Lofton bound for Hall of Fame

James Lofton, who launched his all-pro career with the Green Bay Packers in the late 1970s, will be one of five enshrinees for the 2003 Pro Football Hall of Fame. Lofton will be formally inducted into the Hall of Fame on Aug. 3 along with running back Marcus Allen, defensive end Elvin Bethea, offensive lineman Joe DeLamielleure, and coach Hank Stram.<p>

Lofton, 45, was inducted into the Packer Hall of Fame in 1999. He spent his first nine seasons with the Packers and played 16 seasons overall. In that time Lofton caught 764 passes for 14,004 yards - an average of 18.3 yards per catch. Nine times he recorded more than 50 catches in a season. His 14,004 career-reception yardage mark was an NFL best at the time of his retirement, while his 43 games with 100 or more yards receiving ranked third.

The Packers used the sixth overall pick of the 1978 draft to select Lofton out of Stanford. A deep threat from the get-go, Lofton caught three touchdown passes in just his second pro game and went on to be named the NFL's offensive rookie of the year.

"You're talking about a world-class runner," said former Packers center Larry McCarren, who played with Lofton.

Lofton was selected to play in seven Pro Bowls. He led the Packers in receptions each year except one (1979). Five of those years he gained more than 1,000 receiving yards. He was only the fifth player in NFL history to do so, joining the likes of Lance Alworth, Steve Largent, Don Maynard, and Art Powell.

But In nine years with the Packers, Lofton was part of just two winning seasons.

"I remember someone asking me, what happens if you're like (former New Orleans Saints quarterback) Archie Manning," Lofton said. "You never play in the Super Bowl and never play on a winning team. I didn't think that was going to happen to me because everytime you go out on the field, you play to win. You just don't play to rack up numbers and statistics because those aren't really important."

Lofton's Green Bay career came to a rocky end when he was charged with second-degree sexual assault in December of 1986 following an incident at a now-defunct Green Bay nightclub. He was acquitted of the charge a few months later and traded to the Los Angeles Raiders.

The Raiders left him unprotected after the 1988 season and Lofton signed with the Buffalo Bills midway through the 1989 season.

In 1991, at age 35, Lofton became the oldest player in league history to record 1,000 receiving yards in a season. That same year he recorded a career-best 220 receiving yards in a game against the Cincinnati Bengals. His often-inspirational play earned him his eighth Pro Bowl bid.

In 13 playoff game appearances, Lofton caught 41 passes for 759 yards and eight touchdowns, including a seven-reception game in Super Bowl XXVI. In three of those playoff games he recorded 100-yard plus performances.

The 2003 class will increase to 221 the number of all-time greats permanently honored in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Formal enshrinement ceremonies will be held in Canton, home of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, on Sunday, August 3, 2003. The Packers and Kansas City Chiefs will play in the annual AFC-NFC Hall of Fame Game on Monday, Aug. 4.

Packer Report Top Stories