Canton, Ohio will become the focus of the football world in early August when the Class of 2004 is officially inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on August 8.
A record crowd is expected for the enshrinement ceremony for the four newest members of the Hall – Bob "Boomer" Brown, Carl Eller, John Elway, and Barry Sanders. The enshrinement is scheduled for a 1:00 PM start and will be televised nationally by ESPN.
The Class of 2004 is a unique group of football players. Brown was widely regarded as the dominant offensive tackle of his era. Eller, the consummate pass rusher, helped the Vikings' "Purple People Eaters" gain fame. Elway led the Denver Broncos for 16 seasons and became one of the most prolific passers in NFL history. Sanders' electrifying running style helped him gain more than 1,000 yards in each of his 10 seasons with the Detroit Lions.
NFL.com: Gil Brandt's notes on the Class of 2004
Here are some notes and quotes on the Class of 2004
Class of 2004:
Is the first Hall of Fame class that each inductee has selected a family member as their presenter. Brown and Eller have chosen their sons, Elways chose his daughter, and Sanders' father will serve as his presenter.
Is the first class ever enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame that includes all first round picks. Brown and Eller were selected in the first round in 1964, Elway was the first overall pick in 1983, and Sanders was taken in the first round in the 1989 NFL Draft.
BOB "BOOMER" BROWN
Named All-NFL seven times in his 10-season career. Two of the three years he did not earn All-NFL honors, he was named second team All-NFL.
Member of the NFL's 1960s All-Decade Team
Eighth long-time member of the Philadelphia Eagles to be elected to the Hall of Fame.
Three times named the NFL/NFC's offensive lineman of the year
Selected to six Pro Bowls.
"I didn't want to be a shock absorber; I wanted to deliver the shock."
- Bob Brown about his playing style
"Bob Brown is the finest offensive lineman in pro football."
- Hall of Fame coach George Allen following 1969 trade that landed Brown with the Rams.
"When he pulls out to lead a sweep, there are two things for a guy like me to do, get out of the way or get hurt."
- Herb Adderley, Hall of Fame corneback
"Brown is just the most devastating football player I've ever seen."
- Raiders head coach John Madden, 1971
Eller joins six other Minnesota Vikings in the Hall of Fame.
Recorded 44 sacks in a period from 1975 to 1977.
Helped Vikings win 10 NFL/NFC Central Division titles in 11 years.
Named to six Pro Bowls
Won George Halas Award as the NFL's defensive player of the year, 1971
"Just figure to put on a good rush and everybody meet at the quarterback."
- Carl Eller sharing his philosophy on defense, 1969
"I think he's the best defensive end in pro football."
- Kansas City Chiefs' Aaron Brown prior to Super Bowl IV
"I have more problem in practice than against any defensive end I've faced in a game."
- Hall of Fame tackle and Vikings teammate Ron Yary commenting on practicing against Eller
"You know….he's going to make me into a good offensive tackle."
- Ron Yary
Elway is the first player to play his entire career with the Denver Broncos to earn election to the Hall of Fame.
Only player in NFL history to pass for more than 3,000 yards and rush for 200 yards in the same season seven straight years.
Was responsible for 82.2% of points scored by the Broncos during his 16-season career.
Orchestrated a record 47 fourth quarter comebacks.
Passed for 51,475 yards and 300 touchdowns
"I'm really kind of speechless to be honest with you."
John Elway upon learning of his election to the Hall of Fame
“John Elway may be one of the best all-time quarterbacks, particularly in the clutch. When the game was on the line, he was like Michael Jordan — he wanted the football. In those situations, I don’t know if I know anyone that did a better job of handling that than John did.”
Dan Reeves, Elway's former coach with Broncos
"To John Elway, football was the greatest game in the world. And to the game of football, John Elway was the greatest ambassador imaginable. He combined talent and character to become an incomparable performer and champion on the field."
- Paul Tagliabue, NFL Commissioner
"For 16 years, John Elway was the Denver Broncos."
Pat Bowlen, owner of the Denver Broncos
Sanders is the 12th Detroit Lions player, and the first since 1996, to be enshrined in the Hall of Fame.
First runner in history to rush for 1,000 yards in 10 straight seasons
First running back to record five 1,500-yard seasons, including a record four straight (1994-1997)
Named NFL's MVP in 1997 after rushing for 2,053 yards
Selected to the Pro Bowl following each of his 10 seasons
"When I think about the Hall of Fame, it seems like that's something that happens to someone else. You think Dick Butkus, Walter Payton, names of that light. To be here, I truly feel out of place."
- Barry Sanders
"You think you have a sure tackle and you don't. With Barry Sanders, you never can count on a sure tackle."
Keith Millard, former Minnesota Vikings defensive lineman
"Barry is like a little genius. Each play he runs is like an individual play which is sometimes great to watch and sometimes spectacular."
- Hall of Fame running back Jim Brown
"Don't go looking for him. Let him come to you. If you go looking for him, you'll find him – in the end zone."
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- John Mitchell, Steelers defensive line coach