MINNEAPOLIS — The Pro Football Hall of Fame’s 2018 class will include a couple of exciting receivers, and a pair of hard-hitting linebackers.
Receivers Terrell Owens and Randy Moss, linebackers Ray Lewis and Brian Urlacher, and safety Brian Dawkins were the modern-era players voted into the Hall on Saturday. They’re joined in the Hall by senior finalists Jerry Kramer and Robert Brazile, and contributor finalist Bobby Beathard.
The voters spent more than eight hours Saturday debating the 15 modern-era finalists. Finalists must get 80 percent of the vote to make it in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Lewis was as close to a lock of a first-ballot Hall of Famer as there can be. He was a 13-time Pro Bowler, two-time Defensive Player of the Year and a Super Bowl MVP. Lewis finished his career with a Super Bowl win at the end of the 2012 season, his second title with the Ravens, and from there it was clear he’d make it into Canton on the first try. He made it easily despite pleading guilty to an obstruction of justice charge after two men were killed after Super Bowl XXXIV in Atlanta.
It’s fitting that Moss and Owens made it to the Hall of Fame in the same year. Their careers paralleled each other in many ways.
Moss was one of the most electrifying players of the past few decades. He had an iconic rookie season, catching 17 touchdowns for a Minnesota Vikings team that went 15-1. His greatest season came in 2007, when he caught an NFL-record 23 touchdowns as the Patriots went 16-0. Moss is the only player in NFL history to post at least three seasons with at least 17 touchdowns.
Owens’ snub each of the past two years, after being a finalist both times, was controversial. He was a five-time All-Pro who is eighth all-time with 1,078 receptions, second in NFL history with 15,934 career receiving yards and third all-time with 153 receiving touchdowns. He announced on Saturday afternoon that his wait was over and he had made the Hall of Fame. He wasn’t at the ceremony, however, because said this week he planned to fly back to Los Angeles to play in a basketball game.
“Long overdue, T.O,” said Brett Favre, who helped announced the new class on the “NFL Honors” show. “The numbers don’t lie.”
Urlacher was a great linebacker for the Bears, who have a long history of great linebackers, from 2000-12. He made it the first time he was on the ballot. He was an eight-time Pro Bowler, four-time All-Pro and 2005 defensive player of the year.
It’s also fitting that Dawkins made it on such a big weekend for the Philadelphia Eagles, who play in Super Bowl LII on Sunday. Dawkins is one of the most popular players in Eagles history, as his fiery style fit well with the intense Philadelphia fans. Dawkins played 16 seasons, the final three with the Denver Broncos, and made nine Pro Bowls.
Beathard’s career as an executive started in 1963 with the Kansas City Chiefs and lasted until 2000, his final season as San Diego Chargers general manager. He was part of four Super Bowl teams, in 1972 and 1973 as the Miami Dolphina’ director of player personnel and in 1982 and 1987 as Washington Redskins general manager.
Kramer, a five-time All-Pro for Vince Lombardi’s Green Bay Packers teams of the 1960s, had to wait a long time for enshrinement. He was a finalist 10 times and didn’t get in, and his 11th time was as a senior finalist. The other senior finalist was Brazile, who played all 10 of his NFL seasons for the Houston Oilers and made seven Pro Bowls.
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