Each year, dozens of previously elected members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame return to Canton, Ohio to welcome the newest Class of Enshrinees as they join pro football’s most exclusive fraternity. This year will be no exception as the confirmation count is already at 80 returning Hall of Famers who plan to be on hand as the Class of 2011 – Richard Dent, Marshall Faulk, Chris Hanburger, Les Richter, Ed Sabol, Deion Sanders, and Shannon Sharpe
– are enshrined on Saturday, August 6. More names will likely be added over the next several days.
Among the pro football legends scheduled to return to Canton are four from last year’s class of enshrinees, Rickey Jackson, Floyd Little, John Randle and Emmitt Smith. While the current count includes a Hall of Fame representative from 28 of the 32 NFL clubs, the franchise best represented is the Oakland Raiders with nine returning Hall of Famers. The Raiders contingent includes Marcus Allen, Fred Biletnikoff, Willie Brown, Dave Casper, Mike Haynes, Ted Hendricks, Howie Long, John Madden and Art Shell. The Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins have six Hall of Famers appearing and the Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins and Minnesota Vikings will each have five.
Attending this year and celebrating the 10th anniversary of their enshrinement will be Nick Buoniconti, Marv Levy, Lynn Swann, Ron Yary, and Jack Youngblood. Jan Stenerud, elected in 1991 will celebrate the 20th anniversary of his enshrinement and Willie Davis, a member of the Class of 1981, will celebrate the 30th anniversary of his enshrinement.
Counting Class of 2011 Enshrinee Richard Dent, there will be eight Super Bowl MVPs on the Enshrinement stage including Franco Harris, (Super Bowl IX), Lynn Swann (Super Bowl X), Fred Biletnikoff (Super Bowl XI), Marcus Allen (Super Bowl XVIII), Dent (Super Bowl XX), Troy Aikman (Super Bowl XXVII), Emmitt Smith (Super Bowl XXVIII), and John Elway (Super Bowl XXXIII). Between the 2011 Class and the current number of 75 returning Hall of Famers, there are a total of 71 Super Bowl rings that were awarded to the group.
Other notable Hall of Fame members returning to Canton this year include Earl Campbell, Dick Butkus, Eric Dickerson, Deacon Jones, Jim Kelly, Bob Lilly, James Lofton, Warren Moon, and Rod Woodson.
For many Hall of Famers, like Willie Lanier and Jim Taylor, the journey back to Canton is a “not to be missed” annual event. Each year, the veteran Hall of Famers like Lanier and Taylor emphasize to the newest Hall of Fame Class, usually during the “enshrinees only” Ray Nitschke Luncheon, the importance of returning to Canton for the Enshrinement Ceremony as often as possible. Others make sure the new enshrinees understand the significance of their honor. As Deacon Jones likes to remind the new Hall of Famers, they are “joining a team from which they cannot be cut, cannot be traded and cannot quit. It’s forever.”
The list of returning Hall of Famers (updated August 4, 2011)
Earl Campbell (20th Anniversary)
Willie Davis (30th Anniversary)
Marv Levy (10th Anniversary)
Bob St. Clair
Jan Stenerud (20th Anniversary)
Lynn Swann (10th Anniversary)
Ron Yary (10th Anniversary)
Jack Youngblood (10th Anniversary)
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