The Pro Football Hall of Fame (one of my “happy places”) announced its Class of 2010 this afternoon. Included were guard Russ Grimm, linebacker Rickey Jackson, cornerback Dick LeBeau, running back Floyd Little, defensive tackle John Randle, wide receiver Jerry Rice, and running back Emmitt Smith.
Outside of Dick LeBeau, I remember seeing all these guys play. And I do know modern day Dick LeBeau as “coach” LeBeau, so that makes this a very familiar class for me. One thing I found interesting was that Rickey Jackson will be the first New Orleans Saints player inducted into the Hall. On the eve of the Saints participating in their first Super Bowl, it’s a great day in Saints history.
Here are mini bios for each player:
Guard … 6-3, 273 … Pittsburgh … 1981-1991 Washington Redskins … 11 seasons, 140 games … Selected in third round (69th player overall) in 1981 NFL Draft … Originally pegged to play center, moved to left guard as rookie … Immediate starter on line that earned nickname “The Hogs” … Teaming with tackle Joe Jacoby, formed perhaps most punishing side of an offensive line in football at the time … With Grimm’s speed and strength, Redskins rode success of dominating running attack to victory in Super Bowl XVII in which John Riggins rushed for then-record 166 yards … During playoff run that year, team averaged 152 yards rushing … Following 1983 season, Grimm was selected to first of four straight Pro Bowls … Also marked start of four consecutive years (1983-86) of All-Pro recognition … Also named All-NFC in each of those seasons … In 1987 moved to center and started five games before being sidelined until season finale with knee injury … Missed 11 games in 1988 with knee injury … Appeared in five NFC championship games and four Super Bowls including wins in Super Bowls XVII, XXII, XXVI … Elected to NFL’s 1980s All-Decade Team … Born May 2, 1959 in Scottdale, Pennsylvania.
Linebacker … 6-2, 243 … Pittsburgh … 1981-1993 New Orleans Saints, 1994-95 San Francisco 49ers … 15 playing season, 227 games … Selected by Saints in 2nd round (51st player overall) in 1981 draft … One of key players that fueled New Orleans transition from perennial losers into contenders in late 1980s … Made immediate impact as rookie when he led team with franchise rookie record eight sacks and was leading tackler … In 1983 established himself as elite pass rusher recording 12 sacks … That year marked first of six double-digit sack totals in career … Also earned Jackson first of six trips to Pro Bowl … Named first-team All-Pro 1986, 1987, 1992, 1993 … In 1987, Saints first winning season, Jackson recorded 9.5 sacks, 74 tackles, three forced fumbles, and two interceptions … Saints captured their first-ever division title in 1991 and Jackson recorded 11.5 sacks, 59 tackles, three forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries, and three passes defensed … Team never finished below .500 during Jackson’s final seven years … Jackson finished NFL career with two seasons with 49ers who converted him to defensive end and pass rush specialist … Retired after 1995 season with 128 career sacks that does not include rookie total since sack did not become official statistic until 1982 … Also intercepted eight passes during career … Born March 20, 1958 in Pahokee, Florida.
Cornerback … 6-1, 185 … Ohio State … 1959-1972 Detroit Lions … 14 playing seasons, 185 games … Selected by Cleveland Browns in 5th round (58th overall) in 1959 draft … Cut by Browns during rookie training camp … Signed with Lions, earned place in starting lineup final six games of rookie year … Didn’t miss another game until late in 1971 season … Started 171 consecutive games, an NFL record for his position … In 1960, began to make mark by intercepting four passes, starting string of 12 straight seasons with three or more interceptions … In 1963, intercepted five passes which he returned for career-high 158 yards, including 70-yard TD return against Rams … It was one of three interceptions he returned for touchdowns in career … The following year, intercepted five passes and was voted to first of three consecutive Pro Bowls … Also earned All-NFL second-team accolades, an honor earned again in 1965, 1966, 1970 … Finest season came in 1970 when he recorded NFC-leading nine interceptions for 96 yards … In all, recorded 62 picks for 762 yards … Ranked second among pure cornerbacks at retirement with 62 interceptions, third overall … Currently ranks third all-time among pure cornerbacks … Born on September 9, 1937 in London, Ohio.
Running Back … 5-10, 196 … Syracuse … 1967-1975 Denver Broncos … Nine playing seasons, 117 games … Selected by Denver in first round (6th player overall) of 1967 AFL-NFL Draft … Initially used mostly as return specialist . . . As rookie, led AFL in punt returns with 16.9 average on 16 returns … Scored only touchdown on a punt return that season in AFL, 72 yards against the Jets … Also returned career-high 35 kickoffs for 942 yards … In third year averaged league-high and career best 5.0 yards per carry rushing … In 1971, became Broncos’ first 1,000-yard rusher … Won NFL rushing title that year with 1,133 yards on 284 carries and 6 TDs … Receiving threat out of backfield, caught 25-plus passes in each of final five seasons … Had knack for finding end zone … During three-year stretch, 1971-1973 scored combined 32 TDs rushing and receiving … Named to two AFL All-Star Games, three AFC-NFC Pro Bowls … Named All-AFL/NFL twice, All-AFC first- or second-team four straight years … Amassed more than 12,000 all-purpose yards and 54 TDs … Gained 6,323 yards on 1,641 career carries, scored 43 TDs … Added 215 receptions for 2,418 yards, 9 TDs … Totaled 893 yards on 81 career punt returns, 2 TDs; returned 104 kickoffs for 2,523 yards in his nine-season career … Born July 4, 1942 in New Haven, Connecticut.
Defensive Tackle … 6-1, 278 … Trinity Valley Community College (TX); Texas A&I … 1990-2000 Minnesota Vikings, 2001-03 Seattle Seahawks … 14 playing seasons, 219 games … Little All-America pick as a senior at Texas A&I … Signed by Vikings as an undrafted free agent … Played in all 16 games as a rookie … Recorded 137.5 sacks during career . . Had eight consecutive seasons (1992-99) with 10-plus sacks and a ninth in 2001 … In 1997 had career best and league leading 15.5 sacks, and career high 71 tackles (39 solo) … Signed a free agent contract with Seahawks in 2001 and turned in one of most productive seasons in team history with 11 sacks, four forced fumbles and fumble recovery in end zone for a TD … Named first-team All-Pro/All-NFC six consecutive years (1993-98) and once All-AFC with Seahawks (2001) … Selected to play in seven Pro Bowls (1994-99, 2002) … Led Minnesota defensive line recording double digit sack totals in three of four years that Vikings won NFC Central Division titles and eight sacks in fourth … Born December 12, 1967 in Hearne, Texas.
Wide Receiver … 6-2, 200 … Mississippi Valley State … 1985-2000 San Francisco 49ers, 2001-04 Oakland Raiders, 2004 Seattle Seahawks … 20 playing seasons, 303 games … Selected by 49ers in first round (16th player overall) of 1985 draft … Averaged 18.9 yards per catch on 49 receptions for 927 yards and 3 TDs as rookie … In 1986 caught 86 passes for a league-leading 1,570 yards and led the NFL in touchdown catches with 15 … Marked first of 11 straight 1,000-yard seasons … Also recorded double-digit receiving touchdowns in nine of next 10 seasons … In 1987 set the NFL record for touchdown receptions in season with 22 … Four seasons with 100-plus catches … Led NFL in receiving yards six times including NFL record 1,848 yards in 1995 … Led NFL in touchdown receptions six times … Owns virtually every significant receiving mark including receptions (1,549); receiving yards (22,895); most 1,000-yard receiving seasons (14); total touchdowns (208); combined net yards (23,546) … Holds multiple playoff and Super Bowl records … Played in eight conference championships and four Super Bowls … Earned three Super Bowl rings with 49ers and was named MVP in Super Bowl XXIII … Named first-team All-Pro 11 consecutive seasons and voted to 13 Pro Bowls … A member of NFL’s All-Decade Teams of 1980s and 1990s and NFL’s 75th Anniversary Team … Born October 13, 1962 in Starksville, Mississippi.
Running Back … 5-9, 207 … Florida … 1990-2002 Dallas Cowboys, 2003-04 Arizona Cardinals … 15 playing seasons, 226 games … Selected by Dallas in first round (17th player overall) of 1990 draft … Rushed for 937 yards, 11 touchdowns to earn Offensive Rookie of the Year honors … Second season rushed for league-leading 1,563 yards … Won rushing crowns in 1991, 1992, 1993, 1995 … Led NFL in rushing touchdowns three times and accumulated 277 pass receptions during that same five-season period … In 1995, recorded career highs for rushing yards (1,773), rushing touchdowns (25), and receptions (62) … Major contributor to Cowboys Super Bowl XXVII, XXVIII, XXX victories … Named first-team All-Pro 1992-95 … In 1993, named NFL’s MVP and MVP in Super Bowl XXVIII … After narrowly missing the 1,000-yard mark as rookie, embarked on a record run of 11 straight seasons with 1,000 yards rushing … Streak came to end in 2002 when he missed the 1,000-yard mark by 25 yards … On Oct. 27, 2002 in game vs. Seattle Seahawks, he supplanted Walter Payton as the NFL’s all-time rushing leader … Named to NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 1990s … Career totals of 18,355 yards and a 164 touchdowns rushing, 515 receptions for 3,224 yards and 11 touchdowns … Born May 15, 1969 in Pensacola, Florida.