The seven-man group of men that was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1971 -- Jim Brown, Bill Hewitt, Frank "Bruiser" Kinard" Vince Lombardi, Andy Robustelli, Y.A. Tittle, and Norm Van Brocklin -- is being honored during this year's Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Festival as the 40th anniversary class. The group, enshrined on July 31, 1971, was one of the most high-profile classes to enter the Hall of Fame.
The Class of '71 included the game's all-time leading rusher; two quarterbacks that had combined for more than 55,000 passing yards, a defensive end who had played in eight NFL championship games and an iconic coach who had won five championships in 10 seasons.
As such, the number of spectators who gathered to witness the induction ceremony at the front steps of the Hall of Fame exceeded 8,000.This resulted in a single-day attendance record at the museum with 2,608 visitors passing through the Hall of Fame's turnstiles. The weekend festivities even drew the attention of President Richard Nixon who addressed the newest Class at the Hall of Fame Civic Dinner the night before the Enshrinement.
Brown was one of the most dominant running backs in NFL history. He led the league in rushing in eight of his nine seasons, won two MVP awards, and retired as the game's all-time leading rusher. Hewitt, one of the last players to play without a helmet, was an end for the Chicago Bears and Philadelphia Eagles. A quick and innovative player, he was a vital ingredient to the Bears championship in 1933.
"If my father were here today, he would indeed be very pleased, for although there has been much written and said about him, few people realize how strongly my father felt about the National Football League." - Vince Lombardi, Jr. speaking of behalf of his father Vince Lombardi at the 1971 Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony.
Kinard, a tough durable tackle with remarkable quickness, was a 60-minute performer. An outstanding blocker and tackler, he was the first to earn both All-NFL and All-AAFC honors.
Lombardi, who was enshrined posthumously, won five NFL titles and two Super Bowl championships with the Green Bay Packers during the 1960s. He was such a respected coach and person that the Super Bowl Trophy now bears his name.
All Robustelli did during his career was win. In fact, he was on a winning team 13 of his 14 years. A dominating defensive end, he was an All-NFL selection seven times.
Tittle was famous for his "never-say-die" attitude while with the San Francisco 49ers and New York Giants. A two-time NFL MVP, this great quarterback passed for 33,070 yards and 242 TDs.
Van Brocklin holds one of the oldest records in NFL history – most yards passing in one game (554). A perennial passing leader, he helped lead the Los Angeles Rams and Philadelphia Eagles to NFL titles.
| Van Brocklin
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