Yesterday the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee elected the class of 2017. The new members of the hall consisted of a full back field with quarterback Kurt Warner and two extremely talented running backs in Terrell Davis and LaDainian Tomlinson. A pass rusher named Jason Taylor, maybe the most consistent placekicker to ever play the game in Morten Andersen (Copenhagen, Denmark), one of the all-time fierce enforcers of the defensive secondary Senior inductee Kenny Easley and Jerry Jones as a contributor (owner, president and general manager) Dallas Cowboys. These men were chosen from a list of 18 finalists selected by the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Selection Committee.
The Class of 2017 will be enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday, Aug. 5. The enshrinement week has several dinners, a parade and the introduction during the halftime of the Hall of Fame game. While a scout for the Carolina Panthers we played in this prestigious game in 1995 against Jacksonville Jaguars (Expansion teams), I also covered a total of three as a College Director and one as a Vice President with the St. Louis Rams while evaluating talent.
In 2008 I had the honor of being invited to the enshrinement weekend as a guest of my friend Andre Tippett, Linebacker for the New England Patriots and experienced the weekend of festivities. Inducted in that same class was Cornerback Darrell Green, I had never met him but I admired his speed and longevity to play for 20 years in the NFL for the Washington Redskins. Little did I know we would latter become close friends and work together in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl. While I enjoyed the parade, induction speeches and the complete enshrinement ceremony held in Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium. The Gold Jacket presentation was by far a very special time for the members going into the hall, but also for family, friends and teammates as well.
Below courtesy of NFL Communications are the years played, statistics and accolades for the Class of 2017
Kicker … 6-2, 218 … Michigan State … 1982-1994 New Orleans Saints, 1995-2000, 2006-07 Atlanta Falcons, 2001 New York Giants, 2002-03 Kansas City Chiefs, 2004 Minnesota Vikings … 25 seasons, 382 games … Selected by Saints in 4th round (86th player overall) of 1982 draft … Began career in strike-shortened 1982 season … Scored more than 90 points in 22 seasons … Topped 100-point total 14 times in career … First 100-plus season, 1985, connected on 31 of 35 field goals, 27 extra point conversions, for 120 points, earning first of seven Pro Bowl selections … Also named All-Pro five times … After 13 years with Saints and ranking as team’s all-time leading scorer, joined the Falcons in 1995 … Became Falcons career scoring leader … Spectacular 1995 season, scored a career-high 122 points, including then NFL-record for most 50-yard field goals in season (8) … Dec. 10, 1995, became first kicker to convert three field goals of 50 yards or longer in single game … Set NFL records for career points (2,544), most field goals (565), games played (382) … His 40 field goals of 50-plus yards most in NFL history at retirement … Named to two NFL All-Decade Teams (1980s and 1990s) … Converted 565 of 709 field goal attempts, 849 of 859 point-after-attempts … Led NFL in field goals, 1987 … Led NFC in scoring, 1992 and topped all conference kickers in most field goals in 1985, 1987, and 1995 … Born August 19, 1960 in Struer, Denmark.
Running Back … 5-11, 206 … Long Beach State, Georgia … 1995-2001 Denver Broncos … 7 seasons, 78 games … Selected by Broncos in the sixth round, (196th player overall) of 1995 NFL Draft … Made big splash when he earned starting tailback position as rookie … Despite missing final two games of rookie campaign with hamstring tear, eclipsed 1,000-yard mark and added career-high 49 receptions for 367 yards … In second year, gained 1,538 yards rushing, named Offensive Player of the Year … Rushed for 1,750 yards and league-high 15 TDs in 1997 … In 1998 became fourth runner in NFL history to rush for 2,000 yards in season (2,008) and led NFL with 21 rushing TDs en route to Denver’s second straight Super Bowl title … Set NFL playoff record seven straight 100-yard performances spanning 1997-98 postseasons … Earned MVP honors in Super Bowl XXXII after rushing 157 yards, 3 TDs in victory over Packers … Scored 8 rushing touchdowns in ’97 playoff run … In 1998 playoffs, rushed for franchise postseason-record 199 yards against Dolphins in divisional playoff, 167 yards vs. Jets in the championship and 102 yards in Super Bowl XXXIII victory over Falcons … Devastating knee injury limited him to just 17 games over his final three seasons … Three-time All-Pro selection … Rushed for 7,607 yards, 60 TDs in just 78 career games … Added additional 1,280 yards on 169 career catches and five TD receptions … Selected to three Pro Bowls and named to the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 1990s … Born October 28, 1972 in San Diego California.
Safety … 6-3, 206 … UCLA … 1981-87 Seattle Seahawks … 7 seasons, 89 games … Drafted as fourth player overall by Seahawks in 1981 NFL Draft … Three-time consensus All-America at UCLA … Made immediate impact in Seattle with his intimidating style on defense … Developed reputation as punishing tackler … Picked as Defensive Rookie of the Year after sensational first season in which he recorded 3 interceptions for 155 yards and 1 TD (82-yarder vs. Browns), 1981 … Defensive leader of Seahawks team that advanced to franchise’s first-ever AFC championship game, 1983 … Registered 7 interceptions for 106 yards to earn AFC Defensive Player of the Year honors, 1983 … Named Defensive Player of the Year in 1984 after recording league-high and career-best 10 interceptions including pair of pick-sixes (25 yards vs. Patriots; 58 yards vs. Chiefs) … All-Pro four straight seasons, 1982-85 … Named to five Pro Bowls (1983-86, 1988) … Member of NFL’s All-Decade Team of 1980s … Intercepted multiple passes in each of seven NFL seasons … Led team in interceptions four times (1982, 1983, 1984, 1987) … Career stats: 32 interceptions, 538 yards and 3 TDs … Also had 8 career sacks and returned 26 punts for 302 yards … Born January 15, 1959 in Chesapeake, Virginia.
Owner, President & General Manager … Arkansas … 1989-Present Dallas Cowboys … Purchased Cowboys in 1989 and quickly restored winning tradition to franchise … Has led Cowboys to unprecedented success on and off the field … Leadership in sports marketing and promotion has influenced landscape of NFL and America’s sports culture … Became first owner in league history to win three Super Bowls in first seven years of ownership … Cowboys made seven playoff appearances, six division titles and wins in Super Bowls XXVII, XVIII and XXX in Jones’ first decade of owning team … Dallas has advanced to postseason 13 times under Jones … Cowboys have posted 10 wins in a season 12 times during Jones era … Led franchise to NFC Eastern Division titles five straight seasons, 1992-96 .. Also won NFC East crowns in 1998, 2007, 2009, 2014 and 2016 … Vision was driving influence in the creation and development of AT&T stadium, “crown jewel” of all sports venues … Continues to provide leadership for NFL in areas of marketing, sponsorship, television, stadium management, labor negotiations and television … Leadership has shaped and enhanced NFL’s standing as world’s premiere sports league … Co-captain of national champion Arkansas Razorbacks, 1964 …Born October 13, 1942 in Los Angeles, California.
Defensive End … 6-6, 260 … Akron … 1997-2007, 2009, 2011 Miami Dolphins, 2008 Washington Redskins, 2010 New York Jets … 15 seasons, 233 games … Drafted in 3rd round (73rd overall) by Dolphins in 1997 NFL Draft … Registered double-digit sack total in a season six times over an eight-year span (2000-07) … Earned NFL Defensive Player of the Year in Honors in 2006 after recording 13.5 sacks, two interceptions returned for TDs (20 yards vs. Bears and 51 yards vs. Vikings), 11 passes defensed, 10 forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and 62 tackles … Returned fumble career-long and team-record 85 yards for TD vs. Broncos, Sept. 11, 2005 … Led NFL with career-high 18.5 sacks, 2002 … Recorded more sacks than any player in NFL from 2000-2011 … Career statistics: 139.5 sacks; 8 interceptions for 110 yards and 3 TDs; league record-tying 29 opponents’ fumbles recovered; NFL record 6 TDs on fumble recoveries; and 3 safeties (two with Dolphins, one as a member of Jets) … Voted to six Pro Bowls … Named first-team All-Pro in 2000, 2002 and 2006 … All-AFC four times (2000, 2002, 2004, 2006)… Picked as Dolphins Most Valuable Player four times … Named to NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 2000s … Born September 1, 1974 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Running Back … 5-10, 221 … Texas Christian … 2001-09 San Diego Chargers, 2010-11 New York Jets … 11 seasons, 170 games … Selected by Chargers in 1st round (5th player overall) of 2001 NFL Draft … Sensational rookie season with 1,236 yards and 10 TD rushing plus 59 receptions for 367 yards … Eclipsed 1,600-yard mark in back-to-back seasons, 2002-03 … Rushed for 1,000 yards in each of first eight NFL seasons … Scored 10 or more rushing TDs each of nine seasons with Chargers … Captured back-to-back rushing titles, 2006-07 … Named NFL’s 2006 Most Valuable Player with leading-leading and career-high 1,815 yards and 28 touchdowns rushing in addition to 56 catches for 508 yards and 3 TDs to set NFL record with 31 touchdowns and 186 points in a season … Hauled in 100 receptions in 2003 … Set NFL record with rushing touchdown in 18 straight games (2004-05) … All-Pro four straight seasons (2004-07) … Named Chargers Most Valuable Player five times … Voted to five Pro Bowls over six-season span … Rushed for 13,684 career yards on 3,174 carries and scored 145 rushing touchdowns … Added 4,772 yards on 624 catches and 17 TD receptions … Also threw 7 TD passes … Named to NFL’s All-Decade Team of 2000s … Born June 23, 1979 in Rosebud, Texas.
Quarterback … 6-2, 220 … Northern Iowa … 1998-2003 St. Louis Rams, 2004 New York Giants, 2005-09 Arizona Cardinals … 12 seasons, 124 games … Not drafted in the NFL … Originally signed by and then released by Green Bay Packers in 1994 … Went on to play in Arena Football League with Iowa Barnstormers (1995-97) … Returned to NFL with Rams as free agent and allocated to NFL Europe’s Amsterdam Admirals … Returned to Rams in 1998 … Went on to become a two-time NFL MVP (1999 and 2001) and named Super Bowl XXXIV MVP after leading Rams to victory 23-16 victory over Tennessee Titans … Set Super Bowl record with 414 passing yards … He recorded another MVP season two years later when he guided Rams back to the Super Bowl … His season totals included a league-leading and career-high 4,830 yards and 36 touchdowns to post a 101.4 passer rating … Warner made a third trek to the Super Bowl in 2008 season when he led Arizona Cardinals to franchise’s first division title since 1975 and first-ever Super Bowl appearance … Only quarterback to throw for 300 or more yards in three Super Bowls … A four-time Pro Bowl choice, led NFL in average gain per attempt, three times … Had highest passer rating and led NFL in TD passes twice … Born June 22, 1971 in Burlington, Iowa.
With every class there are questions on how the members were chosen, but more importantly for many fans and those players who were left off asking, why? While the committee doesn’t reveal why, here is the process the selection committee went through as reported by the NFL Communications/NFL Media.
The first order of business for the Selection Committee at Saturdays meeting was to discuss and debate the merits of the Senior Finalist, Easley. He was required to receive at least an 80 percent positive vote to earn election. Next, the careers of Jones and Paul Tagliabue, this year’s Contributor Finalists, were reviewed. Like all other Finalists, the Contributor Finalists need a minimum 80 percent positive vote to be elected. Tagliabue did not receive the necessary 80 percent positive vote.
The Selection Committee then presented and reviewed the 15 Modern-Era Finalists that included two cut downs in the process. The first cut of finalists was from 15 to 10. The five eliminated from consideration at that point were Isaac Bruce, Don Coryell, Alan Faneca, Joe Jacoby and Terrell Owens. The final 10 finalists were reduced to five. Removed at that point were Tony Boselli, Brian Dawkins, Ty Law, John Lynch and Kevin Mawae. More than 120 Gold Jackets (living Hall of Famers) return to the Hall of Fame each year to be a part of the celebration.