The doors to the Football Hall of Fame have opened up for 7 former players, including a few who waited over a decade to get in.
Ryan Fox --- @Spider_Fox87
It is every football player’s dream to be enshrined in the Hall of Fame. Over the years, thousands of NFL players stepped onto the field but only a select few are enshrined in Canton, OH. The 2014 NFL Hall of Fame class was announced a day before Super Bowl XLVIII on February 1, 2014. This year’s class includes 4 defensive players, 2 offensive players, and for the first time since the 1991 class, a pure kicker.
Derrick Brooks, LB Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1995-2008)
In his first year of eligibility, Derrick Brooks was able to get into Canton. He spent all 14 years in the NFL playing for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He was drafted by the Bucs with the 28th pick overall in the 1995 draft out of Florida State University. In his 14-year career, Brooks played in 224 games and started in 221. He amassed 1,715 tacklesv(1,301 solo and 414 assisted) to go along with 13.5 sacks, 25 interceptions, 60 passes deflected, 24 forced fumbles, 4 fumble recoveries, and 7 defensive touchdowns. Brooks was also an 11-time Pro Bowler (1997-2006, 2008) including being the MVP of the 2005 Pro Bowl, named to the NFL All-Pro Team 9 times (1997-2005), and was named to the NFL’s 2000s All-Decade Team.
He also was the recipient of the Walter Payton Man of the Year in 2000, NFL Defensive Player of the Year and NFL Alumni Linebacker of the Year Award in 2002, both the “Whizzer” White and Bart Star Man of the Year in 2003, and Super Bowl XXXVII Champion in the 2002-03 season. He now joins Bucs DE Lee Roy Selmon and former Bucs teammate Warren Sapp (from 1995-2003) as the Tampa Bay’s only Hall-of-Famers.
Claude Humphrey, DE Atlanta Falcons (1968-78), Philadelphia Eagles (1979-1981)
Like Ray Guy, Claude Humphrey also had to wait a long time (28 years to be exact) to get into Canton. After being nominated as a finalist 5 times as a modern era candidacy, Humphrey joined Guy as the other Senior Committee candidate. Humphrey was taken as the 3rd overall pick in the 1968 NFL draft by the Atlanta Falcons. He spent 11 seasons with them, playing in 10 seasons while missing the entire 1975 season due to injury, before finishing up his final 3 years with the Philadelphia Eagles. All in all, Humphrey played in 171 games while starting in 148. He unofficially recorded 126 ½ sacks (sacks were not counted in statistics until 1982 after Humphrey retired) while officially recording 2 interceptions, 11 fumble recoveries, 1 defensive touchdown, and 2 safeties. During his 14-year NFL career, Humphrey was elected to 6 Pro Bowls (1970-1974, 1977), 8 All-Pro Teams (1969-1974, 1976-1977), was named the 1968 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, and had a Super Bowl appearance with the Eagles during the 1980-81 season (Super Bowl XV).
Walter Jones, OT Seattle Seahawks (1997-2009)
Only two offensive players were in select for the 2014 Class. Walter Jones was one of them. Like Derrick Brooks, Jones also played college football at Florida State University Seminole and got into Canton in his first year of eligibility. Jones came out of college early to enter the 1997 NFL Draft. He was selected by the Seattle Seahawks with the 6th pick overall and was plugged in as a starter in Day one of his NFL career. From 1997-2008, Jones was considered an ironman on the Seattle offensive line. From 1998-2000, Jones blocked for RB Ricky Watters as Watters had 1,200+ yards rushing in those seasons. Then from 2001-2005 when RB Shaun Alexander ran for 1,000+ yards each of those seasons (including Alexander’s 2005 MVP season).
Overall, Jones played in 180 games and started all of them. He was elected to 9 Pro Bowls (1999, 2001-2008), 7 All-Pro Teams (2001-2002, 2004-2008), the NFL All-Rookie First-team (1997), the NFL 2000s All-Decade Team, the Seattle Seahawks 35th Anniversary Team, and a Super Bowl appearance during the 2005-2006 season (Super Bowl XL). He joins fellow Seahawks Hall of Famers WR Steve Largent (1995 Class) and DT Cortez Kennedy (2012 Class) as the third Seahawks to get elected into Canton and have his jersey number (#71) retired by the Seahawks.
Andre Reed, WR Buffalo Bills (1985-1999), Denver Broncos (2000), Washington Redskins (2000)
With OT Walter Jones being the first offensive player to get elected in, Andre Reed was the second offensive player in the 2014 Class. After sitting behind other wide receivers like Art Monk, Chris Carter, Michael Irving, and Jerry Rice, Reed finally got the call to Canton. The lowest selected draft pick in the 2014 Class, Reed was picked in the 4th round selection at the 86th pick overall of the 1985 NFL Draft by the Buffalo Bills. He was part of the Buffalo Bills squad that made 4 consecutive Super Bowl appearances (Super Bowl XXV in the 1990-91 season, Super Bowl XXVI in the 1991-92 season, Super Bowl XXVII in the 1992-93 season, and Super Bowl XXVIII during the 1993-94 season).
Reed spent 15 years with the Buffalo Bills, becoming their franchise leader in receptions (941), receiving yards (13,095), and tied with fellow Bills and NFL Hall of Famer RB Thurman Thomas with franchise lead in total touchdowns (87 apiece). Overall Reed has 951 catches (10th all-time) for 13,198 yards (9th all time) for 87 touchdowns (11th all-time). Reed is also 2nd all-time in seasons with 50+ receptions with 13, just 3 behind WR Jerry Rice. To go along with his statistics, Reed was a 7-time Pro Bowler (1988-1994) and named to the NFL 2nd-Team All-Pro twice (1989 & 1990).
Michael Strahan, DE New York Giants (1993-2007
In 1993, LB Lawrence Taylor was at the twilight of his Hall of Fame career and was going to retire are the end of the season after 13 years in the NFL. The New York Giants needed to find a replacement for Taylor that could bring a tremendous presence not only to their defense but to their team. So with their first pick of the 1993 NFL draft, a 2nd round-pick, they took a young defensive end out of the small college of Texas Southern named Michael Strahan. For the next 15 years, Strahan terrorized the NFC East along with the NFL. He became the face of the Giants’ franchise, becoming their all-time leader in games played (216), games started (205), total tackles (854), solo tackles (667), assisted tackles (187), career sacks (141.5), and most sacks in a single-season (22.5). His 141.5 sacks actually puts him 5th All-time among NFL defenders and his 22.5 sacks in a single season are an NFL record. To go along with career stats, Strahan also had 4 interceptions, 24 forced fumbles, 15 fumble recoveries, 3 total defensive touchdowns, and 1 safety. It is also worth mentioning that in a span in 9 years from 1997-2005, he had 6 seasons of 10+ sack totals (1997-1998, 2001-2003, 2005).
Strahan was elected to 7 Pro Bowls (1997-1999, 2001-2003, 2005), 6 NFL All-Pro Teams (1997-1998, 2001-2003, 2005), as well as to the NFL 2000s All-Decade Team. He won NFC Defensive Player of the Year twice (2001, 2003) as well as NFL Defensive Player of the Year once (2001) and the NFL Alumni Pass Rusher of the Year (2003). Strahan made 2 Super Bowl appearances in his career. He lost in Super Bowl XXXV against the Baltimore Ravens in the 2000-01 season but got his elusive Lombardi Trophy in Super Bowl XLII against the New England Patriots in the 2007-2008, his last game as a professional football player.
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