With each fall comes the induction of some of the greatest gridiron heroes the game has ever seen in to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The busts of the induction class of 2014 may be some of the greatest of all-time, as several of the most dominant defensive players in NFL history will be enshrined in Canton.
Linebacker, Derrick Brooks has single handedly ruled the state of Florida at all levels of the game. The high school All-American went on to play his college football at Florida State University, where he was the ACC Defensive Player of the Year in 1993 and had his number retired by the university. Brooks was selected by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the first round of the 1995 NFL Draft and became the most important player in franchise history. While anchoring the Bucs D, Brooks was named to 11 Pro Bowls and helped Tampa Bay win their first and only Super Bowl.
Former Tennessee State hero, Claude Humphrey was one of the first great defensive lineman the NFL had been lucky enough to see. Said to be the player who molded the careers of Reggie White and Michael Strahan, Humphrey played his football for the Atlanta Falcons and Philadelphia Eagles throughout the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s. The defensive end played in six Pro Bowls and was named a First-Team All-Pro five times throughout his illustrious career in the NFL.
Andre Reed is quite possibly the greatest athlete that the city of Buffalo, New York has ever seen. The former Bills superstar wide receiver absolutely dominated the field in the 80’s and 90’s. Andre Reed played 15 seasons with the Buffalo Bills, where he was named a seven-time Pro Bowler and helped his team reach four consecutive Super Bowls. Reed ranks among the top of the list for nearly every all-time receiving record, like receptions, yards, and touchdowns. The wide out becomes only the eighth Bill in franchise history to be voted in to the Hall, alongside legends Bruce Smith, Thurman Thomas, and Jim Kelly.
2014 Hall of Fame inductee, Aeneas Williams was a lockdown defensive back for multiple NFL teams. Originally with Arizona, Williams was named to six Pro Bowls as a Cardinal and his impeccable defense earned him a spot in the franchises ring of honor. The former Southern University star then went on to join the defensive side of St. Louis’ “Greatest Show on Turf” in 2001. As a member of the Rams, Williams was named to two more Pro Bowls, won an NFC Championship, and was honored as a player on the St. Louis 10th Anniversary Team. Aeneas Williams retired from pro football fifth all-time in non-offensive touchdowns.
The Pro Football Hall of Fame will see a bit of history in their newest class, as they recently inducted their first ever punter. Raiders great, Ray Guy was named to the 2014 Hall of Fame class, becoming only the second kicker to earn a spot in Canton, and the first player to purely specialized in punting. No punter in the history of the National Football League has put together a career as decorated as that of Ray Guy. The long-time Raider was named to seven Pro Bowls, the NFL’s 75th Anniversary All-Time Team, and led the Oakland/Los Angeles franchise to three Super Bowl victories.
Long-time Seattle Seahawks hero, Walter Jones is the only offensive lineman in the Class of 2014. Jones was as reliable as it got on the Seattle offensive line, starting in 180 NFL games and being named to nine consecutive Pro Bowls. The former Florida State Seminole is best known for protecting quarterback Matt Hasselbeck and running back Shaun Alexander during the Seahawks run to Super Bowl XL. Jones had his #71 jersey retired by Seattle and was also named to the NFL 2000’s All-Decade Team.
Former New York Giants defensive end, Michael Strahan is arguably the most decorated and deserving player to enter the Pro Football Hall of Fame this year. Strahan cemented his legacy as one of the greatest New York Giants of all-time with his 141.5 sacks that ranks in the top five in NFL history. The Texas native was a key reason the Giants were one of the most successful teams in the league in the 2000’s and it was only fitting that he retired after New York’s come from behind Super Bowl XLII victory against the previously-undefeated New England Patriots. When it was all said and done, Michael Strahan retired as a seven-time Pro Bowler, four-time First-Team All-Pro, and two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year.