The Pro Football Hall of Fame will induct its Class of 2022 on Saturday, with eight new inductees joining the illustrious group.
The class includes offensive tackle Tony Boselli, wide receiver Cliff Branch, official Art McNally, linebacker Sam Mills, defensive lineman Richard Seymour, coach Dick Vermeil and defensive lineman Bryant Young. The ceremony airs at noon ET on NFL Network and ESPN. Athleticism also follows the event live.
Here’s more on each of the inductees:
Tom Coughlin knew exactly who he would take with the first draft pick in Jacksonville Jaguars history in the spring of 1995, but once the team was on the clock at No. 2, he still waited out most of their 15 minutes. allocated, just to listen to any trade offers trying to convince them not to take Southern Cal Tony Boselli’s offensive tackle.
“We sat there with our pick for about 10 minutes just to see if anybody was coming, whoever might be interested, not that we didn’t have our player. We had our player,” Coughlin said. “I had told him to stay seated, that he was going to be our choice, and he did. He was sitting there looking at the clock, thinking, ‘What are they doing now? ‘ He was our man. So when we picked him up, when we picked Tony and flew him in, the first thing he said as he walked into the draw room was, ‘Wha’ did it take you so long?’
Some 27 years later, the same question applies, as in his sixth year as a Pro Football Hall of Fame runner-up, a patient Boselli will be inducted into Canton as the first player in Jaguars history to be consecrated. Learn more here
Clifford Branch is a symbol of speed.
The banner hung in the stadiums the Raiders called home in the 1970s and 1980s said as much.
“SPEED KILLS #21”
What Branch could also be a symbol of is player development. In the history of gaming, there is no better example of a player who went from raw to refined.
He started out as a stone-handed rookie wide receiver, a proverbial “track guy.” He became a three-time All-Pro whose Raiders owner Al Davis told NFL writer Rick Gosselin that he was “one of our greatest players – maybe our greatest. , certainly our most precious”. Learn more here
For all the incredible things LeRoy Butler has done during what is about to officially become a Pro Football Hall of Fame career following his induction on Saturday – redefining the position of safety, forcing opposing offensive coordinators to design game plans that featured him on every play, inventing the “Lambeau Leap” – perhaps one of his lesser-known but still significant accomplishments is what he did for his quarterback, Brett Favre.
Because for all the swashbuckling moments Favre delivered during his own Hall of Fame career, his ability to play fearlessly and take risks — often against coach Mike Holmgren’s orders. – could be attributed in part to Butler and the Packers defense.
While Favre orchestrated the attack, Butler led the defense from his solid security post while providing the perfect leadership to devout Defense Minister Reggie White’s yang in the locker room.
“We don’t win as many football games as we did — or have the kind of success we did — without LeRoy Butler,” Favre said. Learn more here
McNally, 97, will go down in history as the first field official to enter the Hall of Fame, although his induction has more to do with his body of work than his time on the field. Officiating is an essential part of football, but an official’s merit can be difficult to quantify or qualify for Hall’s consideration. A player has statistics. A coach has a record. An owner has organizational achievements. McNally’s entry is based on the reputation he has earned over decades in the league. When McNally received the call to let him know he was a finalist, he was told that “integrity” was the word that came up in his application.
“He … personifies integrity and credibility,” said Walt Anderson, senior vice president of NFL umpiring. “A big part of what officiating is about maintaining, protecting, preserving the integrity of the game, and I don’t think anyone personifies that more than Art McNally.” Learn more here
Mills started 13 games in 1986 and helped form the famed “Dome Patrol” linebacking corps with eventual Hall of Famer Rickey Jackson, eventual Defensive Player of the Year Pat Swilling and four-time Pro Bowler Johnson, also a former USFL. Mills earned four trips to the Pro Bowl and two second-team All-Pro nods in New Orleans from 1986-1994.
“We played against the Rams in New Orleans. Eric Dickerson, you know how he runs through the hole for a running back? said Bobby Hebert, the former Saints quarterback. “Well, he didn’t even see Sam coming. He walks away from the tackle. Sam came out of nowhere and punched him in the jaw. Eric said it was the hardest blow he had ever had.
At 36, Mills finished third in Defensive Player of the Year voting after posting 110 total tackles, 4.5 sacks and five interceptions. A season later, at age 37, Mills earned first-team All-Pro honors and finished fourth in Defensive Player of the Year voting, finishing with 122 total tackles and 5.5 sacks.
“He’s a hero for two NFC South teams,” Hebert said. “It’s incredible.” Learn more here
“The right team drafted me,” said Seymour, who was selected by the Patriots in the first round of the 2000 NFL Draft. “I had the right coaches, the right group of players. certain things that happen in your life that are beyond your control, but you are grateful and blessed that they happen.
And to Seymour’s credit, he was selfless enough to take on the role of facilitator. He consistently consumed a slew of blockers to free up leading lanes for the Patriots’ talented linebackers, but it came at the expense of his sack totals, which naturally amplifies the personal spotlight.
“He made my job easier,” said Ty Law, Seymour’s Hall of Famer, teammate and close friend. “He would have made my job a lot easier than if they had just let him go get the quarterback, but it just wasn’t his responsibility. He helped the guys next to him and Tedy Bruschi a lot more than me. I wanted him to rush the quarterback to get the ball out faster. Learn more here
As someone who has always looked up to his coaching peers, Vermeil relished the day in 1983 when Sid Gillman, his former quarterbacks assistant with the Philadelphia Eagles, was inducted into the Hall of Fame as one of the first innovators of the forward pass. In 1993, Vermeil saw Bill Walsh, the legendary San Francisco 49ers coach and someone he worked with early in his career at Stanford, get enshrined. Vermeil made sure to salute Bill Parcells when the famed coach, who won two Super Bowls with the New York Giants, was a member of the 2013 Hall of Fame class.
Saturday will be Vermeil’s 12th trip to the hall – and the first in which he will be applauded by his peers for his memorable contributions to the sport, his first day as one of the hall’s newest inductees.
“I never really imagined myself sitting next to (Parcells) on that stage,” Vermeil said last month. “It’s a really upsetting experience for me. The closer I get to the day, the more I realize what’s going on. It’s very exciting, very humbling. I’m an emotional guy. When I seriously start thinking about it, I’m starting to cry. It’s me.” Learn more here
On Dec. 7, 2018, former Chicago Bears center Olin Kreutz posted side-by-side photos of Young and modern-day Los Angeles Rams wrecking ball Aaron Donald, with the caption, “Bryant Young is the guy that Donald reminds me of. .”
It barely went viral. Six retweets, 114 likes over three years later. But look at these answers. Former Seahawks lineman Robbie Tobeck, who faced Bryant 16 times, added: “Great comparison. BY still does not receive its due! Great player for a long time. Should be a HOFer in my opinion.
“100%,” added former Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck.
“Guy definitely gave me fits,” Hall of Fame goaltender Steve Hutchinson added.
When Kirk Reynolds, a former media relations director for the 49ers, was looking for a way to boost Young’s profile with voters years later, someone directed him to this tweet. Reynolds immediately recognized the power of such a choir. While it’s customary for ex-teammates to bang the drum for a Hall of Fame nominee’s case, getting such emphatic and spontaneous support from enemy lines was practically the end of the debate.
“Here we go,” Reynolds remembers thinking. “These guys can talk, so BY doesn’t have to.” Learn more here
(Photo: Kirby Lee/USA Today)