Chuck Howley, Joe Klecko, Ken Riley finalists for HOF

Chuck Howley, Joe Klecko and Ken Riley are the senior finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2023.

They were selected by the Seniors Committee from the 12 remaining names under consideration among players whose careers ended no later than the 1996 season. The list originally began with 127 players.

The Selection Committee will consider those three (along with 15 modern-era players and a coach/contributor) for enshrinement in Canton, Ohio, when they meet in January.

“I’d like to thank the Seniors Committee for the extensive research each member put into preparing for the selection meeting. The Selectors talked about 12 individuals — several never discussed in a forum like this before — and every candidate’s resumé was presented in great detail,” HOF president Jim Porter said in a news release on Wednesday. “Expanding the conversation with additional Selectors participating in the process produced three worthy Finalists now on the doorstep of election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.”

Howley, 86, played linebacker for the Dallas Cowboys (1961-73) and Chicago Bears (1958-59). He was a six-time Pro Bowl selection and five-time first-team All-Pro who was named the MVP of the Cowboys’ Super Bowl V victory against the Baltimore Colts.

Klecko, 68, was a defensive lineman for the New York Jets (1977-87) and Indianapolis Colts (1988). He made four Pro Bowls and two All-Pro teams and recorded 78 sacks, including a league-leading 20.5 in 1981.

“You made my day; that’s for sure,” Klecko said in a congratulatory phone call with Porter. “I’ve had too many of them ‘no’ phone calls, and to get this one with a ‘yes’ is just absolutely exciting. … It’s a great time in the Klecko house.”

Riley, who died in 2020 at age 72, was a cornerback with the Cincinnati Bengals for 15 season (1969-83). He intercepted at least one pass every season and finished his career with 65 picks, tied with Charles Woodson for the fifth most in NFL history.