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Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2015

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01/31/2015

The Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Selection Committee met today to hold its annual selection meeting. The nine-hour meeting resulted in the election of eight individuals to the Hall of Fame’s Class of 2015. Raising the total number of members in the Hall of Fame to 295 are running back Jerome Bettis, wide receiver/returner Tim Brown, defensive end/linebacker Charles Haley, contributor Bill Polian, linebacker Junior Seau, guard Will Shields, center Mick Tingelhoff, and contributor Ron Wolf.

Today’s annual selection meeting was held inside the Super Bowl XLIX Media Center in downtown Phoenix and capped a year-round selection process. The newly elected Hall of Famers were chosen from a list of 18 finalists who had been determined earlier by the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Selection Committee.
   
Bettis retired after 13 seasons ranked fifth all-time in rushing with 13,662 yards. A six-time Pro Bowl selection, Bettis rushed for 100 yards or more 61 times in his career with the Los Angeles/St. Louis Rams and Pittsburgh Steelers.

Brown starred for 16 seasons with the Los Angeles/Oakland Raiders and one final season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He registered 1,094 career receptions for 14,934 yards and 100 TDs. He also added 4,555 yards and 4 TDs on punt and kickoff returns. 

Haley, the only player ever to win five Super Bowls, racked up 100.5 sacks during his 12-year career with the Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers. Six times he posted double-digit sack totals in a season.

Polian earned the reputation as a general manager who built dominant teams. Under his leadership, he led the Buffalo Bills and Indianapolis Colts to a combined five Super Bowls. He was NFL’s Executive of the Year by The Sporting News six times.

Seau starred for 20 NFL seasons during which time he established himself as one the finest linebackers in league history. Named first-team All-Pro eight times, he was selected to 12 Pro Bowls and named NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 1992.

Shields never missed a game during his 14-season, 224-game career with the Kansas City Chiefs. He was named to the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 2000s, selected first-team All-Pro three times, and played in 12 straight Pro Bowls.

Tingelhoff was signed as a free agent by the Minnesota Vikings. He earned a starting role at center as a rookie and never missed a game for his entire 17-season career. A seven-time All-League selection, he was named to six straight Pro Bowls.

Wolf spent 23 years with the Raiders during which time the team posted winning records in all but six of those seasons. He later transformed the Green Bay Packers into Super Bowl champions.

The first order of business for the Selection Committee at today’s meeting was to discuss and debate the merits of Tingelhoff, the Senior Finalist. He received at least an 80 percent positive vote to earn election. Next, the careers of the two Contributor Finalists, Polian and Wolf, were reviewed and voted on individually. Both finalists received a minimum 80 percent positive vote to be elected.

The Selection Committee then presented and reviewed the 15 Modern-Era Finalists that included two cut downs in the process. The first cut of finalists was from 15 to 10. The five eliminated from consideration at that point were Andersen, Coryell, Davis, Johnson and Lynch. After one last round of discussion, the final 10 finalists were reduced to five. Removed at that point were Dungy, Greene, Harrison, Pace and Warner.

The five remaining finalists – Bettis, Brown, Haley, Seau, and Shields – were then voted on individually and received the necessary 80 percent positive vote from the Selection Committee to be elected.

Representatives of the accounting firm Deloitte & Touche tabulated all votes during the meeting.

The newest class of enshrinees will be introduced to the public on the “4th Annual NFL Honors,” a two-hour primetime awards show airing nationally tonight at 9 PM ET/PT on NBC.


PRO FOOTBALL HALL OF FAME CLASS OF 2015


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 and his 13,662 ranked 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. HOF BIO>>>


Wide Receiver/Kick Returner/Punt 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. HOF BIO>>>


Defensive End/Linebacker … 6-5, 242 … James Madison … 1986-1991, 1999 San Francisco 49ers, 1992-96 Dallas Cowboys
12 seasons, 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 (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 … Starting at left outside linebacker in 49ers 1988, 1989, 1990 championship games; at right defensive end in Cowboys’ 1992, 1993, 1994 conference championships … Member of 10 division championship teams during his 12 seasons … Born January 6, 1964 in Gladys, Virginia. HOF BIO>>>


Contributor … New York University ... 1978-1982 Kansas City Chiefs, 1984-1992 Buffalo Bills, 1993-94 National Football League, 1995-97 Carolina Panthers, 1998-2011 Indianapolis Colts
Spent 32 seasons in NFL during which time he earned reputation of building franchises into dominant playoff teams ... Most noted for turning fortunes of three different teams that resulted in combined five Super Bowls, Buffalo Bills (3) Indianapolis Colts (2) ... Began as a scout for Kansas City Chiefs … Took over as general manager of Bills, 1984 … Built team into powerhouse, leading to four straight AFC Eastern Division titles (1988 to 1991) including back-to-back 13-3 records in 1990, ‘91. Bills earned three straight Super Bowl berths after winning AFC championships, 1990-92 ... Worked in NFL office, 1993-94 as Vice President of Football Development before becoming general manager of expansion Carolina Panthers ... Led Carolina to NFC championship in just second season ... The ’96 Panthers knocked off Cowboys in the NFC Divisional Playoff Game before falling to Packers in NFC championship ... In 1998, moved on to Indianapolis Colts as President/General Manager ... During tenure Colts experienced great success including eight division crowns and two Super Bowl appearances highlighted by victory in Super Bowl XLI ... With Polian at helm, Colts advanced to postseason 11 times during 12-season span and posted 10 or more wins in each of those playoff years … Led teams to eight championship games, Bills (4), Panthers (1) and Colts (3) ... First administrator to be named NFL’s Executive of the Year by The Sporting News six times ... Born December 8, 1942 in Bronx, New York. HOF BIO>>>


Linebacker … 6-3, 250 … Southern California … 1990-2002 San Diego Chargers, 2003-05 Miami Dolphins, 2006-09 New England Patriots
20 seasons, 268 games … Selected by San Diego in 1st round (5th player overall) of 1990 NFL Draft … Started 15 of 16 games he played as a rookie, finished as team’s second-leading tackler … First-team All-Pro selection eight times … Selected to play in 12 Pro Bowls … Recorded 56.5 sacks during career … Intercepted 18 passes for 238 yards … Exemplified perseverance, leadership and a level of excellence that earned him national recognition as a premier linebacker … Recorded 10 or more tackles in a game 64 times … In 1994 helped lead Chargers to first and only Super Bowl appearance … Recorded 10 or more tackles in a game 10 times that year (eight in regular season and twice in playoffs), and recorded 155 tackles, 5.5 sacks, 3 fumble recoveries, forced a fumble and had three passes defensed … Was Chargers leading tackler eight times  and led team in sacks twice (1996 and 1997) … Played in Super Bowl XLII with New England Patriots … Was Chargers MVP six times, NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 1992 … Named to NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 1990s … Born January 19, 1969 in San Diego, California … Died May 2, 2012, at the age of 43. HOF BIO>>>


Guard … 6-3, 320 … Nebraska … 1993-2006 Kansas City Chiefs
14 seasons, 224 games … Selected by Chiefs in 3rd round (74th player overall) of 1993 draft … Placed into lineup in first NFL game after starting left guard suffered injury … Next week was inserted as starting right guard … Started every game from that point through retirement … Never missed a game during 14-season career, 224 games played, 223 starts are franchise records … As rookie helped Chiefs to an 11-5-0 mark and AFC Western Division crown, first division title for team since 1971 … Chiefs won four division titles and made six playoff appearances during Shields’ career … Earned 12 straight Pro Bowl berths … Named first-team All-Pro in 1999, 2002, and 2003, picked as second-team All-Pro four times … Was All-AFC seven times including each of final six seasons … Chiefs led NFL in total yards gained in 2004 and 2005 and topped AFC in that category in 2003 … Led NFL in points scored in 2002 and 2003 highlighted by running back Priest Holmes’ then-record 27 rushing touchdowns in ’03 … In 1994, Chiefs offensive line established a franchise record allowing a mere 19 sacks … A member of the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 2000s … Joined Hall of Fame linebacker Derrick Thomas in 1999 as only active players named to Chiefs’ 40th Anniversary Team … Born September 15, 1971 in Fort Riley, Kansas. HOF BIO>>>


Center … 6-2, 237 … Nebraska … 1962-1978 Minnesota Vikings
17 seasons, 240 games … Originally signed by Minnesota Vikings as a free agent out of the University of Nebraska, earned a starting nod at center as rookie and never relinquished role for remainder of stellar 17-season career … Known for his durability, toughness, and perseverance he never missed a game or practice and started all 240 regular season games of career that ended after 1978 season ... Also played in 19 playoff games during his career …Anchored an offensive line that helped  Vikings claim 10 divisional titles in an 11-season span from 1968 to 1978 ... Minnesota also won in four of five NFL/NFC championships in which they played and advanced to Super Bowl four times ... Excelled in era and a division in which middle linebackers like Hall of Famers Joe Schmidt, Ray Nitschke and Dick Butkus dominated -- and center often had to get out and block them in space ... Tingelhoff also played at an All-Pro level when defensive tackles like Merlin Olsen and Bob Lilly were wreaking havoc … Received national accolades by third season (1964) with first of seven consecutive seasons in which he was named first-team All-Pro … Was elected to Pro Bowl six straight times (1965-1970) ... Was All-NFL or All-Pro-choice seven times (1964–1970) … Born May 22, 1940 in Lexington, Nebraska. HOF BIO>>>


Contributor … Oklahoma … 1963-1974, 1979-1989 Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders, 1966 American Football League, 1976-78 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 1990-91 New York Jets, 1991-2001 Green Bay Packers
Began career as a scout for Raiders in 1963 … Recognized as one of finest personnel men in pro football … Made lasting mark as longtime player personnel director for Raiders and later as the Executive Vice President/General Manager of the Green Bay Packers ... Wolf spent 23 seasons helping build a Raiders franchise that posted winning seasons in all but six years during that span … Raiders claimed nine division titles, played in eight AFL/AFC championship games and three Super Bowls ... In 1966 when Raiders owner Al Davis was named Commissioner of American Football League, Wolf joined AFL as Coordinator of Talent … Returned with Davis to Raiders prior to start of 1966 season, remaining through 1974 coordinating club’s personnel operations … At age 37 named general manager of expansion Tampa Bay Buccaneers and built foundation that earned team trip to NFC championship by fourth season … Rejoined Raiders in 1979 heading up personnel operations until 1990 when he briefly joined the New York Jets … During 11 seasons as Executive VP/General Manager, turned Packers into dominant NFL Franchise, claiming three straight NFC Central Division titles and back-to-back Super Bowl appearances ... 1996 Packers posted first 16-win season in franchise history that included thrilling 35-21 win over New England in Super Bowl XXXI … Born December 30, 1938 in New Freedom, Pennsylvania. HOF BIO>>>

Class of 2015 Selection Process Timeline:


Jan. 31, 2015 - The Class of 2015 is announced from Phoenix, AZ, the site of Super Bowl XLIX. Story>>>

Jan. 8, 2015 - The modern-era finalists are revealed. Story>>>

Nov. 18, 2014 - The list of semifinalists is released. Story>>

Oct. 22, 2014 - Bill Polian and Ron Wolf are announced as contributor finalists. Story>>>

Sept. 16, 2014 - A list of 113 modern-era nominees for the Class of 2015 is announced. Story>>>

Aug. 20, 2014 - Center Mick Tingelhoff is named by the Pro Football Hall of Fame's Seniors Committee as a finalist for the Class of 2015. Story>>>

Hall of Fame Enshrinement Weekend


Bettis, Brown, Haley, Polian, Seau, Shields, Tingelhoff, and Wolf will be formally enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday, Aug. 8, 2015. The Enshrinement Ceremony takes place at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton and will be televised nationally by NFL Network and ESPN.

The annual NFL/Hall of Fame Game that kicks off the NFL’s preseason will be played on Sunday, Aug. 9. Teams have not yet been announced. NBC’s Sunday Night Football airs the game.

The Enshrinement Ceremony is the marquee event of the annual Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Weekend celebration in Canton.

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