Analysis. History. Perspective.

Sports Then and Now




Four Cowboys Among Twenty-Eight Inductees Set to be Recognized at the Pro Football Hall of Fame

Posted on August 04, 2021 by Chris Kent
Football fans from everywhere will be flocking to the Pro Football Hall of Fame for the annual induction ceremonies and festivities taking place August 5-9.

With 17 enshrinees in the Pro Football Hall of Fame among players, coaches, and executives who spent their whole careers or made their primary contribution with the franchise, the Dallas Cowboys have always been well represented in Canton, Ohio. This coming weekend of Aug. 7-8, three more primary Cowboys and a fourth who spent only one season in Dallas will be enshrined in the hallowed hall where their busts and bios will be preserved forever. These four Cowboys are part of 19 individuals who will be officially inducted this year. Dallas is one of several franchises with multiple enshrinees this year. Other franchises with multiple inductees who have at least some ties to them include the Pittsburgh Steelers, Indianapolis Colts, Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders, Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, and Green Bay Packers among others. Both the classes of 2020 and 2021 are being inducted this summer due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic that forced the 2020 enshrinement to be cancelled. The two classes total 28 inductees, nine who were elected posthumously. Special video tributes of these nine will be shown between the live speeches during the two enshrinement ceremonies. Each of them were enshrined in a separate ceremony on April 28 at the Hall of Fame.

Jimmy Johnson, Harold Carmichael, Cliff Harris, and Drew Pearson are the four former Cowboys being inducted this weekend who played or coached in Dallas. Harris and Pearson played their entire careers with the Cowboys and were teammates for much of the 1970s when Dallas appeared in five Super Bowls and won two. Johnson made his mark as head coach of the Cowboys for five seasons from 1989-93 leading them to the franchise’s only back-to-back Super Bowl Championships following the 1992 and ’93 seasons. Johnson also was the head coach of the Miami Dolphins from 1996-99. Carmichael played only one season for Dallas which came in 1984, his final season as a pro after playing 13 years for the Philadelphia Eagles.

This quartet of three players and one coach brings a strong Cowboy flavor to this year’s Hall of Fame enshrinement week which takes place August 5-9 at the Hall of Fame in Canton, OH. Promoted as the Greatest Gathering in Football, it will feature autograph sessions for both the 2020 Centennial Hall of Fame Class and the 2021 Hall of Fame Class on Aug. 5 and 7 respectively, the annual hall of fame game on Aug. 5 featuring Dallas against Pittsburgh, as well as the enshrinement festival fashion show and luncheon on Aug. 6. Also included will be the Canton Repositroy Grand Parade featuring 2020 and ’21 enshrinees along with past hall of famers, an autograph session with returning hall of famers, and the two enshrinement ceremonies with the class of 2020 on Aug. 7 and the class of 2021 on Aug. 8. An enshrinees roundtable in which the new enshrinees will share stories and memories of their careers will take place before the enshrinement week comes to an end with the concert for legends featuring Brad Paisley and Lynyrd Skynyrd on Aug. 9.
These celebrations bring the same glamour and glitz that these four former Cowboys brought to professional football. Through their brains, brawn, or both, they each made Dallas better and gave reason for the light to shine bright on the Cowboys and the city of Dallas, TX. Here is a look at the careers of these four former Cowboys.

Harold Carmichael – Class of 2020 (Centennial Slate Enshrinee, Senior)
Wide Receiver – Philadelphia Eagles, 1971-1983; Dallas Cowboys, 1984

Harold Carmichael used his size and strength to wreak havoc on defenders.

Born in Jacksonville, FL, Carmichael attended Southern University before being drafted in the seventh round with the 161st overall pick by the Philadelphia Eagles in 1971. Although he played 13 of his 14 seasons for Philadelphia, he spent his final year in Dallas. At 6-8 and 225 pounds he brought height, size, and strength to the position making him a difficult target to defend. While Carmichael was at the end of his career by the time he joined the Cowboys in 1984, he had helped pave the way for the big and physical receivers that we have seen emerge in the decades since. Carmichael had only one catch for seven yards in Dallas. He made his mark in Philadelphia where he was a key member of Eagles’ teams that made four straight playoff trips from 1978-1981. During his career in Philadelphia, Carmichael led the Eagles in receptions and receiving yards seven times, eclipsing the 1,000-yard mark three times. Carmichael’s 67 catches for 1,116 yards in 1973 lead the NFL and were career highs and team records at the time. Carmichael caught a pass in 127 straight games from 1972-80, establishing a then-NFL record. Named to the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 1970s, Carmichael was selected to four Pro Bowls and was named a First-Team All-Pro in 1973. Carmichael finished his career with 590 receptions for 8,985 yards and 79 touchdowns. He also threw one touchdown pass.

Cliff Harris – Class of 2020 (Centennial Slate Enshrinee, Senior)
Free Safety – Dallas Cowboys, 1970-79

Cliff Harris provided a strong presence at safety in the Dallas secondary for 10 seasons.

A mainstay of the Cowboys’ “Doomsday Defense” of the 1970s, Cliff Harris played 10 seasons for Dallas at free safety. While Harris was passed on in the 1970 draft, the Cowboys’ scouting department and coaching staff decided he was worth a free agent tryout after watching film of his college playing days at tiny Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, AR. Dallas then signed Harris as a free agent. Harris earned a starting spot as a rookie before that season was interrupted by obligatory military service. Harris returned in time for training camp in 1971 and regained his starting role which he would not relinquish until he retired after the 1979 season. Harris was known for his hard-hitting style of play that earned him the nickname “Captain Crash.” Harris teammed with Charlie Waters giving the Cowboys one of the finest set of safeties in the league in the 1970s.

Harris helped Dallas win seven division titles and advance to the playoffs every season but one during his career. A defensive leader, Harris played in 21 playoff games including seven NFC Championship games and five Super Bowls. He had 29 career interceptions for 281 yards and one touchdown. The Cowboys also used him on special teams where he returned 66 punts for 418 yards and 63 kickoffs for 1,622 yards. Selected First-Team All-Pro four straight seasons from 1975-78, Harris was also All-NFC five times and was voted to six consecutive Pro Bowls. Born in Fayetteville, AR on Nov. 12, 1948, Harris was named to the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 1970s.

Jimmy Johnson – Class of 2020 (Centennial Slate Enshrinee, Coach)
Head Coach – Dallas Cowboys, 1989-1993; Miami Dolphins, 1996-99

After a highly successful college coaching career spanning more than two decades that peaked with a national championship at the University of Miami in 1987, Johnson was lured by Arkansas oilman Jerry Jones, his former college teammate at the University of Arkansas, to become Dallas’ head coach in February of 1989. Jones had just bought the Cowboys and had become the new owner in Dallas. Along with Jones, Johnson rebuilt the Cowboys taking them from 1-15 in 1989 to the playoffs and a wild card victory two seasons later in 1991. The next two seasons brought back-to-back Super Bowl Championships during which Dallas went 25-7 in the regular season and a perfect 6-0 in the postseason. While a power struggle with Jones lead Johnson to leave his post as head coach in March of 1994, Johnson had restored the glory to the Cowboys.

Jimmy Johnson rebuilt the Dallas Cowboys leading them to back-to-back Super Bowl titles in the 1990’s.

Johnson’s brilliance in recognizing talent was a key in taking Dallas from the bottom of the league to the very top. He and Jones orchestrated one of the most significant trades in NFL history when they dealt their best player in running back Herschel Walker to the Minnesota Vikings in October of 1989 for six high draft picks and several Vikings’ players like cornerback Issac Holt and linebacker Jesse Solomon who helped immediately. The six high draft picks included the Vikings’ first and second round picks in 1990, ’91, and ’92. Johnson and the Cowboys used two of those picks to select running back Emmitt Smith and safety Darren Woodson, cornerstone players of Dallas teams that went on to win three Super Bowls in the 1990’s. Smith still holds the NFL’s all-time rushing record and is a hall-of-famer while Woodson is the Cowboys’ all-time leading tackler. Johnson also turned one of the Vikings’ draft picks into defensive tackle Russell Maryland who Dallas drafted with the top overall pick in 1991 following a trade with New England. An eye for talent and finding value in later round draft picks from even smaller schools was Johnson’s hallmark. This showed with other key players he drafted in 1991 such as wide receiver Alvin Harper with a second pick in the first round, linebacker Dixon Edwards in the second round, and offensive tackle Erik Williams from the small school of Central State (OH) in the third round. Defensive end Leon Lett from Emporia St (KS) was taken in the seventh round while cornerback Larry Brown was drafted in the 12th round. All of these players became key starters or pro bowlers. Brown’s two interceptions in Super Bowl XXX lead him to being named MVP in the Cowboys’ 27-17 win over the Steelers.

Johnson’s career record in Dallas was 44-36 in the regular season with a 7-1 postseason mark and the two Super Bowl Championships. Johnson was also named NFL Coach-of-the-Year in 1990 by the Associated Press after the Cowboys improved from 1-15 the year before to 7-9 and fell just short of the playoffs.

After two years out of coaching during which he spent time as a television analyst with FOX Sports, Johnson returned to the NFL sidelines as head coach of the Miami Dolphins in 1996. He coached the Dolphins for four seasons taking them to the playoffs three times but never advanced beyond the divisional round. Johnson was 36-28 as Miami’s head coach and 2-3 in the playoffs.

Johnson was the first coach ever to win both a college national championship and a Super Bowl. Overall, Johnson was 80-64 as a head coach in the NFL and 9-4 in the playoffs.

Drew Pearson – Class of 2021
Wide Receiver – Dallas Cowboys, 1973-1983

When it comes to clutch performers, few did it better than Drew Pearson. Undrafted out of the University of Tulsa, Pearson made the Cowboys’ roster as a free agent in 1973 based on his ability to contribute on special teams. Inserted into the starting lineup midway through his rookie season after an injury sidelined a teammate, Pearson showed signs of emerging. He started six games and finished with 22 catches for 388 yards and two touchdowns. He added a pair of touchdowns in a playoff win over the Los Angeles Rams that season.

Drew Pearson helped lift the Cowboys to prominence in the 1970s with his clutch catches in big moments of big games.

The following season, Pearson took off. He became the team’s top receiver, leading Dallas with 62 catches for 1,087 yards in 1974, the first of four consecutive seasons he lead the team in both categories. His 870 receiving yards in 1977 lead the NFL and helped the Cowboys to a victory over Denver in Super Bowl XII, one of three Super Bowls he appeared in. Pearson was selected to three Pro Bowls and was named to the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 1970s. He played on Dallas teams that won 10 or more regular season games nine times in his 11 seasons and was part of teams that won six division titles. Pearson was also named a first-team All-Pro three times by both the Associated Press and the Pro Football Writers Association in 1974, ’76, and ’77. The Cowboys’ nominee for the NFL Man of the Year Award in 1980, Pearson was voted into the Dallas Ring of Honor in 2011.

Although they have since been surpassed by names like Irvin, Witten, and Bryant, Pearson held most of the franchise’s receiving records by the time he retired after the 1983 season. At that time, Pearson was the Cowboys’ all-time leader in both receptions and receiving yards with 489 catches for 7,822 yards. He also caught 48 touchdown passes in his career.

While Pearson’s statistics and honors are impressive, they don’t tell his whole story. Pearson made an indelible mark as a wide receiver and became known as “Mr. Clutch” for his numerous big plays in big moments of big games. None was bigger or more famous in Dallas and NFL history than his fabled game-wnning 50-yard touchdown catch from Roger Staubach that beat the Minnesota Vikings in the 1975 NFC Divisional Playoffs. The play gave rise to the term “Hail Mary” pass. Pearson’s game-winning touchdown pass against the Los Angeles Rams in a 1973 playoff game and his game-winning touchdown pass from reserve quarterback Clint Longley in the 1974 Thanksgiving Day game against Washington added to his clutch reputation. Furthermore, all three of these plays were cited on the list of the Top 75 Plays in NFL History by NFL Films in 1994. Pearson was also involved in a fourth iconic play in NFL history when he threw the final block for Tony Dorsett’s then NFL record 99-yard touchdown run against Minnesota in 1983. Pearson’s several clutch receptions also keyed a comeback victory at Atlanta in the 1980 playoffs. His big-game reputation was seen over his 22 career postseason games during which he caught 68 passes for 1,131 yards and 8 touchdowns. Time and time again, Pearson came up with the big play when the Cowboys needed it the most which cemented his status in both the history of the franchise and the NFL.

In one way or another, all of the inductees in these two classes have an elite history based on the contributions they made to professional football and the ensuing recognition they received. The other 24 inductees among the two classes include the nine posthumous enshrinees and 15 others who all left a significant footprint on the NFL.

Those who have past away include eight inductees from the class of 2020 along with one from the class of 2021. They are Bobby Dillon, Duke Slater, Mac Speedie, Winston Hill, Alex Karras, Ed Sprinkle, Steve Sabol, and George Young from the Class of 2020. The only deceased inductee in the Class of 2021 is Bill Nunn.


The other 15 inductees include nine from the Class of 2020 and six from the class of 2021. Steve Atwater, Isaac Bruce, Steve Hutchinson, Edgerrin James, Troy Polamalu, Donnie Shell, Bill Cowher, Jimbo Covert, and Paul Tagliabue are included in the class of 2020. Peyton Manning and Charles Woodson headline the rest of the class of 2021 along with Alan Faneca, Calvin Johnson, John Lynch, and Tom Flores.


Here is a look at the careers of the other 24 inductees and how they left their stamp on the game. Starting with the nine posthumous inductees and continuing with the classes of 2020 and ’21, the enshrinees are listed in alphabetical order by last name.


POSTHUMOUS INDUCTEES

Bobby Dillon – Class of 2020 (Centennial Slate Enshrinee, Senior)
Safety – Green Bay Packers, 1952-59

Bobby Dillon was known for intercepting passes.

Dillon played safety for the Green Bay Packers for eight seasons in the 1950’s during which he was a first-team All-NFL selection five straight seasons and was named to four consecutive Pro Bowls. Despite losing an eye in a childhood accident, Dillon became one of the NFL’s premier pass interceptors. He had an interception every season of his career and lead the Packers in interceptions every season but one. Dillon still holds Green Bay’s record for career interceptions with 52. He had nine interceptions in a season three times and seven picks in a season twice. Dillon’s four interceptions on Thanksgiving Day against Detroit on Nov. 26, 1953 is still tied for the NFL single-game record.


Winston Hill – Class of 2020 (Centennial Slate Enshrinee, Senior)
Offensive Tackle – New York Jets, 1963-1976; Los Angeles Rams, 1977

Hill was one of the game’s top tackles during his career with the New York Jets.

Noted as as one of the game’s best pass protectors, Hill was a key leader on the New York Jets offensive line that blocked for hall-of-famer Joe Namath helping him become pro-football’s first 4,000-yard passer in 1967. His durability, size, and strength allowed him to become a dominant tackle during his era. Hill started at left tackle in the Jets’ upset of the Colts in Super Bowl III and was elected to eight AFL All-Star Games/Pro Bowls during his 15 seasons. At the time of his retirement, Hill had played in 195 consecutive career games and made 174 consecutive starts, both Jets’ records. Named an All-Pro and All-AFL performer in 1969, Hill followed that up in the 1970s with five straight selections to the All-AFC team from 1970-74.

Alex Karras – Class of 2020 (Centennial Slate Enshrinee, Senior)
Defensive Tackle – Detroit Lions, 1958-1962, 1964-1970

Karras missed just one game during his 12 seasons.

A durable defensive tackle who started 153 consecutive games for the Detroit Lions, Karras had four interceptions, 17 fumble recoveries, and one safety while being a dominant force in his era. Karras was named a First-Team All-Pro four times and was named to the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 1960’s.

His durability was reflected in the fact that he missed just one game during his 12-year career. During his career, Karras lead a Detroit defense that finished second in the league in points allowed three times that resulted in the team’s best season won-loss records.

Bill Nunn – Class of 2021
Scout/Player Personnel – Pittsburgh Steelers, 1968-2013

Bill Nunn was described a “Super Scout” during his 45 years with the Steelers.

Nunn was a football pioneer who decades ago forged an astute reputation through his work as a sportswriter and managing editor at the Pittsburgh Courier, one of the most influential black publications in the country at the time for focusing on historically black colleges and universities. Through his tireless work, Nunn developed many relationships and much knowledge about HBCU players. This knowledge and the relationships he formed lead Nunn to become a Scout and later the Assistant Director of Player Personnel for the Pittsburgh Steelers from 1968-2013. Nunn was instrumental in helping to turn Pittsburgh into a dynasty in the 1970’s when the team won four Super Bowls aided by the players he brought in such as Shell, Mel Blount, and John Stallworth, all from HBCU’s. Nunn was enshrined in the Steelers’ Hall of Honor in 2018.

Steve Sabol – Class of 2020 (Centennial Slate Enshrinee, Contributor)
Administrator/President – NFL Films, 1964-2012

At NFL Films, Steve Sabol brought pro football into view like never before.

For nearly fifty years, the pictures and stories of the NFL were documented by Steve Sabol who worked for his father Ed Sabol who founded NFL Films. Steve Sabol began his brilliant career in 1964 as a cinematographer. His artistic vision revolutionized how fans watched NFL games and led NFL Films to win over 100 Emmys. Sabol himself won 35 Emmys in more categories than any other person in television history. These included writing, cinematography, editing, directing, and producing. Named the Sports Executive-of-the-Year by the Sporting News in 2002, Sabol was honored by the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2007 as the winner of the prestigious Pioneer Award for significant innovative contributions to pro football. Sabol and his father are only the third father-son duo to be elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame joining the tandems of Art and Dan Rooney and Tim and Wellington Mara.

Duke Slater – Class of 2020 (Centennial Slate Enshrinee, Senior)
Offensive Tackle – Chicago Cardinals, 1926-31

Slater was named
All-NFL four times.

Slater made his mark as an offensive tackle for the Chicago Cardinals in the 1920s when he blocked for hall of famers such as Fritz Pollard, Jim Thorpe, and Ernie Nevers. Slater was named All-NFL four times during his 10 seasons and was also named Second Team All-NFL by various outlets in seven seasons.

One of the school’s most heralded athletes, Slater was an All-American at the University of Iowa. Slater also played the full 60 minutes on Thanksgiving Day in 1929 when he helped block for Nevers who scored 40 points, an NFL single-game record which still stands today.


Mac Speedie – Class of 2020 (Centennial Slate Enshrinee, Senior)
Defensive End/Split End – Cleveland Browns, 1946-52

Mac Speedie was named All-Pro three times.

Initially a defensive end for the Cleveland Browns, Speedie was converted to a receiver where he totaled 349 catches for 5,602 yards and 33 touchdowns. Speedie was named All-Pro three times and is a member of the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 1940s. Speedie played on Browns teams that finished first every season of his career and he played in six league championship games. During the four-year history of the All-American Football Conference in the 1940’s, Speedie set every major receiving record including leading the conference in receptions three times and receiving yards twice with totals that eclipsed 1,000 yards. Speedie was also named All-NFL twice and was named to the All-All-American Football Conference team four times.


Ed Sprinkle – Class of 2020 (Centennial Slate Enshrinee, Senior)
Defensive End/Linebacker/Split End – Chicago Bears, 1944-1955

Sprinkle was voted to four Pro Bowls.

A defensive end and linebacker for the Bears in the 1940s and 50s, Sprinkle was one of the most feared players of his era, mostly at defensive end. Sprinkle was named a First-Team All-Pro in 1949 and was voted to four Pro Bowls. Regarded as one of the first to gain fame in rushing the passer, Sprinkle was hard-hitting. In 1946, Sprinkle helped lead Chicago to an 8-2-1 record followed by a 24-14 victory over the New York Giants in the NFL Championship Game. Sprinkle was also a First Team All-NFL selection in 1950.

George Young – Class of 2020 (Centennial Slate Enshrinee, Contributor)
General Manager – New York Giants, 1979-1997; Executive – NFL Front Office, 1998-2001

George Young helped the New York Giants win two Super Bowls.

Young was another big contributor with most of his career spent with the New York Giants and the NFL front office. As General Manger of the Giants, Young rebuilt the team by hiring hall-of-famer Bill Parcells as head coach and drafting key players such as Phil Simms and Lawrence Taylor. His tenure with New York produced eight trips to the playoffs and victories with the Giants in Super Bowls XXI and XXV. Young was named NFL Executive-of-the-Year five times while with New York. After the 1997 season, Young worked in the NFL front office as Executive Vice-President of Football Operations. Prior to joining the Giants in 1979, Young worked for the Baltimore Colts from 1968-1974 serving as a scout, offensive line coach, director of player personnel, and offensive coordinator. Young also was director of personnel and pro scouting with the Miami Dolphins from 1975-78.

CLASS OF 2020 INDUCTEES

Steve Atwater – Class of 2020
Safety – Denver Broncos, 1989-1998; New York Jets, 1999

Atwater helped Denver win two Super Bowls.

A hard-hitting free safety, Atwater was a mainstay in the Denver defense in the 1990s during which he was elected to eight Pro Bowls. Atwater lead the Broncos in tackles in 1993 and ’95. He recorded 24 career picks with one touchdown and was named to the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 1990s.

Atwater started in four AFC Championship games and three Super Bowls helping the Broncos win back-to-back league titles in 1997 and ’98. Named All-Pro twice, he was also All-AFC six times. Atwater had a career high five interceptions in 1991 and recorded over 1,000 career tackles.

Isaac Bruce – Class of 2020
Wide Receiver – St. Louis Rams, 1994-2007; San Francisco 49ers, 2008-09

Bruce, shown here in Super Bowl XXXIV, breaks away for the game-winning touchdown.

Bruce made a giant impact as a game-breaking wide receiver for the St. Louis Ram’s “Greatest Show on Turf.” Voted to four Pro Bowls, Bruce totaled 1,024 receptions for 15,208 yards and 91 touchdowns in his career. His 73-yard touchdown catch gave the Rams a 23-16 lead with 1:54 left to play as St. Louis held on to defeat Tennessee in Super Bowl XXXIV. A four-time Pro Bowler, Bruce was named All-Pro in 1999. Bruce had eight 1,000-yard seasons and had 12 seasons of 50 or more catches. He retired as the Rams all-time leader in receptions, receiving yards, and yards from scrimmage.

Jimbo Covert – Class of 2020 (Centennial Slate Enshrinee, Senior)
Offensive Tackle – Chicago Bears, 1983-1990

Covert helped the Bears to a victory in Super Bowl XX.

Covert played eight seasons for the Chicago Bears at tackle. Covert made an immediate impact starting all 16 games as a rookie in 1983 when he helped clear the way for future hall of fame running back Walter Payton who ran for 1,421 yards that season. It was the first of four straight seasons that Covert helped the Bears lead the NFL in rushing. Covert anchored an offensive line that helped Chicago win six division titles in a seven-year span. He was part of a unit that paved the way for a 1,000-yard rusher every season of his career but one. Part of the Bear’s Super Bowl XX championship team, Covert was voted to two Pro Bowls, one coming in 1986 when he was also named Offensive Lineman-of-the-Year. Covert also earned consensus First-Team All-Pro honors in 1985 and 1986 and was a four-time All NFC selection. He was also named to the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 1980s.

Bill Cowher – Class of 2020 (Centennial Slate Enshrinee, Coach)
Head Coach – Pittsburgh Steelers, 1992-2006

Intense on the sidelines, Bill Cowher coached the Steelers to victory in Super Bowl XL.

Cowher succeeded the only head coach the Pittsburgh Steelers ever knew when he replaced four-time Super Bowl Champion Chuck Noll in 1992. Cowher took the Steelers to the playoffs 10 times and won eight division titles during his 15 years at the helm.

He took Pittsburgh to a pair of Super Bowls with his 2005 team becoming the first sixth seed in NFL playoff history to win a championship after defeating Seattle 21-10 in Super Bowl XL. Named NFL Coach-of-the-Year in 1992 and 2004, Cowher had an overall record of 161-99-1 including the playoffs.

Steve Hutchinson – Class of 2020
Guard – Seattle Seahawks, 2001-05; Minnesota Vikings, 2006-2011; Tennessee Titans, 2012

Hutchinson manned the trenches for three teams over his 12-year career.

A model of consistency, Hutchinson excelled over 12 seasons spanning time with the Seattle Seahawks, Minnesota Vikings, and Tennessee Titans. In Seattle, Hutchinson paved the way for 2005 NFL MVP Shaun Alexander who gained a team record 1,880 yards rushing and an NFL-record 28 touchdowns. After signing with the Vikings as a free agent in 2006, he continued his elite blocking in paving the way for Adrian Peterson to become the first Minnesota player to lead the NFL in rushing after racking up a then team record 1,760 yards in 2008. Hutchinson was named All-Pro six times and was voted to seven consecutive Pro Bowls.

Edgerrin James – Class of 2020
Running Back – Indianapolis Colts, 1999-2005; Arizona Cardinals, 2006-08; Seattle Seahawks, 2009

James won two NFL rushing titles during his career.

James made an immediate impact for the Indianapolis Colts winning the NFL rushing title each of his first two seasons including a career-best 1,709 yards in 2000. James finished his career rushing for 12,246 yards on 3,028 carries with 80 touchdowns. He also had 433 catches for 3,364 yards and 11 touchdowns and was named to the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 2000s. James was also elected to four Pro Bowls and was voted All-Pro three times during his career. The team’s leading rusher in six of his seven seasons in Indianapolis, James also helped the Colts win four division titles and record six seasons of 10 or more wins. Named the NFL Rookie-of-the-Year in 1999, James was the fourth overall pick in that spring’s draft.

Troy Polamalu – Class of 2020
Safety – Pittsburgh Steelers, 2003-2014

Polamalu helped Pittsburgh win two Super Bowls while making three trips.

A gifted athlete, Polamalu was a premier safety during his career with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Named to the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 2000s, Polamalu was a defensive leader who helped guide Pittsburgh to seven playoff appearances, five division titles, and two Super Bowl championships during his career. Named AP Defensive Player-of-the-Year in 2010, Polamalu had 32 interceptions in his career and was voted to eight Pro Bowls. His strong all-around performance in the 2008 AFC Championship Game featured a 40-yard interception return for a touchdown that propelled the Steelers to Super Bowl Bowl XLIII and an eventual victory over Arizona. Polamalu started in four AFC title games and three Super Bowls.

Donnie Shell – Class of 2020 (Centennial Slate Enshrinee, Senior)
Safety – Pittsburgh Steelers, 1974-1987

Shell was a four-time Super Bowl Champion with Pittsburgh in the 1970s.

Part of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Steel Curtain defense in the 1970s, Shell played 14 seasons, all with the Steelers. Shell played in six AFC Championship games and was a four-time Super Bowl champion. Shell recorded five or more interceptions in a season six straight years from 1979-1984, posting career bests with seven in both 1980 and 1984.

In a 1981 game against Cleveland, Shell recorded a personal best three interceptions. During his career, Shell lead or shared the team lead for interceptions in a season five times. A five-time Pro Bowler, Shell finished his career with 51 interceptions for 490 yards and was named All-AFC twice.

Paul Tagliabue – Class of 2020 (Centennial Slate Enshrinee, Contributor)
Commissioner – NFL, 1989-2006

Paul Tagliabue oversaw the NFL’s expansion to 32 teams.

The league’s former commissioner, Tagliabue did much to grow the NFL during his tenure. After succeeding Pete Rozelle in 1989, Tagliabue was pivotal in expansion as the league grew from 28 to 32 teams. Under Tagliabue, the league secured the largest television contracts in entertainment history totaling over $25 billion. Tagliabue’s tenure was also marked by nearly two decades of labor peace with the NFL Players Association. Tagliabue was influential in establishing the NFL as a global brand and under his leadership a league wide internet network and subscriber-based NFL TV Network was created. Tagliabue spent 17 years as commissioner during which the league supported some 20 new stadium construction projects.

CLASS OF 2021 INDUCTEES

Alan Faneca – Class of 2021
Guard – Pittsburgh Steelers, 1998-2007; New York Jets, 2008-09; Arizona Cardinals, 2010

Alan Faneca was a fixture at guard as he cleared the way for future hall-of-famer Jerome Bettis.

At 6-4 and 322 pounds, Alan Faneca was a rugged guard on the Pittsburgh Steeler’s offensive line. Although he saw limited action in his first game as a rookie in 1998, that would change as he saw more action over the next several weeks. By week six he was inserted into the starting lineup. Faneca was a welcome addition as he helped clear the way for future hall of fame running back Jerome Bettis. Faneca became a fixture as a starting guard and would miss only two starts over the rest of his 206-game career. By 2001, Faneca’s skills had helped Pittsburgh produce the third ranked total offense, a 13-3 record, and the team’s first division title in four years. Faneca helped the Steelers’ post 10-plus wins five times in his 10 seasons. Faneca, who also played two seasons for the NY Jets and his final season for the Arizona Cardinals, was elected to nine Pro Bowls, named All-Pro six times, and is a member of the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 2000s.

Tom Flores – Class of 2021
Head Coach – Oakland Raiders, 1979-1987; Seattle Seahawks, 1992-94

Tom Flores won two Super Bowls as head coach of the Raiders.

When you think of paying your dues in life, Tom Flores comes to mind. After graduating from the University of the Pacific in 1958, Flores struggled to find a job in pro football. After landing jobs to play quarterback with Oakland, Buffalo, and Kansas City during the 1960s, Flores turned to coaching after retiring as a player in 1970. He was hired as an assistant coach with Buffalo in 1971 before serving in the same capacity with Oakland from 1972-78. In 1979, Flores was named to his first head-coaching job as he succeeded John Madden as head coach of the Raiders. After a 9-7 finish his first season, he guided Oakland to an 11-5 mark in his second season that culminated with a victory over Philadelphia in Super Bowl XV. The win made him the first minority head coach to win a world championship. Three seasons later, Flores won a second Super Bowl with the Raiders in a 38-9 victory over Washington in Super Bowl XVIII. Flores coached Oakland for nine seasons before working in an administrative capacity for them in 1988.

From 1989 to 1994, Flores was the President and General Manger of the Seattle Seahawks who he also served as the head coach for from 1992-94. In 12 seasons as an NFL head coach, Flores had an overall record of 105-90 including the playoffs. Flores was also named the AFC Coach-of-the-Year in 1982 by both the Pro Football Writers Association and United Press International.

Calvin Johnson – Class of 2021
Wide Receiver – Detroit Lions, 2007-2015

Calvin Johnson lead the NFL in receiving yards in 2011 and 2012.

Calvin Johnson was a dynamic athlete on offense. Known as “Megatron” for his robotic like abilities on the field, Johnson played his entire nine-year career for the Detroit Lions. Johnson’s 731 catches for 11,619 yards are both Detroit career records and he had 83 touchdown catches. Selected with the second overall pick in the 2007 NFL draft, Johnson had seven 1,000-yard receiving seasons and led the NFL in receiving yards in 2011 and 2012.

At the time of his retirement in 2015, Johnson’s 1,964 receiving yards in 2012 was an NFL record as was his eight consecutive games of 100-yards receiving. Johnson was elected to six consecutive Pro Bowls, was named First-Team All-Pro three times, and was named to the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 2010s. Johnson started in 130 of his 135 career games.

John Lynch – Class of 2021
Safety – Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 1993-2003; Denver Broncos, 2004-07

Lynch was named to nine Pro Bowls and helped the Buccaneers win Super Bowl XXXVII.

A hard-hitting safety with a knack for playmaking, John Lynch was a vital piece to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ defense that was one of the best ever. A third-round draft pick out of Stanford in 1993, Lynch was an anchor in the Tampa Bay secondary. By his fourth season in 1996, Lynch had earned a starting spot and would go on to record more than 100 tackles with three interceptions that season. Lynch was named to his first Pro Bowl after the 1997 season, the first of nine in his career. By 2002 Lynch was a perennial leader on a defense that lead the Buccaneers to their first Super Bowl title. Lynch made 96 tackles including 50 solo to go along with three interceptions and 12 passes defensed as Tampa Bay went 12-4 and beat Oakland 48-21 in Super Bowl XXXVII. Lynch was credited with 90 or more tackles in a season nine times and finished his career with more than 1,000 tackles to go with 26 interceptions and 13 sacks.

Peyton Manning – Class of 2021
Quarterback – Indianapolis Colts, 1998-2010; Denver Broncos, 2012-15

Manning had an iconic career with both Indianapolis and Denver while winning one Super Bowl with each team.

Manning was drafted number one overall by the Indianapolis Colts in 1998 and quickly began to turn them around. After a 3-13 rookie season and a last place finish in the AFC East, Manning and the Colts did the opposite in 1999 going 13-3 to win the AFC East before losing to the Super Bowl bound Titans in the divisional playoffs. The next several years would see playoff disappointments with two of them coming via losses to the eventual Super Bowl champion Patriots following both the 2003 and 2004 seasons. However in 2006, Manning and Indianapolis rose above New England, beating them 38-34 in a thrilling AFC Championship game to advance to Super Bowl XLI where they beat Chicago.

Manning played 13 seasons for the Colts and another four for the Denver Broncos after missing the entire 2011 season due to a neck injury. Manning threw for 4,000-yards in a season 14 times in his career and holds the single season NFL passing record with 5,477 yards. At the time of his retirement following the 2015 season, Manning held many of the all-time passing records for Indianapolis as well as the NFL. In his career, Manning completed 6,125 passes in 9,380 attempts for 71,940 yards and 539 touchdowns. He was selected to 14 Pro Bowls and was named NFL MVP five times by the Associated Press.

Charles Woodson – Class of 2021
Cornerback – Oakland Raiders, 1998-2005, 2013-’15; Green Bay Packers, 2006-2012

A nine-time Pro Bowler, Woodson played in two Super Bowls and won one.

Drafted fourth overall by the Raiders in 1998, Woodson capped his rookie season with a Pro Bowl berth and the AP Defensive Rookie-of-the-Year award. Woodson’s 65 career interceptions are tied for fifth in league history and he had at least one interception in each of his 18 seasons. Woodson is the co-holder of the NFL record for career defensive touchdowns with 13. He was elected to nine Pro Bowls and was named the 2009 AP Defensive Player-of-the-Year. Woodson also appeared in two Super Bowls, winning one with Green Bay during his seven years as a Packer. Woodson is one of only two players – along with hall of famer Marcus Allen – to win the Heisman Trophy, AP Rookie-of-the-Year, AP Player-of-the-Year, and a Super Bowl title during their careers. Woodson lead the NFL in interceptions twice, snagging nine in 2009 and seven in 2011. He forced 33 fumbles and recovered 18 during his career. In 2014, Woodson became the first player in NFL history to accumulate 50 interceptions and 20 sacks in a career.

Altogether, this year’s enshrinees represent some of the best players, coaches, executives, and contributors that the game has ever seen. With two classes of inductees surrounding all the other events over the course of this enshrinement week festival, it is cause for a massive celebration. Since the COVID-19 pandemic forced this annual event to be cancelled last year, the Hall of Fame has been promoting this year’s event with the slogan, “Twice the Fun in 21.” Let the festivities begin!

Credits: Pro Football Hall of Fame web site: https://www.profootballhof.com


Leave a Reply


  • Current Poll

    Who is the Best Rookie Qurterback?

    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...
  • Post Categories



↑ Top