In a testament to patience, the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2022 will feature four former players who waited until at least their 10th year of eligibility to hear news of their future enshrinement.
Linebacker Sam Mills was in the 20th and final year of eligibility as a modern-era candidate. Safety LeRoy Butler and tackle Tony Boselli were in their 16th year of eligibility, and defensive tackle Bryant Young was in his 10th.
This year's class will also include defensive tackle/end Richard Seymour, who was in his fifth year of eligibility, wide receiver Cliff Branch, who was the seniors finalist, coach Dick Vermeil and the NFL's long-time director of officiating Art McNally -- considered the father of modern officiating. McNally is the first former on-field official to have been enshrined in the Hall.
For the first time since 2012, a first-time eligible finalist was not selected for enshrinement. Notable first-year eligible candidates included linebacker DeMarcus Ware, wide receiver Andre Johnson and punt/kick returner Devin Hester.
This year's class was chosen Jan. 18 by the Hall's board of selectors during a virtual meeting. The eight new Hall of Famers will be enshrined in early August in Canton, Ohio.
Here is a closer look at the enshrinees for 2022:
Tony Boselli, offensive tackle
Jacksonville Jaguars, 1995-2001
His candidacy has always been quality, as in the highest quality over quantity, given that his career was limited to 91 games because of shoulder injuries. He was selected to five Pro Bowls and was one of four tackles chosen for the All-Decade team of the 1990s.
Why he was elected: Boselli was elite in all seven seasons he played, allowing just 15.5 sacks during his career. It's clear the board of selectors took into account what Boselli has called a botched left shoulder operation that ended his career. He played his best against the league's best and was a foundation player for the Jaguars. He had just 11 career holding penalties despite facing the league's best pass-rushers. There were four seasons in which he had no accepted holding penalties against him.
Signature moment: He had several along the way, but many in the league will point to the playoffs following the 1996 season. During the Jaguars' wild-card round win over the Buffalo Bills, the then 24-year-old Boselli held Hall of Fame pass-rusher Bruce Smith without a sack after Smith had been the league's Defensive Player of the Year with 13.5 sacks and five forced fumbles that season.
Cliff Branch, wide receiver
Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders, 1972-1985
Branch was considered the fastest player in the league for much of his career and one of the fastest to ever play, averaging more than 17 yards per catch for his career. His 1,111-yard season in 1976 came on just 46 receptions, and he led the league with 12 touchdowns that year. That year Branch averaged 79.4 yards receiving per game during a time when teams league-wide averaged 152 yards passing per game.
Why he was elected: He was an All-Pro three times and played on three Super Bowl winners. He led the league in touchdowns twice.
Signature moment: The AFC Championship Game during the 1974 season when, facing Hall of Famer cornerback Mel Blount much of the day, Branch finished with nine receptions for 186 yards and a touchdown. Blount once said it went so badly for him that Steelers coach Chuck Noll "took me out of the game."
Quotable: "With him it's not running, it's flying." -- Hall of Famer Al Davis
LeRoy Butler, safety
Green Bay Packers, 1990-2001
A four-time All-Pro with a rare combination of skills, he had 38 career interceptions to go with 20.5 career sacks and 13 forced fumbles. Butler was part of a Packers team that went to the NFC Championship Game three consecutive times and reached two consecutive Super Bowls, winning one.
Why he was elected: Butler was equally effective at the point of attack in the run game, rushing the passer and playing in coverage. He had three seasons with at least three interceptions and at least three sacks. He was the only first-team player from the 1990s All-Decade team who had not been enshrined.
Signature moment: Beyond the game-changing plays on his résumé, his signature is still copied today. After he scored on a lateral from Hall of Famer Reggie White during a December 1993 game, Butler jumped into the stands for the first Lambeau Leap.
Quotable: "He had no weakness." --Hall of Fame general manager Ron Wolf
Art McNally, contributor
NFL official/director of officiating, 1959-1991 | NFL consultant, 1991-1994 | NFL assistant supervisor of officials, 1995-2007
McNally is the foundation of what modern football officiating looks like and the first former on-field official to be enshrined. In 1968, his first year as the league's director of officiating, McNally began the first program in professional sports to use film study to train and evaluate officials each season.
Why he was elected: Hall of Fame general manager Bill Polian has said, most of what the process of officiating is in the modern era of football, even down to the number of officials on the field, has come from McNally. He was a proponent of the use of replay, dating back to 1986 when it was first used, as well as all forms of technology to train, recruit and grade officiating crews.
Signature moment: Beyond the first time replay was used during a regular-season game, the 96-year-old McNally started his NFL journey as a field judge in 1959. Nine years later he was the league's supervisor of officials.
Quotable: "I couldn't always be right, but I always tried to be honest." -- Art McNally
Sam Mills, linebacker
New Orleans Saints, 1986-1994 | Carolina Panthers, 1995-1997
A five-time Pro Bowl selection during his NFL career, he was also considered one of the two best players in the USFL -- along with Reggie White -- early in his professional career. Mills was three-time All-USFL for the Philadelphia Stars, who won two league titles with him. Mills was selected for his final Pro Bowl as a 37-year-old with the Carolina Panthers.
Why he was elected: At 5-foot-9, Mills spent much of his career as a physical outlier at linebacker. He had seven 100-tackle seasons and was part of the fabled "Dome Patrol" defense for the Saints that also included Hall of Famer Rickey Jackson.
Signature moment: His career was a collection of great moments, but he was selected to both the Saints Ring of Honor as well as the Panthers' Hall of Honor. His message to "keep pounding" as a Panthers assistant coach when he was battling cancer are still the team's defining words.
Quotable: "You can't go around looking for the next Sam Mills, because you won't find him very often, if ever. Sam Mills wasn't a great player because he overcame his height. He is a Hall of Fame player who just happened to be 5-9." -- former Denver Broncos head coach Vic Fangio
Richard Seymour, defensive lineman
New England Patriots, 2001-08 | Oakland Raiders, 2009-12
Seymour was so good that Patriots coach Bill Belichick once said after a game when Seymour had not been credited with a tackle, an assist or a quarterback hit that "Richard Seymour was the best player on the field today." Such was life in the interior of Belichick's defensive line. Bottom line, though, Seymour was a dominant player in both 4-3 and 3-4 schemes and won three Super Bowl rings.
Why he was elected: Seymour was versatile and productive given he knocked down 39 passes during his career, had 57.5 sacks and had three 50-tackle seasons on the interior of a two-gap system for much of his career. He was named to seven Pro Bowls and was a first-team All-Pro three times.
Signature moment: During most of his career Seymour was manhandling double teams, but as a rookie he blew up the play as Raiders' running back Zack Crockett was stopped for no gain on a third-and-1 with a little more than two minutes to play in an AFC divisional round game that followed the 2001 season. The Patriots trailed 13-10 at the time, had just one timeout and Seymour's play forced a punt. The Patriots drove for a game-tying field goal on the next possession and won in overtime to advance to the first of nine Super Bowl trips under Belichick.
Quotable: "Everybody can't do their own thing, I'm willing to put my own agenda aside to do what's best for the team." --Richard Seymour
Dick Vermeil, coach
Vermeil led all three franchises he coached to the playoffs, led two to the Super Bowl and won Super Bowl XXXIV. Vermeil also has the rare distinction of having been a head coach for three different franchises and having resigned -- not been fired -- from each after getting them to the playoffs. Between his stint with the Eagles and his tenure as Rams coach, Vermeil worked 14 seasons as a television analyst, first for CBS and then for ABC.
Why he was elected: His overall record of 120-109 is not nearly as good as some who are not enshrined, and his one Super Bowl win is less than Mike Shanahan, Tom Coughlin and George Seifert, who are not enshrined. But Vermeil took two franchises who were among the league's worst when he arrived -- the Eagles and the Rams -- to the league's title game. And with the Eagles he accomplished the massive turnaround before there was free agency.
Signature moment: He unleased the "Greatest Show on Turf" with an unknown-turned-Hall-of-Fame quarterback in Kurt Warner, and the Rams won Super Bowl XXXIV to close out the 1999 season.
Quotable: "He changed the way people coached in the NFL. He brought a method of coaching to the league that he had used in college and it revolutionized the thinking of people throughout the league. ... Coach Vermeil's approach was that players would benefit from individualized coaching. He brought in a much larger coaching staff so that more position players received personal coaching. He also brought the idea of college football 'spring practice' to the NFL. ... And the quality of play, the execution and teaching of our game is much better because of it." --Hall of Famer Tony Dungy
Bryant Young, defensive tackle
San Francisco 49ers, 1994-2007
A four-time Pro Bowl selection who finished with 89.5 career sacks, including five seasons of at least eight sacks. He won the league's Comeback Player of the Year award in 1999 after he returned from a leg injury that threatened to end his career -- then played eight more seasons.
Why he was elected: There may be no player among this year's enshrinees who received more unsolicited support from opposing players than Young did. A parade of offensive linemen who struggled to block him over the course of his career publicly endorsed Young for a gold jacket. The 49ers have handed out an award each year since 1957 -- the Len Eshmont Award -- to honor the player selected to be most inspirational and courageous. Young won it eight times -- no other player in the storied history of the franchise has won it more than twice.
Signature moment: During a career filled with double teams and the heavy lifting needed to play on the interior of the defensive line, the 291-pound Young was carried off the field by teammates Jeff Ulbrich and Ronald Fields after Young's final home game with the 49ers in 2007.
Quotable: "I don't know exactly what a Hall of Famer is, but I know what one is when I see him and B.Y. is a Hall of Famer." -- former NFL offensive lineman Mark Schlereth