Peyton Manning, Charles Woodson lead list of 2021 finalists for Pro Football Hall of Fame

Four players in their first year of eligibility are among the 15 finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame's Class of 2021.

Quarterback Peyton Manning, defensive back Charles Woodson, wide receiver Calvin Johnson and defensive end Jared Allen lead the list of finalists.

As many as five of the finalists will be chosen later this month for enshrinement.

The finalists were announced Tuesday. It is the second time in the past four years that four players in their first year of eligibility have been finalists in the same year.

The enshrinement ceremony for the Class of 2021 is currently scheduled for the week of Aug. 5-9. The Class of 2020 is scheduled to be enshrined at a separate ceremony that week, as well, because August's event was canceled due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Those four players, with a combined 33 Pro Bowl appearances in their careers, join cornerback Ronde Barber, tackle Tony Boselli, safety LeRoy Butler, guard Alan Faneca, wide receiver Torry Holt, safety John Lynch, linebacker Clay Matthews Jr., linebacker Sam Mills, defensive lineman Richard Seymour, linebacker Zach Thomas and wide receiver Reggie Wayne as finalists.

It could be the eighth consecutive year a player in his first year of eligibility is selected, and if three of the players in the first year of eligibility are selected among the five enshrinees, it would be the third time in the past four years that three players in their first year of eligibility were selected for enshrinement in the same class.

Champ Bailey, Tony Gonzalez and Ed Reed were enshrined in 2019, and Ray Lewis, Randy Moss and Brian Urlacher were in the Class of 2018.

This year marks the eighth time Lynch has been a finalist, the sixth time for Faneca and the fifth time for Boselli.

The list of 15 will now be trimmed to as many as five enshrinees later this month by the Hall of Fame's board of selectors.

Tom Flores is already a finalist from the Hall coach's committee, Bill Nunn is a finalist as a contributor and Drew Pearson is a finalist from the seniors committee. If all three are chosen for enshrinement, the Hall's Class of 2021 could have eight new Hall of Famers.

Manning -- with five league MVP awards, 14 Pro Bowl selections, seven first-team All-Pro selections, a Comeback Player of the Year award and a Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award -- is one of the most decorated players in league history. He was behind center for the Denver Broncos when they won Super Bowl 50 to finish his final season (2015) in the league.

After 14 seasons with the Indianapolis Colts, Manning signed with the Broncos in 2012 -- making him one of the most accomplished players to change teams in the free-agency era. The Colts had 11 10-win seasons with Manning at quarterback and won Super Bowl XLI, with Manning chosen as the game's MVP.

He retired with numerous single-season and career records, including his 5,477 yards passing and 55 touchdowns in 2013.

Woodson was a nine-time Pro Bowl selection and finished his 18-year career tied for fifth in interceptions -- with Ken Riley -- with 65. He led the league in interceptions with nine for the Green Bay Packers in 2009, and he earned a Super Bowl ring with the Pack the following season.

The cornerback-turned-safety also forced 33 fumbles in his career, tallied 20 sacks and had three 90-tackle seasons, including 113 tackles with the Oakland Raiders at age 38.

Johnson played nine seasons for the Detroit Lions before abruptly retiring after the 2015 season, when he had 88 catches for 1,214 yards and nine touchdowns. He had five 1,200-yard receiving seasons, and he stands 31st in career receiving yards.

Because of the Lions' struggles, something he later said contributed to his retirement, he played in just two postseasons, finishing with 211 receiving yards and two touchdowns in his first postseason appearance, a 45-28 loss to the New Orleans Saints in the NFC wild-card round that followed the 2011 season.

And Allen, who is 12th on the league's all-time sack list with 136, played for four teams in his 13-year career and led the league in sacks in 2007 (with 15.5) and 2011 (with 22).