Ex-Dolphins linebacker Zach Thomas again a finalist for Pro Football Hall of Fame

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  • Zach Thomas
    American football player, linebacker
  • Devin Hester
    Devin Hester
    American football player, wide receiver, kick returner
  • Patrick Willis
    Patrick Willis
    American football player, linebacker
  • Sam Mills
    American football player and coach (1959-2005)

Former Dolphins linebacker Zach Thomas is a finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame for the third time, it was announced Thursday by NFL Network.

The Class of 2022 will be announced in the lead-up to Super Bowl LVI in Los Angeles. Enshrinement is planned for next summer, with dates for the festivities to be announced.

The list of 15 modern-era finalists includes linebackers Patrick Willis and Sam Mills.

More: Habib: Hall voters didn't 'rob' Dolphins' Zach Thomas. They're just delaying inevitable.

More: Breaking: Miami Dolphins' Zach Thomas 'humbled' to be finalist for Pro Football Hall of Fame

The first-time finalists, all advancing in their first year of eligibility, are receiver Andre Johnson, linebacker DeMarcus Ware and receiver/kick returner Devin Hester of Suncoast High and the Chicago Bears.

Dolphins Zach Thomas is a step away from Canton, Ohio.
Dolphins Zach Thomas is a step away from Canton, Ohio.

“It’s so hard to describe,” said Hester, who appeared on NFL Network wearing a University of Miami shirt. “I’m honored and blessed to make it to the finals. … I just hope we can get this done.”

Thomas, 48, was drafted by the Dolphins in the fifth round in 1996. Over 12 seasons in Miami, plus a final one in Dallas, he amassed 1,734 tackles.

Thomas made the Pro Bowl seven times and was All-Pro five times.

Baker named player of month

Dolphins linebacker Jerome Baker was named the AFC’s defensive player of the month for December.

Baker had 16 tackles, six tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks in December.

Baker is the first Dolphin to win the award since Cameron Wake in October 2012.

Baker said his first hint something was happening came when his phone kept buzzing in a meeting. The best reaction?

“It’s definitely been my mom and my dad,” he said. “They might have texted me, like, a million times about it. They texted me, they called me, they DM’d me on social media. It’s like they just keep saying it so I know they’re proud.”

Baker added, “For me, it’s just happy to see everybody else happy. Happy just to get an award and bring attention to our defense, who definitely have been doing our thing this past month and it’s a credit to our defense.”

In addition, safety Jason McCourty was named one of eight finalists for the Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award.

Ogbah hopes to finish career in Miami

Dolphins defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah has 10 passes defensed this season. It’s a career high and the most by an NFL defensive lineman since 2017 by New Orleans’ Cameron Jordan.

Ogbah is scheduled to become a free agent after this season, unless he signs an extension. Thursday, he said he hopes that’s exactly what happens. “Oh yeah, that’s definitely been my goal, to stay here a long time and stay for the rest of my career,” Ogbah said. “But whatever happens, leave it in God’s hands.”

Hall of Fame finalists

The modern-era finalists will be considered when the Hall of Fame’s Selection Committee meets virtually Jan. 18.

The players, along with their positions, years and teams are:

Jared Allen, Defensive End – 2004-07 Kansas City Chiefs, 2008-2013 Minnesota Vikings, 2014-15 Chicago Bears, 2015 Carolina Panthers

Willie Anderson, Offensive Tackle – 1996-2007 Cincinnati Bengals, 2008 Baltimore Ravens

Ronde Barber, Cornerback/Safety – 1997-2012 Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tony Boselli, Offensive Tackle – 1995-2001 Jacksonville Jaguars, 2002 Houston Texans (injured reserve)

LeRoy Butler, Safety – 1990-2001 Green Bay Packers

Devin Hester, Punt Returner/Kick Returner/Wide Receiver – 2006-2013 Chicago Bears, 2014-15 Atlanta Falcons, 2016 Baltimore Ravens

Torry Holt, Wide Receiver – 1999-2008 St. Louis Rams, 2009 Jacksonville Jaguars

Andre Johnson, Wide Receiver – 2003-2014 Houston Texans, 2015 Indianapolis Colts, 2016 Tennessee Titans

Sam Mills, Linebacker – 1986-1994 New Orleans Saints, 1995-97 Carolina Panthers

Richard Seymour, Defensive End/Defensive Tackle – 2001-08 New England Patriots, 2009-2012 Oakland Raiders

Zach Thomas, Linebacker – 1996-2007 Miami Dolphins, 2008 Dallas Cowboys

DeMarcus Ware, Linebacker/Defensive End – 2005-2013 Dallas Cowboys, 2014-16 Denver Broncos

Reggie Wayne, Wide Receiver – 2001-2014 Indianapolis Colts

Patrick Willis, Linebacker – 2007-2014 San Francisco 49ers

Bryant Young, Defensive Tackle/Defensive End – 1994-2007 San Francisco 49ers

Three others — Dick Vermeil, Art McNally and Cliff Branch, the finalists in the Coach, Contributor and Senior categories, respectively — also are candidates for the Class of 2022.

This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Post: Dolphins' Zach Thomas, Suncoast's Devin Hester: Hall of Fame finalists

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