As the league prepares for week two of the 2018 season, the list of modern-era nominees for the Pro Football Hall of Fame was released on Thursday. Among the 102 modern-era names, a familiar face appeared for Arizona Cardinals as former safety Adrian Wilson enters his first year of eligibility. Having your bust displayed in Canton, Ohio is an elite club. It is one thing to be recognized as one of the best players in during your time, but to be selected as one of the game’s best ever, that is a special achievement.
Wilson was drafted out of North Carolina State University by the Arizona Cardinals in the third round of the 2001 NFL draft. He came out of college known for his exceptional instincts and hard hitting ability. Wilson played strong safety for 12 seasons in Arizona. Over that time Wilson played in 181 games, starting in 162. Wilson spent his rookie season on special teams and in nickle and dime situations. The 2002 season brought a move to the starting lineup where Wilson would stay for a decade.
During his time with the Cardinals, Wilson averaged two interceptions, two sacks, and 75 tackles a season. A dozen years of that type of production warrants possible entry into the Hall of Fame. Wilson’s best season statistical season was in 2009. That season the safety recorded five interceptions, two sacks, and 74 tackles. Wilson was named to the Pro-Bowl as well as being selected to the first team All-Pro.
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The Cardinals released Wilson in March of 2013. The veteran then signed with New England but missed the season due to injury. Wilson signed with Chicago but was released in preseason. The following offseason Wilson signed a one-day contract with Arizona and retired as a Cardinal on April 22, 2015. Adrian Wilson finished his career with five Pro Bowl invites and three All-Pro selections. During his 12 seasons the numbers show Wilson was the league’s top safety. Wilson also finished his career as one of six players to have collected at least 25 interceptions and 25 sacks. He then found a spot with the Cardinals organization as a scout where he continues to help the team that drafted him.
In November the list of modern-era nominees is reduced to 25 semifinalists. The next cut takes place in January as 15 finalists will be named. The 2019 class is selected on February 2nd, 2019. The Hall of Fame allows fans to have their voices heard with a fan vote. Fans can select up to fifteen finalists. Time will tell if Wilson will have the votes to continue forward in the Hall of Fame process. For Wilson, his career stats put him in elite company, but ultimately it may become a numbers game when it comes time for voting.