Ever since the Pro Football Hall of Fame was opened in Canton, Ohio on Sept. 7, 1963, the game’s greatest players of all time have been inducted into that famous building. The enshrinement ceremony has been a tradition for over fifty years. This tradition continued when Derrick Brooks, Claude Humphrey, Aeneas Williams, Walter Jones, Ray Guy, Andre Reed, and Michael Strahan had their shining moment in the sun that no playing career can match.
After years of waiting to be honored in Canton, this year’s seven inductees had their names called, their opportunity to receive their gold jackets, their walk to the podium, and the distinction of reciting their final speeches. When everything was all said and done, the total of inductees was brought up to 287 players. Together, the Class of 2014 did what any all-time greats would do by walking off into the sunset.
Derrick Brooks was a linebacker for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 1995 until 2008. Tampa Bay drafted Brooks as the 28th overall pick in the first round out of Florida State. During Brooks’ 14-year career, he recorded 1,297 tackles, became an 11-time pro bowler, and became a five-time All-Pro player. As a vocal leader on one of the greatest defensive units of all time, Brooks helped Tampa Bay win a Super Bowl in 2002.
Claude Humphrey was a defensive end for the Atlanta Falcons from 1968 until 1978 and the Philadelphia Eagles from 1979 until 1981. The Falcons drafted Humphrey as the third overall pick in the first round out of Tennessee State. During Humphrey’s 13-year NFL career, he started 120 games, became a six-time pro bowler, and was elected to the All-Pro team twice. He also won an NFC Championship with the Eagles in 1980 and played for the team in Super Bowl XV.
Aeneas Williams was a cornerback and free safety for the Phoenix/Arizona Cardinals from 1991 until 2000 and the St. Louis Rams from 2001 until 2004. The Cardinals drafted Williams as the 59th overall pick in the third round out of Southern. During Williams’ 14-year career, he started 207 games, recorded 55 interceptions, scored 12 defensive touchdowns, became an eight-time pro bowler, and became a five-time All-Pro. He also won an NFC Championship with the Rams in 2001 and played in Super Bowl XXXVI.
Walter Jones was a left tackle for the Seattle Seahawks from 1997 until 2008. The Seahawks drafted Jones as the sixth overall pick of the first round out of Florida State. During Jones’ 12-year career, he started every one of his 180 games. He became a nine-time pro bowler and a four-time All-Pro. He helped pave the way for Shaun Alexander’s record-setting 28 touchdown season in 2005. That same year, he won an NFC Championship with the Seahawks and played in Super Bowl XL.
Ray Guy was a punter for the Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders from 1973 until 1986. The Raiders drafted Guy as the 23rd overall pick of the first round out of Southern Mississippi. To this day, he remains the first and only punter ever to be selected in the first round of a draft. During Guy’s 14-year career, he became a seven-time pro bowler and a three-time All-Pro. He also won three Super Bowls with the Raiders in 1976, 1980, and 1983.
Andre Reed was a wide receiver for the Buffalo Bills from 1985 until 1999 and the Washington Redskins in 2000. The Bills drafted Reed as the 86th overall pick of the fourth round out of Kutztown. During Reed’s 16-year career, he hauled in 951 receptions for 13,198-yards and scored 88 touchdowns. Reed became a seven-time pro bowler and a four-time AFC Champion with the Bills in 1990, 1991, 1992, and 1993, playing in four straight Super Bowls during those years.
Michael Strahan was a defensive end for the New York Giants from 1993 until 2007. The Giants drafted Strahan as the 40th overall pick of the second round out of Texas Southern. During Strahan’s 15-year career, he started 205 games and recorded 141.5 sacks, including a single season record 22.5 in 2001. Strahan became a seven-time pro bowler, a four-time All-Pro, and a Super Bowl champion in his final season. That year, the Giants pulled off a remarkable upset by defeating the undefeated New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII.
There you have it, the Professional Football Hall of Fame Class of 2014. Along with the rest of the past inductees, the present inductees hold something that nobody can change nor take away from them. They can hold it close to their hearts for the rest of their lives. Now, the big question is who will be selected as the Class of 2015?
Websites for more information: http://www.profootballhof.com/default.aspx and http://www.pro-football-reference.com/players/J/JoneWa00.htm