Legends of the game


8:35 a.m. ET

If you have NFL Network running outside your office like I do, you’d hear a constant reminder of how close we’re getting to the Class of 2009 enshrinement. In just under a month, six new football legends will be formally enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

First some perspective on just how special of an honor this is for Bob Hayes, Randall McDaniel, Bruce Smith, Derrick Thomas, Ralph Wilson, Jr., and Rod Woodson. Since the NFL was founded in Canton, Ohio on September 17, 1920, more than 20,000 players have played in an NFL regular season game. Thousands and thousands of others have tried. Hundreds of men have coached in the league and countless others have contributed in other ways.

A mere 253, including this year’s class, have earned election to the Hall of Fame.

This is the ultimate team. The team where now Bob Hayes is a teammate of Don Hutson and Bruce Smith with Deacon Jones. The offensive line features perennial All-Pros Randall McDaniel and Jim Parker. How about this for leadership, Art Rooney and Ralph Wilson, Jr. This team’s secondary has a couple of guys by the name of Ronnie Lott and Rod Woodson, and a linebacking corps of Derrick Thomas and Lawrence Taylor.

Making the August 8th enshrinement ceremony so very special is the fact that so many of these “teammates” return to Canton to welcome the new class. It’s a tradition really unlike any other in sports. The most recent count lists more than 70 members of the Hall of Fame who will be on stage at Fawcett Stadium for the ceremony in four Saturdays.

For us at the Hall of Fame, we consider these football legends as family members. What a family reunion it’s going to be. There’s little in sports that is more chilling than hearing introduction after introduction of these greats as they walk on stage just before the start of the enshrinement ceremony.

A recent visitor to our new website by the name of John left a comment that he didn’t recognize all of the Hall of Famers shown in the photo from last year’s induction that we have on our home page. He asked why not include identification of who’s in the shot. 

That’s an excellent idea which I’ll get to in just one moment.

But first, how about these numbers. Collectively those shown in the photo below represent 610 NFL seasons, 7,953 games played, 300 Pro Bowls, 20-plus years of coaching and more than 325 coaching wins. 

Bottom Row: Larry Little, Bill Dudley, Charley Trippi, Fred Dean, Emmitt Thomas, Gary Zimmerman, Andre Tippett, Art Monk, Darrell Green, Deacon Jones, Tommy McDonald, Dan Dierdorf, Dante Lavelli.
Second Row: Willie Lanier, Rayfield Wright, Larry Wilson, Elvin Bethea, Bobby Bell, Lem Barney, Ken Houston, Yale Lary, Carl Eller, Joe Perry, Lenny Moore, Dick Butkus
Third Row: Joe Gibbs, Thurman Thomas, Fred Biletnikoff, Roger Wehrli, Billy Shaw, Don Maynard, Dave Wilcox, Bobby Mitchell, Jan Stenerud, Gale Sayers, Mel Renfro, Raymond Berry, Warren Moon
Top Row: John Madden, Bob St. Clair, Leroy Kelly, Tony Dorsett, Ted Hendricks, Charlie Sanders, Kellen Winslow, Bob Griese, Charley Taylor, Terry Bradshaw, Joe DeLamielleure, John Hannah

I’d be remiss not to mention there’s still time for you to join us at Fawcett Stadium on August 8th. Get your tickets to the enshrinement right now.

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