The Browns are once again well-represented in this year's batch of nominees for the Pro Football Hall of Fame's upcoming class.
Eric Metcalf, Josh Cribbs, Michael Dean Perry and Earnest Byner are among the 122 players to make the initial cut for the NFL's greatest individual honor. It's the first step in a four-step process that leads up to the Pro Football Hall of Fame's Class of 2022 enshrinement, which is set for August 2022 in Canton.
The list of Modern-Era Nominees will be reduced to 25 semifinalists in November and then 15 finalists in January. Voters will then debate and decide on who will be represented in the Class of 2022.
Cribbs, a three-time Pro Bowler, made the list for a third consecutive year. He finished his career tied for third in NFL history with 13,488 career return yards, third in kickoff return yards (11,113) and fifth in career return touchdowns (11). One year after he was named a Browns Legend, Cribbs will be officially honored alongside three others at Sunday's game against the Bears.
Byner played the first five of his 14 NFL seasons with the Browns and returned for the 1994 and 1995 seasons. Paired alongside Kevin Mack, Byner had 2,713 rushing yards and 2,034 receiving yards for the Browns from 1984-88. In 1985, Byner and Mack became just the third running back duo in league history to amass 1,000 yards apiece in the same season. Byner finished his career with 8,261 rushing yards, 4,605 receiving yards and 71 touchdowns.
Metcalf spent the first six seasons of his NFL career in Cleveland and was ahead of his time as a dual threat out of the backfield as well as a spark plug on special teams. The two-time Pro Bowler amassed 2,229 rushing yards, 2,732 receiving yards and a combined 26 touchdowns on offense and had another seven touchdowns on kick and punt returns during that period.
Perry, a major fan favorite during his seven years in Cleveland, made five of his six Pro Bowl appearances with the Browns. He started 90 games in Cleveland and compiled 51.5 sacks. He was among five former Browns to be named Legends in 2001 — just the third year into the program's existence.
Running back Jamal Lewis finished his career in Cleveland, rushing for 2,806 yards and 13 touchdowns from 2007-09.
Offensive lineman Lomas Brown, a seven-time Pro Bowler, appeared in 10 games for the 1999 expansion Browns, one of his 18 NFL seasons.
Linebacker/defensive end Willie McGinest finished his decorated, 15-year career with the Browns, spending three seasons with the team (2006-08) and making 38 starts.
For a third straight year, Jeff Garcia and Jake Delhomme were among the quarterbacks nominated for this year's class. Garcia spent the 2004 season in Cleveland and started 10 games while Delhomme appeared in five games in 2010.
WR Andre Rison, whose prime years were spent in Atlanta, played for the Browns in 1995, catching 47 passes for 701 yards and three touchdowns.
Clay Matthews Jr., who made it all the way to the finalist stage in 2021, is no longer a modern era candidate because he exhausted his 20-year eligibility. Matthews' path to the Hall of Fame must now go through the Coach/Senior committee.