The NFL Pr Football Hall of Fame inducts seven NFL legends today in Canton, Ohio. Two first ballot NFL Hall of Fame inductees, Jerry Rice and Emmitt Smith will head the 2010 NFL class. Rice and Smith will be joined by three defensive players and two offensive players.
Defensive players being inducted to the NFL Pro Football Hall of Fame are, Rickey Jackson, John Randel and veteran committee inductee Dick LeBeau. Representing the offense along with Smith and Rice, legendary lineman Russ Grimm will be inducted and Floyd Little will be inducted by the veterans committee.
Wide Receiver Jerry Rice-1985-2000 San Franciso 49ers, 2000-2004 Oakland Raiders, 2004 Seattle Seahawks
Jerry Rice was a lock to get into the NFL Pro Football Hall of Fame on the first ballot. The all-time greatest wide receiver in NFL history, it was just a waiting game until his five years of eligibility passed. Rice left the NFL in 2004 with 22,895 yards and 23,540 all purpose yards and 208 touchdowns.
The numbers are staggering but the intangibles that Jerry Rice brought to his team, with his back breaking work ethic and ability to mentor young players like Terrell Owens, was invaluable. Rice ended up with three Super Bowl rings playing for the San Francisco 49ers and played in one more Super Bowl with the Oakland Raiders.
Rice not only had incredible instincts, he had breakaway speed at the point of catch. Rice and his workout routine were legendary and the routine paid off with Rice being able to make his most spectacular plays late in crucial games. The induction of Jerry Rice into the Hall of Fame today completes a life long journey for the most prolific wide receiver in NFL history.
Rice looked above for his most touching acknowledgement as he entered the NFL Pro Football Hall of Fame. Rice praised his former coach and friend, the late Bill Walsh. “Bill is the reason I played in the NFL. He was like a father to me, someone I could talk to about relationships and business or professional football. I never wanted to let my father down, and I was afraid to let Bill Walsh down. He taught us to be perfect. If you failed to be perfect, then excellence would be within your grasp. He had every gift but length of years.”
Running Back Emmitt Smith-1990-2002 Dallas Cowboys, 2003-2004 Arizona Cardinals
Emmitt Smith enters the Pro Football Hall of Fame today, not only because of his past accomplishments
but his leadership of the Dallas Cowboys during their Super Bowl era. On October 27, 2002, Smith surpassed Walter Payton’s All-Time NFL Leading Rushing Record of 16,726 yards to become the All-Time leading rusher in NFL history. Smith ended with 18,355 yards in his NFL career.
Smith becomes the last member of the famed Dallas Triplets to make the NFL Hall of Fame, quarterback Troy Aikman, wide receiver Michael Irvin and Smith. With Smith it was also a waiting game until his eligibility of five years was up.
Smith’s most memorable performance came in the last game of the 1994 season. Smith separated his shoulder and managed to play the entire second half against the New York Giants. Smith literally shouldered the load against the Giants gaining 229 combined yards, wincing in pain with every hit. The Dallas Cowboys won the NFC East title for a second straight season. Emmitt Smith’s induction to the NFL Hall of Fame, much lke Jerry Rice’s induction, adds the most prolific running back in NFL history to the Hall of Fame.
Smith spoke of his inspiration to make the NFL Hall of Fame, Walter Payton. “At the age of 21, I already knew what I needed to do in order to make my mark. I wanted to become the all-time leading rusher. I knew Walter Payton was one of the best to have ever played the game, and I wanted to achieve that level of greatness. “
Offensive Guard Russ Grimm – 1981-91 Washington Redskins
Russ Grimm, the former hog from the famous Washington Redskin line, may be the most famous of the bunch. Now focusing on his coaching career, Grimm didn’t campaign for the honor but made the NFL Pro Football Hall of Fame after waiting 19 years. Grimm played in four Super Bowls and five NFC Championship Games over his 10 year career. Grimm’s NFL Hall of Fame induction was long overdue.
Russ Grimm spoke of the fateful day that led him to be an NFL Hall of Fame lineman. “I played quarterback and linebacker in high school, I went to the University of Pitt as a linebacker. After my sophomore year, Jackie Sherrill called me into his office and told me that we had a lot of seniors graduating on the offensive line and he thought it would be an opportunity for me to switch over and play center. I told him I never had my hand in the dirt, that I’d just stay at linebacker. He lifted his eyes up and looked at me and he said, son, I’m not asking.”
Defensive Tackle John Randle – 1990-2000 Minnesota Vikings, 2001-03 Seattle Seahawks
John Randle was a vocal member of the Minnesota Vikings during a time when the Vikings were a force in the NFL. The 1998 season, Minnesota went 15-1 and lost a heart breaker in the NFL Conference Championship to the Atlanta Falcons in overtime. That season, Randle had 10.5 sacks and in his NFL career had nine seasons with double-digit sacks amassing 139 sacks over his career. Randel’s small size for his position and leadership are two factors that have led to his NFL Hall of Fame induction today.
John Randel closed his short NFL Hall of Fame induction with genuine humility. “I also am so humbled by this incredible honor which I never thought was possible. Thank you to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, everyone who played a part in electing me for making this small-town kid’s dream come true.”
Linebacker Rickey Jackson – 1981-93 New Orleans Saints, 1994-95 San Francisco 49ers
Rickey Jackson toiled with the New Orleans Saints before their glory years, but he did bring a winning attitude and desire to play hard to the New Orleans Saints. Jackson developed into the premier NFL linebacker of his day and finished his career with the San Francisco 49ers and was rewarded with his first and only NFL Super Bowl ring. Rickey Jackson is deserving of his NFL Hall of Fame induction joining a legendary collection of linebackers in the Hall of Fame.
Rickey Jackson appeared taken aback as to what he accomplished. Looking back on his fellow NFL Hall of Fame inductees, Jackson paused and said, “Football always been my life. I see that in these guys here, man. These Hall of Famers here, I just seeing how these guys carry themselves, the love they had for football.”
Dick LeBeau-1959-1972 Detroit Lions
Dick LeBeau is currently the defensive coordinator for the Pittsburgh Steelers but back in the 60’s he roamed the secondary with reckless abandon. LeBeau had 62 interceptions and nine interceptions in 1970, two seasons before he called it quits. LeBeau played in 171 consecutive NFL games and kept his same menacing attitude in every game. LeBeau is an NFL veterans committee Hall of Fame induction.
Dick LeBeau’s speech highlighted his formative years with coach Woody Hayes. “When I was at Ohio State, I played for Woody Hayes, the great Woody Hayes. I still learned something almost daily from the current head coach of the Ohio State University, Jim Tressel. Coach Tressel is a textbook on how to conduct yourself at a major college level with integrity.”
Floyd Little-1967-1975 Denver Broncos
Floyd Little was another NFL pioneer at running back, that not only was a great rusher in the NFL but was a solid threat to catch a ball coming out of the back field. Little’s numbers are hard to crunch against today’s backs. Little rushed for over 6300 yards in his career and had over 2400 yards receiving, as one of the first double threats in NFL history. Little is an NFL veterans committee Hall of Fame induction.
Floyd Little discussed the driving force that pushed relentlessly for his NFL Hall of Fame induction, writer Tom Mackie.
“No one travels this road alone. I can never have imagined the impact of a phone call I got from Tom Mackie’s wife Emily. She called asking if I would consider meeting Tom for his 40th birthday, because I was Tom’s hero. Not only did Tom and I meet, but he became the co-author of my first book, Tales from the Bronco Sideline. My biggest advocate for my NFL Pro Football Hall of Fame consideration. Now Tom is my hero. Thank you, Tom Mackie, for all you’ve done. I truly appreciate it. “
The 2010 NFL Pro Football Hall of Fame inductions will be today August 7th at Fawcett Stadium in Canton, Ohio at 7:00 PM EST. NFL Pro Football Hall of Fame Induction weekend also includes the first NFL pre-season game of the season. The Dallas Cowboys will take on the Cincinnati Bengals in the NFL Pro Football Hall of Fame Game, also in Fawcett Stadium at 8:00 PM EST.