Hall of Famers visit Hawaii


HONOLULU -- Hall of Fame head coach Marv Levy fondly recalls working as a TV commentator during former Denver Broncos quarterback John Elway's first NFL game.

"If you had told me that day that John Elway would be elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, I wouldn't have believed it," Levy joked.


Bob Brown, John Elway, and Carl Eller pose for the media in Honolulu.

But Elway did bounce back after that first game in Pittsburgh in 1983 and was elected last Saturday to the Pro Footall Hall of Fame after 16 seasons with the Broncos.

A week after being elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, three of the four members of the 2004 class attended a press conference before Sunday's Pro Bowl at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu.

The Class of 2004 includes: Elway, who is one of two players in NFL history to pass for more than 50,000 yards in a career; Bob Brown, who earned All-NFL honors in seven of his 10 seasons with the Eagles, Oakland Raiders, and Los Angeles Rams; and Carl Eller, a key element of the Minnesota Vikings' "Purple People Eaters" defense; Barry Sanders, one of the NFL's most electrifying runners and the first player ever to rush for 1,000 yards in each of his first 10 seasons.

Sanders was unable to attend due to the fact he and his wife Lauren are expecting the birth of their child.

"This is just unbelievable to me to have my name added to the list of great names who have played the game," Elway said. "This is the greatest honor you can get and it's been an unbelievable week since Saturday."

Elway, the first overall pick of the 1983 NFL Draft, was a master of fourth-quarter comebacks with the Broncos and capped his career by earning Most Valuable Player honors in Super Bowl XXXIII.

Brown, the first round pick of the Philadelphia Eagles in 1964, earned All-NFL honors in seven of his 10 seasons with the Eagles, Oakland Raiders, and Los Angeles Rams. The punishing lineman was also chosen to play in six Pro Bowls.

"This is a dream come true for me," Brown said. "This is probably the most exhilarating  thing to ever happen to me because as an offensive lineman we don't have statistics to depend on."

Eller played all but one of his 16 seasons with Minnesota. In all, he played in 225 games and earned first- or second-team honors every year from 1967 to 1973. He also was named to six Pro Bowls.

"The Hall of Fame started for me as a young kid," Eller said. "I made a lot of sacrifices for this game because you just don't wake up and be a Hall of Famer. It takes hard work. This is just such a tremendous honor."

The four-man class was elected by the Hall of Fame's 39-member Selection Committee who met Saturday  morning (Jan. 31) in Houston, Texas. The newest members of the Hall were selected from a list of 15 finalists that had been determined earlier by the committee.

Their induction into the Hall of Fame on Aug. 8 in Canton, Ohio, will bring the number of Hall enshrinees to 225.

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