Class of 2012 Finalists: Capsule Bios


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Running Back … 5-11, 243 … Notre Dame … 1993-95 Los Angeles/St. Louis Rams, 1996-2005 Pittsburgh Steelers
13 seasons, 192 games … Selected by Rams in 1st round (10th player overall) of 1993 draft … Earned Rookie of Year honors ... Finished rookie season with seventh best rookie rushing total in league history... As rookie finished second in rushing yards and third in total yards from scrimmage ... First Rams rookie to rush for 1,000 yards since Eric Dickerson, 1983 … Rams leading rusher 1993-95 … Steelers leading rusher 1996-2001, 2003-04 … Steelers leader in total yards from scrimmage, 1996-2001 … His fifty 100-plus yard games ranks 1st in Steelers history … At time of retirement, his eight 1,000-plus yard seasons was tied for third-best in NFL history … His 13,662 ranks fifth all-time in career rushing yards … Ranked 19th all-time in combined net yards at time of retirement … Voted to Pro Bowl six times: 1994, 1995, 1997, 1998, 2002, 2005 … Named All-Pro in 1993 (AP, PFWA), 1996 (AP); All-Pro second-team 1997 (AP); All-NFC 1993 (UPI, PW); All-AFC 1996 (UPI, PW), 1997 (PW) … Born February 16, 1972 in Detroit, Michigan.

Wide Receiver/Kick Returner … 6-0, 195 … Notre Dame … 1988-2003 Los Angeles/Oakland Raiders, 2004 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
17 seasons, 255 games … Heisman Trophy Winner … Selected by Raiders in 1st round (6th player overall) of 1988 draft … As rookie led NFL in kickoff returns, return yards, and yards per return average  …  Led NFL in receptions, 1997 … Set Raiders franchise records for receptions, receiving yards, and punt return yards … At time of retirement his 14,934 receiving yards were second-highest total in NFL history; 1,094 receptions were 3rd; and 100 touchdown catches were tied for 3rd … Also gained 190 rushing yards; 3,320 punt return yards, 3 fumble return yards; 1,235 kickoff return yards … Total of 19,682 combined net yards, 5th all-time at time of retirement … Scored 105 total touchdowns (100 receiving, 1 rushing, 3 punt returns, 1 kickoff return) … Voted to Pro Bowl nine times, 1989 and 1992 as kick returner, 1994-98, 2000 and 2002 as a receiver … All-Pro choice as a kick returner, 1988 … All-Pro wide receiver, 1997 … Was named All-AFC as a kick returner, 1988, punt returner, 1991, and wide receiver, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1997 … Born July 22, 1966 in Dallas, Texas.

Cornerback … 6-1, 200 … St. Bonaventure … 1951-59 Pittsburgh Steelers
Nine seasons, 103 games … Undrafted free agent … Established himself as one of game’s most effective cornerbacks … Ranked as NFL’s second all-time leading interceptor when he retired following 1959 season ... Known as a great tackler, showed knack for finding football in rookie campaign when he registered five interceptions … Following season led all Steelers with seven interceptions … Had nine interceptions a season later (1953) including record-tying four interceptions in game vs. Redskins … Following season added four more interceptions, two he returned for touchdowns, an NFL record at time … Despite 25 interceptions in first four seasons, accolades eluded Butler … Oddly, first of four Pro Bowl nods came following 1955 season, only year he failed to intercept a pass … In sixth season (1956), selected as second-team All-NFL choice … In 1957 picked off career-best 10 passes tying league lead and was named first-team All-NFL …  Had nine interceptions in 1958 and two interceptions in 1959 and was voted first-team All-NFL in each of those seasons … Suffered career-ending leg injury late in 1959 season … Career totals include: 52 interceptions for 827 yards, and four pick-sixes … Also had four touchdown receptions and returned one fumble for a score ... Was named to NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 1950s … Born November 12, 1927 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Wide Receiver … 6-3, 202 … Ohio State … 1987-89 Philadelphia Eagles, 1990-2001 Minnesota Vikings, 2002 Miami Dolphins
16 seasons, 234 games … Selected by Philadelphia in the fourth round of the 1987 Supplemental Draft … First reception as a pro was a 22-yard touchdown catch … Durable; he played a full 16-game season in 13 of his 16 seasons … In 2000, became only the second player in NFL history to catch 1,000 career passes … Recorded 1,000 receiving yards in a season eight straight years … Broke the 100-yard receiving plateau 42 times during his career … Ranked second on the NFL's all-time list for total receptions (1,101) and receiving touchdowns (130) at retirement … His 130 TD receptions came from 13 different passers … Caught 70-plus passes in 10 seasons … His 122 receptions in 1994 was a then-NFL single-season-record … Named to the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 1990s and received the 1999 NFL Man of the Year Award … In 2002, returned to the field when he joined the Miami Dolphins in midseason when injuries decimated team’s receiving corps … Was first- or second-team All-Pro 1994, 1995, and 1999 … Selected to play in eight Pro Bowls (1994-2001) … Born November 25, 1965, in Troy, Ohio.

Center … 6-2, 288 … Kentucky … 1988-2000 Pittsburgh Steelers
13 playing seasons, 184 games … Steelers’ second-round draft pick (44th player overall), 1988 NFL Draft … Second-team All-SEC at Kentucky … Started five of eight games played as a rookie at right guard … Missed eight weeks at midseason with knee injury … Became starting center in 1989 replacing future Hall of Famer Mike Webster … Doubled as team’s long snapper, 1988-1993 … Named Co-AFC Offensive Lineman of the Year (with Richmond Webb) by NFL Players Association, 1993 … Selected as NFL Alumni Offensive Lineman of the Year, 1996 … Played in 170 consecutive games before streak ended in 1999 due to hamstring injury … His exceptional speed and strength enabled him to do things not typical of a center … Named first-team All-Pro six consecutive years (1993-98) … Selected to play in seven consecutive Pro Bowls (1993-99) … Anchor on offensive line that led Steelers to five AFC Central Division championships and one AFC championship … Born June 17, 1965 in Lexington, Kentucky.

Owner … Notre Dame … 1977-2000 San Francisco 49ers
Purchased 49ers in 1977 with vision to create top-notch organization, on and off field … Known as a "players’ owner,” led franchise to unprecedented winning during tenure …  In 1979, hired Bill Walsh as team’s head coach, drafted quarterback Joe Montana, and created atmosphere conducive to winning … Fortunes of franchise changed soon thereafter … In 1981, 49ers finished 13-3 to claim NFC Western Division title and won hard fought playoff battles with New York Giants, Dallas Cowboys and capped the year with a thrilling 26-21 victory over Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl XVI … DeBartolo infused team roster with talent that resulted in San Francisco enjoying amazing string of winning seasons … Team averaged 13 wins per season, including playoffs, during a span from 1981 to 1998 (not including strike-shortened 1982 season). During DeBartolo’s ownership team claimed 13 division titles, made 16 playoff appearances, advanced to NFC championship game 10 times, and was first franchise ever to win five Super Bowls (XVI, XIX, XXIII, XXIV, XXIX) …  Franchise posted the best winning percentage in NFL in both the decades of the 1980s and 1990s …  Was named NFL Man of the Year by Football News, 1989 as the nation’s top sports executive … DeBartolo was also highly respected inside NFL circles and served on league’s realignment and expansion committees … Born November 6, 1946 in Youngstown, Ohio.

Defensive End/Linebacker … 6-5, 270 … Pittsburgh … 1985-1993, 1999 Minnesota Vikings, 1994-95 Atlanta Falcons, 1996-98 San Francisco 49ers
15 playing seasons … 232 games … Selected by Vikings in 1st round (4th player overall) in 1985 draft … Drafted as linebacker, moved to starting defensive end position final three games of second season … Tallied team-high 11 sacks in 1987… First of six sack titles with Vikings … Named All-NFL, All-NFC and voted to first Pro Bowl in 1987 ... Finest season came in 1989, led NFL with 21 sacks, one shy of single-season record at time … In 1992, named NFC’s Defensive Player of the Year when he recorded 14.5 sacks and 64 tackles, returned interception for touchdown, forced six fumbles, recovered three fumbles, and had safety … Spent two seasons with Atlanta (1994-95) three with the San Francisco (1996-98) … Returned to Vikings  for final season, 1999 … His 150.5 sacks was NFL’s fourth best at time of retirement … Tied for third in the NFL Record Book with eight seasons 10 or more sacks … Also intercepted eight passes returning two for touchdowns; recorded two safeties; and scored touchdown on a fumble recovery during career … Named to eight Pro Bowls; first-team All-Pro in 1987, 1989, 1992 and first-team All-NFC four times … A member of the NFL’s All-Decade Team of 1990s … Born October 16, 1961 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Linebacker/Defensive End … 6-3, 247 … Auburn… 1985-1992 Los Angeles Rams, 1993-95 Pittsburgh Steelers, 1996, 1998-99 Carolina Panthers, 1997 San Francisco 49ers
15 seasons, 228 games … Selected by Rams in 5th round (113th player overall) in 1985 draft ... Played primarily on special teams as rookie, only season he didn’t register a sack  … Did not have any starts in second season, but played in all 16 games and managed seven sacks … Added 6.5 sacks in 1987 and by fourth season was bona fide pass rusher for Rams, registering career-high 16.5 sacks, including career-best 4.5 sacks in win over 49ers in season finale that clinched playoff spot for Rams … Following year matched his 16.5 sacks total … Had double-digit sack totals ten times, second in record book at the time … Only time missed recording 10 sacks in any of last eight seasons was 1995 when he had team-leading nine sacks for Steelers … Named to Pro Bowl five times (once with the Rams, twice with Steelers and Panthers) … Selected first-team All-Pro, 1989 with Rams, 1994 with Pittsburgh and 1996 with Carolina … Captured league sack title twice, 1994 and 1996 … A member of NFL’s All-Decade Team of 1990s … Played in six conference championship games and one Super Bowl … Led team in sacks 11 times and amassed 160 total sacks, third all-time at time of retirement … Also had three safeties, 26 opponent fumble recoveries, and five interceptions … Born July 31, 1962 in New York, New York.

Defensive End/Linebacker … 6-5, 242 … James Madison … 1986-1991, 1999 San Francisco 49ers, 1992-96 Dallas Cowboys
12 playing season, 169 games … Selected by 49ers in 4th round (96th player overall) in 1986 draft … Only player in NFL history to play on five winning Super Bowl teams (SBs XXIII, XXIV, XXVII, XXVIII, XXX) … Began career at linebacker and led 49ers in sacks in each of first six seasons … Recorded four double-digit sack totals with 49ers including 12 as rookie and career-high 16 in 1990 … Moved to defensive end after trade to Dallas … Added two more double-digit sack seasons, 1994, 1995 … Suffered serious back injury, limited to just five games, 1996 … Retired after undergoing surgery … After a two-year hiatus, signed with 49ers as backup defensive end for two playoff games in 1998 … In 1999 came back for final season, added three sacks to finish career with 100.5 … Twice named NFC Defensive Player of the Year (1990, 1994), voted to five Pro Bowls, named All-Pro twice, once as linebacker, once as defensive end … Played in six NFC championship games over seven seasons … Star Back to news