Matt Jones is the online sports director for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A double graduate of the University of Arkansas, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, and voter for the Heisman Trophy.
Atwater, Johnson finalists for Pro Football Hall of Fame
Dallas Cowboys head coach Jimmy Johnson yells from the sidelines during the fourth quarter at the Super Bowl against the Buffalo Bills, Sunday, Jan. 30, 1994 at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. Johnson's Cowboys defeated the Buffalo Bills 30-13 to win their second consecutive Super Bowl title. (AP Photo/Ron Heflin)
FAYETTEVILLE Three Arkansas football players have been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Two more could join them this year.
Former Razorbacks Steve Atwater and Jimmy Johnson are finalists for the 2020 class for the Canton, Ohio-based hall of fame. Atwater is a finalist for the third time and Johnson for the first time through an initiative meant to induct a larger-than-normal class this year to commemorate the NFL’s 100th season.
Twenty individuals will be inducted this year - five modern-era players, 10 senior players, three contributors and two coaches. Atwater is one of 15 finalists in the modern era category and Johnson is one of eight finalists in the coaches category.
Atwater, who was also a finalist last year and in 2016 and who has been a semifinalist the past nine years, played 11 NFL seasons as a safety, including 10 with the Denver Broncos. With the Broncos, Atwater won two Super Bowls, was an eight-time Pro Bowler and two-time First-Team All Pro.
Atwater was selected by the Broncos 20th overall in the first round of the 1989 draft. He started 166 games in his career - he only missed five games as a Bronco - and recorded 1,180 tackles and 24 interceptions.
Johnson won two Super Bowls in five seasons as head coach of the Dallas Cowboys. He also coached four seasons for the Miami Dolphins.
Hired away from a prolific tenure as head coach at the University of Miami, Johnson turned around the Cowboys from a one-win team in his first season to Super Bowl champions in his final two years. Johnson’s record in Dallas was 44-36 and the team made the playoffs three times.
Johnson previously was a modern-day semifinalist for the hall of fame from 2016-18.
Johnson was the first head coach hired in Dallas by Jerry Jones, his college teammate at Arkansas from 1962-64. Jones was inducted into the hall of fame as a contributor in 2017. Other former Razorbacks previously inducted are Lance Alworth in 1978 and Dan Hampton in 2002.
This year’s hall of fame class will be announced the week of the Super Bowl week in February and inducted in August.
2020 Pro Football Hall of Fame Finalists
Frank “Bucko” Kilroy
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