Chicago Bears great Steve McMichael, AFL star Art Powell and Denver Broncos great Randy Gradishar were named senior finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame's Class of 2024, the organization announced Wednesday.
The trio was selected by the Hall of Fame's Seniors Committee on Tuesday among a group of 12 senior players who were considered for enshrinement. Their candidacy will now go to the Hall's full 50-person selection committee, with each senior needing at least 80% approval to get the nod.
Former Detroit Lions and Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Buddy Parker was chosen as a finalist last week by the coach/contributor committee and can also receive enshrinement with 80% approval.
McMichael's candidacy might be the most notable of the group, as it comes two years after his ALS diagnosis and only a few weeks after he was placed in intensive care with pneumonia and sepsis. His health has reportedly improved since then.
His wife Misty said she wanted him to survive to see his enshrinement, via Patch:
“I hope he stays alive for the next year because I know he will if he gets inducted,” Misty McMichael told Patch earlier this month. “I know he’ll stay alive. He’s tough. He’s not human. He probably should have been dead already. The doctors have been giving him six months for a year.
“But he’s hanging on and I really hope that this gives him the incentive to hang on for another year.”
McMichael, a five-time All-Pro at defensive tackle, was a foundational member of the 1985 Bears, a team still considered to be one of the greatest in NFL history. Not only was "Mongo" a dominant force up front, he was also described by Mike Ditka as one of the toughest players he ever coached. His personality made him a fan favorite in Chicago then and now.
Powell, who died in 2015, played from 1959 to 1968, mostly with teams then in the AFL. He was a six-time All-AFL selection and retired with 8,046 receiving yards and 81 touchdowns. Gradishar spent his entire career with the Denver Broncos, earning seven Pro Bowl nods and the NFL Defensive Player of the Year award in 1978.