Nominations for the Class of 2017 were announced live on NFL Network and on ProFootballHOF.com. Players who have been retired for five years are eligible to be this year’s group of NFL Legends includes Brian Dawkins, Chad Johnson, Derrick Mason, Donovan McNabb, Joey Porter, Bob Sanders, Jason Taylor, LaDainian Tomlinson and Hines Ward.
Below are the profiles of first year eligible players, who are up for consideration to be enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2017.
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Brian Dawkins, a second round draft pick of the Philadelphia Eagles in the 1996 NFL Draft, Dawkins a strong safety, established himself as one of the premier defensive backs in NFL history.
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The hard hitting ball-hawk, nicknamed Weapon X finished his lustrous career with 778 tackles, 26 sacks, 28 forced fumbles and 37 interceptions. After spending 13 seasons in Philadelphia, Dawkins capped off his career with the Denver Broncos.
A nine-time Pro Bowler, member of the Philadelphia Eagles 75th Anniversary Team and the NFL 2000s All-Decade Team are just a few honorable mentions but these days Dawkins can be seen scouting for the Philadelphia Eagles through the Nunn-Wooten Scouting Fellowship, the team announced early this summer.
Chad Johnson, a second round draft pick of the Cincinnati Bengals in the 2001 NFL Draft, Johnson was known for his quick, crisp and elusive route running throughout the league.
Formerly known as, “Chad Ochocinco”, he came into his own during the 2003 season finishing with 1,355 receiving yards which would set a Bengals franchise record. But he would later surpass that record and go onto leading the AFC in receiving yards for four consecutive seasons and earning Pro Bowls honors five straight times from 2003 to 2007.
After spending ten seasons in Cincinnati, Johnson would get the opportunity to play in Super Bowl XLVI for the New England Patriots and then finish his career with the Miami Dolphins and a quick stint in Canadian for the Montreal Alouettes.
These days, Johnson is giving of his time with coaching the next generation of wide-outs, severing as a guest coach for his former offensive coordinator, Cleveland Browns Head Coach Hue Jackson during the 2016 Training Camp.
Derrick Mason, a fourth round draft pick of the Tennessee Oilers in the 1997 NFL Draft, Mason was known throughout the league as a shifty wide-out and a threat returner on special teams.
Playing eight season with the Oilers, the team later changed their name to the Titians, where Mason would play in Super Bowl XXXIV and return five kickoffs for 122 yards. Mason finished his career with the Titians as the fourth-leading receiver in team history (435 receptions).
In 2005, Mason was signed to the Baltimore Ravens, he owns the top three reception seasons in Ravens franchise history. He also posted four of his eight career 1,000-yard campaigns while playing in Baltimore as well.
After playing with the Ravens for five seasons, Mason had two layovers with the New York Jets and Houston Texans but the only player in NFL history to produce at least 5,000 total return yards and 11,000 receiving yards decided to retire as a Baltimore Raven, in 2012.
Donovan McNabb, a first round draft pick of the Philadelphia Eagles in the 1999 NFL Draft and he was the second player to be selected overall.
During McNabb’s time with the Eagles, he led his team to four consecutive NFC East division championships, five NFC Championship Games and Super Bowl XXXIX.
Making history in Philly for eleven straight seasons, McNabb will go down as the Eagles all-time leader in pass attempts (4,746), pass completions (2,801), passing yards (32,873), and passing touchdowns (216). Also fast on his feet, McNabb’s ability to run, ranks him sixth among NFL quarterbacks with 3459 career rushing yards.
Joey Porter, a third round draft pick of the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 1999 NFL Draft, Porter became known for his hard hitting and an intimidating presences at the linebacker position.
The four-time Pro Bowl honoree, 2003, ‘05, ‘06 and ‘09, Porter earned his first championship playing in Super Bowl XL, beating the Seattle Seahawks 21-10. After thirteen season in the league, Porter finished with 98 sacks, over the course of 188 games.
Porter also spent time playing with the Miami Dolphins and Arizona Cardinals, but retired as a Steeler in 2012.
These days, he’s a part of the Steelers’ coaching staff, serving as the outside linebackers’ coach under defensive coordinator Keith Butler.
Bob Sanders, a second round draft pick of the Indianapolis Colts, the two-time Pro Bowl honoree, was veered as one of the most feared hitters in the NFL.
The safety received the nickname, “The Hitman” and “The Eraser” by his former head coach Gold Jacket Tony Dungy, Class of 2016. Sanders’ play in the defensive back field would play an integral part in the Colts run to their Super Bowl XLI victory against the Chicago Bears.
Also named AP NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2007, Sanders would finish his final season with six interceptions and three and half sacks.
Jason Taylor, a third round draft pick of the Miami Dolphins in the 1997 NFL Draft, Taylor was a fierce competitor at the defensive end position.
His 14-year career is decorated with countless awards and records, nothing stands out more than 139.5 sacks, ranks Taylor among the great sack leaders in the NFL. Also adding to his accolades are eight interceptions for 110 yards, that led to three touchdowns and fumble recovery for six touchdowns.
The six-time Pro Bowl selection and NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2006, Taylor would have spent time with the Washington Redskins and the New York Jets as well throughout his tenure in the NFL.
LaDainian Tomlinson, a first round draft pick of the San Diego Chargers in the 2001 NFL Draft, was the fifth player taken overall.
Tomlinson, an eleven-year veteran running back played the bulk of his career in a Chargers uniform but did see time playing with the New York Jets. He ranks sixth on the NFL’s all-time rushing list, 258 yards behind fifth place Gold Jacket Jerome Bettis and 697 yards behind fourth-place Gold Jacket Curtis Martin.
A five-time Pro Bowl selection, Tomlinson led the Chargers to five straight AFC West championships, NFL Offensive Player of the Year in 2006 and the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year are just a few honorable mentions for the future Hall of Famer.
Tomlinson finished his career with 13,684 rushing yards, 145 touchdowns and 4,772 receiving yards with 17 touchdowns.
Hines Ward, a third round draft pick of the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 1998 NFL Draft, the savvy wide-out played all of his 14-year career in a Steelers uniform.
Known for his blocking and ability to find opportunities to get open and make plays downfield, Ward led the Steelers to two Championships, Super Bowls XL and XLIII. He also received MVP honors in Super Bowl XL.
Being ranked among the best receivers in the league, Ward set numerous team records for the Steelers and finished his all-pro career with 1,000 catches for 12,083 yards and 85 touchdowns.