NFL teammates, on rare occasion, are reunited on the Enshrinement stage
"I can't begin to use the words to describe the emotions that all of us have felt, me in particular in coming to Canton, Ohio and being inducted into the Hall of Fame," said Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Terry Bradshaw during his enshrinement speech from the Hall's front steps in August 1989.
The highest individual achievement a player can receive is when he is enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. For some, the special day is made even better in that he can share the limelight with a teammate. Such was the case with Bradshaw as well as three players in the Class of 2011.
Only on rare occasions since the Hall's first induction in 1963 has a player been enshrined with a teammate.
The New Kids In Class
Richard Dent played with both Deion Sanders and Marshall Faulk. Dent, a defensive end, played the bulk of his 15-season career in a Chicago Bears uniform. However, he also spent time with the San Francisco 49ers, Indianapolis Colts, and Philadelphia Eagles. It was with the 49ers in 1994 when he called Sanders a teammate. Unfortunately for Dent, he suffered an injury early in the season that shelved him for the remainder of the year. Meanwhile Sanders had a stellar season and was named the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year as the 49ers finished 13-3-0 and capped the season with a Super Bowl XXIX victory.
Two seasons later Dent was in Indianapolis and found himself a teammate of Faulk. Both players chipped in to help the Colts secure a playoff spot. Dent, at age 36, played in all 16 games for Indy and added 6.5 sacks to his already impressive career total. Faulk, in just his third NFL season, battled a nagging toe injury yet still led the team in rushing for his third straight season and scored 7 touchdowns. His 56 receptions that year placed him second behind wide receiver Marvin Harrison.
On August 6, the three will become teammates for life when they are formally enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
The Monk/Green Show
The Class of 2008 featured two former Washington Redskins who were teammates for 11 years. Darrell Green and Art Monk played together from 1983 to 1993. Monk, the Redskins' first round pick in 1980, played 16 seasons in the NFL, all but two with Washington. He set numerous receiving records and at one point was the NFL's all-time leader in receptions. Green was added to the Redskins roster as a first round draft choice in 1983. Green, a cornerback with blazing speed, played 20 seasons in Washington during which time he recorded at least one interception in 19 straight seasons, an NFL record that still stands.
Monk and Green were integral parts of three Redskins Super Bowl championship teams (XVIII, XXII, and XXVI). Among their strongest collective performance was their contributions in Washington's win over the Buffalo Bills in Super Bowl XXVI. Monk recorded seven receptions for 113 yards while Green had one interception as Washington downed Buffalo 37-24.
The 1976 Heisman Trophy winner had much to prove once he was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in the 1977 draft. Needless to say, Tony Dorsett lived up to his expectations during a career that earned him a bronze bust in Canton. He wasted no time making his mark in the NFL as he rushed for 1,007 yards and 12 touchdowns in his first pro season and was named the NFL's Offensive Rookie of the Year. His memorable year was made more special by the Cowboys victory in Super Bowl XII. He rushed for 66 yards and scored one touchdown as the Cowboys defeated the Denver Broncos 27-10.
On the other side of the ball that day was defensive tackle Randy White who was in his third season in Dallas. The future Hall of Famer led the "Doomsday Defense" that day and for his efforts was named the game's co-MVP along with teammate Harvey Martin.
Dorsett and White remained teammates through the 1987 season. Each played one final year in 1988, White in Dallas while Dorsett finished his career with Denver. Six years later, the two Cowboys came full circle when they were elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in their first year of eligibility in 1994.
PHOTO GALLERY: Richard Dent and Deion Sanders played on the San Francisco 49ers together in 1994.
The Pittsburgh Steelers were the "Team of the Decade" in the 1970s as they captured four Super Bowls in a six-year span. No doubt, the roster was filled with numerous future Hall of Famers which means it came as no surprise that teammates found themselves reunited on the Hall of Fame stage years after they left the game.
In back-to-back years in 1989 and 1990 Steelers fans made the two-hour trek from Pittsburgh to invade Canton as stars of the Super Bowl teams were accorded pro football's highest honor. In 1989, Bradshaw and Mel Blount were enshrined while in 1990 running back Franco Harris and linebacker Jack Lambert entered the Hall together.
Blount was a shutdown cornerback who used his intelligence to beat his opponents. He had a career total 57 interceptions and was the NFL Defensive MVP in 1975. He also had a key interception in Super Bowl XIII that helped lead Pittsburgh to victory over the Cowboys. Another primary reasons why the Steelers were so successful was because of the play of Bradshaw. The 6-3, 215-pound quarterback out of Louisiana Tech was one of the best quarterbacks to ever put on a Steelers jersey. He was taken first overall in the 1970 draft by Pittsburgh and was named MVP in Super Bowls XIII and XIV.
Harris was drafted by the Steelers, 13th overall, in the 1972 draft. He rushed for 1,077 yards and 10 touchdowns in his rookie season. Harris was Super Bowl IX MVP after he rushed for 158 yards and one touchdown in Pittsburgh's win over the Minnesota Vikings. He played 12 seasons in the NFL and 11 of them were with the Steelers. Lambert was known for his vicious hits, which earned him NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year in 1974 and NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 1976. Appropriately, Lambert and Harris received their gold Hall of Fame jackets together in August 1990.
Jurgensen to Mitchell
Bobby Mitchell was an exceptional athlete who was blessed with speed and balance. He played running back for the Cleveland Browns from 1958-1962 until his trade to the Redskins. Once in Washington, he was moved to wide receiver. While there, he teamed up with quarterback Sonny Jurgensen, one of the strongest-armed passers in league history. Jurgensen racked up career totals of 32,224 yards and 255 touchdowns. Mitchell and Jurgensen lit up the NFL for the five seasons they were together from 1964-68. They reunited in 1983 on the front steps of Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton.
The 1977 Hall of Fame class was filled with talented football players. At the top of the list were two Green Bay Packers, tackle Forrest Gregg and quarterback Bart Starr, who were long-time teammates. Both played under Hall of Fame coach Vince Lombardi and were key ingredients of the Packers' numerous championship teams in the 1960s that included wins in Super Bowls I and II.
Lombardi once said that Gregg was the best player he had ever coached. Gregg played in 188 straight games and was All-NFL eight straight years. Some have described him as the best player to ever play that position in the history of the game. Starr, a 17th-round draft pick, was clearly the Packers' "field general" during their championship runs of the Lombardi era. With Gregg helping protect him, Starr led the Packers to great success and was named the Most Valuable Player of the first two Super Bowls.
"What a privilege it is today to be coming in with a man like Forrest Gregg," declared Starr who like his teammate reveled in the opportunity of sharing the day together.
First Hall of Fame Class
The Pro Football Hall of Fame's inaugural Class of 1963 included 17 charter enshrinees. Intentionally symbolic was that the class included 11 players, representative of the number of players who step onto a football field together.
Among the legends enshrined that day were two players – Harold "Red" Grange and Bronko Nagurski, who anchored Chicago Bears squads that ranked near the top of the NFL during their era.
Grange and Nagurski played together with the Bears from 1930-34. Grange played halfback and was nicknamed the "Galloping Ghost" for his running exploits. Nagurski was a different type of player than Grange. Instead of running around his opponent, the powerful Nagurski simply ran through them. The duo teamed up in 1932 on a key play in the NFL's first playoff game. Nagurski threw a jump pass to Grange to give the Bears a victory over the Portsmouth Spartans and win the league title.
They teamed back up in 1963 to receive the highest honor in professional football by being enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Also receiving that honor was their Hall of Famer owner and coach George Halas.
Other Notable Hall of Fame "teammates"
Giants' Andy Robustelli and Y.A. Tittle in 1971
Colts' Raymond Berry and Jim Parker in 1973
Dolphins' Larry Csonka and Jim Langer in 1987
49ers' Ronnie Lott and Joe Montana in 2000
Rams' Jackie Slater and Jack Youngblood in 2001