Van Brocklin, Orlando Pace
Including: Jim Otto, George Blanda, Willie Brown, Gene Upshaw, John Madden, Fred Biletnikoff, Art Shell, Ted Hendricks, Al Davis, Mike Haynes, Howie Long, Dave Casper, Marcus Allen
Including: Jim Brown, Paul Brown, Otto Graham, Lou Groza, Marion Motley, Ozzie Newsome, Paul Warfield
Including: Barry Sanders, Calvin Johnson, Dutch Clark, John Henry Johnson, Alex Karras, Dick (Night Train) Lane, Bobby Layne, Dick LeBeau, Doak Walker
Including: Joe Montana, Ronnie Lott, Jerry Rice, Steve Young, Fred Dean, Bill Walsh, Terrell Owens, Edward J. DeBartolo, Jr., Isaac Bruce
Including: Peyton Manning, John Unitas, Reggie Waybe, Dwight Freeney, Robert Mathis,
Edgerrin James, Don Shula, Art Donovan, Marvin Harrison, Raymond Berry, Tony Dungy
Including: Fran Tarkenton, Carl Eller, Chris Carter, Chris Doleman, Bud Grant, Randall McDaniel
Randy Moss, Alan Page, John Randle, Ron Yary.
NFL Teams with the Fewest Football Hall of Fame Members
Through the 2022 season, only the Carolina Panthers and Houston Texans have not yet sent a player to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
The Cincinnati Bengals and Jacksonville Jaguars each have only a single player in the Hall, followed by the Baltimore Ravens with 3, and a trio of teams with 4: Atlanta Falcons, New Orleans Saints, and Seattle Seahawks.
Some of those numbers are criticized by fans, who believe running back Jamal Lewis should also represent the Baltimore Ravens in the Hall; linebacker Sam Mills could for the Carolina Panthers; linebacker Pat Swilling for the New Orleans Saints; offensive guard Steve Hutchinson for the Seattle Seahawks.
Election into the Pro Football Hall of Fame is much different than the process for Major League Baseball, where baseball writers vote on candidates. For the football Hall, members are selected by the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Selection Committee.
The Committee’s makeup is 1 media representative from each pro football city, including 2 from New York. A 34th member is a representative of the Pro Football Writers of America, and then add in up to 17 at-large delegates.
The PFWA representative is appointed for 2-year terms. All the others are for life, essentially, good until a retirement or resignation. The only requirement is to regularly attend Committee meetings.
This relatively large body meets annually, just before the Super Bowl. The reason is simple: to vote to elect new members of the Hall.
Each year a “class” of candidates is presented. There is no cap on how many hopefuls can be considered. However, only 4 to 9 new members can be elected in any single year.
All candidates, regardless how they are nominated, are carefully considered. To be elected, candidates must get at least 80% approval of the Committee at the annual meeting.
- Any fan can nominate any qualified person, whether a player, coach, contributor, or club personnel, by just writing to the Pro Football Hall of Fame!
- In such instances, the only rule is that nominated players or coaches must have last played or coached at least 5 seasons before consideration by the Committee.
- For instance, candidates for the 2024 class must have finished their careers no later than the 2018 season.
- The Pro Football Hall of Fame itself is an organization independent of the National Football League. It has no influence on who is elected for membership.
Committee members are free to consider any reasons to vote for a person for enshrinement, from career statistics to championships, to interesting contributions to the league and/or game. Consider some of the notabilities of certain Hall of Famers:
- Fred Gehrke was inducted in 1972. He is known as the person who designed the first football helmet logo. (We’re not making this up).
- Ever wondered who that guy is who narrates all the old game glips for NFL Films? That’s John Facenda, the “Voice of NFL Films,” enshrined 1986.
- The co-founder of NFL Films, Steve Sabol, was elected in 2007.
- A groundskeeper for Arrowhead Stadium, George Toma, was elected in 2001.
- Joe Browne, known for being a 50-year employee at the NFL’s central office, was enshrined in 2016.
The Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Board of Trustees approved a bylaws change in 2022 that added “Contributor” to the Coaches category. The new Coach/Contributor cat is for persons who “made outstanding contributions to professional football in capacities other than playing or coaching.”
For the Class of 2024, Committee selectors will have a list (roster) of up to 19 final candidates. To make sure that older players get considered, a Seniors Committee of 12 members of the overall Selection Committee will choose up to 3 nominees who played no more recently than the 1998 season.
Perhaps the biggest debate in recent years regarding the Pro Football Hall of Fame involves calls to kick certain Hall of Fame members from the establishment.
The initial calls came in 2010, when retired New York Giants linebacker Lawrence Taylor, already enshrined in the Hall of Fame (1999), was indicted for 3rd-degree rape, visiting a prostitute, and endangering the welfare of a child. Other Hall of Famers have been targeted in recent years ~ some based on mere allegations.
The answer then is the same as it is today: there is no process or mechanism for Hall of Fame members to be expelled. It should be noted that other Halls of Fame for major sports, including baseball and basketball, also don’t have rules to kick players out.
Critics of kicking Hall members out note that being a good human being is not required to be inducted. It’s supposed to be about the player’s acts on the field, or others who contributed somehow to the betterment of the game.
In actuality, the Hall’s bylaws specifically states off-field behavior does not impact eligibility for the Hall: “The only criteria for election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame are a nominee’s achievements and contributions as a player, coach, or contributor in professional football in the United States of America.” (Also, a player or coach must be retired for at least 5 years).
Question: Which club has sent the most people to the Hall of Fame, whether players, coaches, or other team personnel?
Answer: Chicago Bears again, with 37. For this category, the Green Bay Packers again are runner-up, with 33 club representatives.
Q.: Which players are certain for election into the Hall of Fame soon?
A.: There is no guarantee, but topping the list has to be quarterback Tom Brady. Other modern players who are considered “locks” are Aaron Rodgers, Aaron Donald, J.J. Watt, and Von Miller.
Q.: What was the smallest class of candidates for Pro Football Hall of Fame selection?’
A. The 1973 and 1976 classes resulted in 3 just new Hall of Famers each.
Q.: When did the Pro Football Hall of Fame open?
A.: Sept. 7, 1963 ~ long after baseball established its Hall (1939).
Q.: Why Canton, Ohio, for the home of the Pro Football Hall of Fame?
A.: Several reasons. The original league that became the NFL a couple years later, the American Professional Football Association, was founded in Canton on Sept. 17, 2020. Also, the Canton Bulldogs were a powerhouse football club in the early days of the sport, including both before and after the NFL began.
Q.: Why does it seem that teams that win championships get to send more players to the Hall of Fame?
A.: First off, championships come mostly from the makeup of the team, which is the players. Good teams have good players. Secondly, teams that compete for championships get more attention in the media, and therefore more people are aware of the star players of the best teams. When television helped the NFL boom in popularity in the 1960s, it didn’t take long for Super Bowl heroes like Bart Starr and Joe Namath to become household names among fans.