NFL: 2015 Hall of Famers react, reflect

The eight players and contributors elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday reacted to the news and reflected on their careers.

Tim Brown
Bio from the Pro Football Hall of Fame: Wide Receiver/Kick Returner/Punt Returner … 6-0, 195 … Notre Dame … 1988-2003 Los Angeles/Oakland Raiders, 2004 Tampa Bay Buccaneers … 17 seasons, 255 games … Heisman Trophy Winner … Selected by Raiders in 1st round (6th player overall) of 1988 draft … As rookie led NFL in kickoff returns, return yards, and yards per return average … Led NFL in receptions, 1997 … Set Raiders franchise records for receptions, receiving yards, and punt return yards … At time of retirement his 14,934 receiving yards were second-highest total in NFL history; 1,094 receptions were 3rd; and 100 touchdown catches were tied for 3rd … Also gained 190 rushing yards; 3,320 punt return yards, 3 fumble return yards; 1,235 kickoff return yards … Total of 19,682 combined net yards, 5th all-time at time of retirement … Scored 105 total touchdowns (100 receiving, 1 rushing, 3 punt returns, 1 kickoff return) … Voted to Pro Bowl nine times, 1989 and 1992 as kick returner, 1994 -98, 2000 and 2002 as a receiver … All-Pro choice as a kick returner, 1988 … All-Pro wide receiver, 1997 … Was named All-AFC as a kick returner, 1988, punt returner, 1991, and wide receiver, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1997 … Born July 22, 1966 in Dallas, Texas.

His reaction: “First of all, the great Ron Wolf drafted me into the league, so it’s an incredible double honor to be going in with him. I don’t think there’s any doubt that without Jon Gruden, what he did for me in those fours, my numbers were OK, but when he came in for four years, what we were able to do put me in a totally different atmosphere. I had the chance to speak to them already tonight and thank him for what he was able to do. As far as who will give my speech, it will be my brother. He’s the one that taught me how to catch the ball when I was 7 years old. If not for him, I don’t think I was would have played the game.”

Jerome Bettis
Bio from the Pro Football Hall of Fame: Running Back … 5-11, 243 … Notre Dame … 1993-95 Los Angeles/St. Louis Rams, 1996-2005 Pittsburgh Steelers … 13 seasons, 192 games … Selected by Rams in 1st round (10th player overall) of 1993 draft … Earned Rookie of Year honors ... Finished rookie season with seventh best rookie rushing total in league history... As rookie finished second in rushing yards and third in total yards from scrimmage ... First Rams rookie to rush for 1,000 yards since Eric Dickerson, 1983 … Rams leading rusher 1993-95 … Steelers leading rusher 1996-2001, 2003-04 … Steelers leader in total yards from scrimmage, 1996-2001 … His fifty 100-plus yard games ranks 1st in Steelers history … At time of retirement, his eight 1,000-plus yard seasons was tied for third-best in NFL history and his 13,662 ranked fifth all-time in career rushing yards … Ranked 19th all-time in combined net yards at time of retirement … Voted to Pro Bowl six times: 1994, 1995, 1997, 1998, 2002, 2005 … Named All-Pro in 1993 (AP, PFWA), 1996 (AP); All-Pro Second Team 1997 (AP); All- NFC 1993 (UPI, PW); All-AFC 1996 (UPI, PW), 1997 (PW) … Born February 16, 1972 in Detroit, Michigan.

His reaction: “To think a little fat kid from Detroit who had never played football until high school, to think that I could ascend to this level, this is something that I never dreamed of, never thought of. My goal when I played football in high school was to get to college. Once I got to college and realized that the opportunity was there to earn a living and help my family, so at no point was there ever a time that I thought to myself that I had the ability to get to the Hall of Fame. That was never the idea. To now actually be here, it’s humbling. Some of the greatest men to have ever played the game, to see Jim Brown, to know that I am now a teammate of the greatest running back to ever play this game, that’s a special and humbling moment and it’s something I’ll cherish for the rest of my life.”

Other notes: Bettis’ mother is battling cancer. “God is great because he helps you through and gives you what you need, maybe not what you want but what you need, and this was something that was very special because my mother and my father, they followed me through this entire journey. My mother didn’t miss a high school game; she didn’t miss a college game. They went to every single game I played in the NFL and they took this journey with me. My father is no longer with us and my mother is battling cancer so for me to be able to take this journey with her and give this moment to her, it’s special.”

Charles Haley
Bio from the Pro Football Hall of Fame: Defensive End/Linebacker … 6-5, 242 … James Madison … 1986-1991, 1999 San Francisco 49ers, 1992-96 Dallas Cowboys … 12 seasons, 169 games … Selected by 49ers in 4th round (96th player overall) in 1986 draft … Only player in NFL history to play on five winning Super Bowl teams (XXIII, XXIV, XXVII, XXVIII, XXX) … Began career at linebacker and led 49ers in sacks in each of first six seasons … Recorded four double-digit sack totals with 49ers including 12 as rookie and career-high 16 in 1990 … Moved to defensive end after trade to Dallas … Added two more double-digit sack seasons, 1994, 1995 … Suffered serious back injury, limited to just five games, 1996 … Retired after undergoing surgery … After a two-year hiatus, signed with 49ers as backup defensive end for two playoff games in 1998 … In 1999 came back for final season, added three sacks to finish career with 100.5 … Twice named NFC Defensive Player of the Year (1990, 1994), voted to five Pro Bowls, named All-Pro twice, once as linebacker, once as defensive end … Played in six NFC championship games over seven seasons … Starting at left outside linebacker in 49ers 1988, 1989, 1990 championship games; at right defensive end in Cowboys’ 1992, 1993, 1994 conference championships … Member of 10 division championship teams during his 12 seasons … Born January 6, 1964 in Gladys, Virginia.

His reaction: “I’ve been waiting for this day. The two owners that I had, Ed DeBartolo and Jerry Jones, are very, very special to me. And if Coach (Bill) Walsh was alive, he would be the guy inducting me because he did so much for me, I just can’t explain. So I’ll have to think about it, but in my heart, the owners that I had are the greatest. It’s going to be warm. We’ll see when I get to Canton, I guess. … (Walsh) followed me my whole career. Even on his death bed he called me and talked to me. He always wanted to know, ‘Chuck, what do you want to do? How can I help?’ I haven’t had that many people in my life that did things like that. … It’s been a hard road, but I’ve loved the journey.”

“The Cowboys are a family. When my daughter Brianna was sick with leukemia, Jerry (Jones) opened up the stadium for us to have the biggest bone marrow drive. Jerry put me in the Ring of Honor and I only played (in Dallas) five years. Jerry has been in my corner. (The other Cowboys Hall of Fame teammates – Emmitt Smith, Troy Aikman, Michael Irvin), we broke bread together, we cried together and we fought together. I don’t know what to say. I’m so damn happy right now.”

Bill Polian
Bio from the Pro Football Hall of Fame: Contributor … 1978-1982 Kansas City Chiefs, 1984-1992 Buffalo Bills, 1993-94 National Football League, 1995-97 Carolina Panthers, 1998-2011 Indianapolis Colts … Spent 32 seasons in NFL during which time he earned reputation of building franchises into dominant playoff teams ... Most noted for turning fortunes of three different teams that resulted in combined five Super Bowls, Buffalo Bills (3) Indianapolis Colts (2) ... Began as a scout for Kansas City Chiefs … Took over as general manager of Bills, 1984 … Built team into powerhouse, leading to four straight AFC Eastern Division titles (1988 to 1991) including back-to-back 13-3 records in 1990, ‘91. Bills earned three straight Super Bowl berths after winning AFC championships, 1990-92 ... Worked in NFL office, 1993-94 as Vice President of Football Development before becoming general manager of expansion Carolina Panthers ... Led Carolina to NFC championship in just second season ... The ‘96 Panthers knocked off Cowboys in the NFC Divisional Playoff Game before falling to Packers in NFC championship ... In 1998, moved on to Indianapolis Colts as President/General Manager ... During tenure Colts experienced great success including eight division crowns and two Super Bowl appearances highlighted by victory in Super Bowl XLI ... With Polian at helm, Colts advanced to postseason 11 times during 12-season span and posted 10 or more wins in each of those playoff years … Led teams to eight championship games, Bills (4), Panthers (1) and Colts (3) ... First administrator to be named NFL’s Executive of the Year by The Sporting News six times ... Born December 8, 1942.

His reaction: “It’s really overwhelming. Never in a million years would I ever have thought that I would be here. This is just something that you look upon, and these guys here, they’re so far beyond my pay grade it’s not even close. I’m overwhelmed to be here, but what this is about for me the players and coaches that I’ve been so fortunate I’ve been able to be with over the years. The biggest thrill tonight is to be able to share it obviously with family, but to have Jim Kelly and Peyton Manning here, too, because they’re the reason I’m here.”

Other notes: Polian said Marv Levy will induct him. “Without him, everything I have and everything good that has come to me in this business is because of him. I’ve often said everything I learned about pro football I learned from him and most of the things I know about life I’ve learned from him.”

Junior Seau
Bio from the Pro Football Hall of Fame: Linebacker … 6-3, 250 … Southern California … 1990-2002 San Diego Chargers, 2003-05 Miami Dolphins, 2006-09 New England Patriots … 20 seasons, 268 games … Selected by San Diego in 1st round (5th player overall) of 1990 NFL Draft … Started 15 of 16 games he played as a rookie, finished as team’s second-leading tackler … First-team All-Pro selection eight times … Selected to play in 12 Pro Bowls … Recorded 56.5 sacks during career … Intercepted 18 passes for 238 yards … Exemplified perseverance, leadership and a level of excellence that earned him national recognition as a premier linebacker … Recorded 10 or more tackles in a game 64 times … In 1994 helped lead Chargers to first and only Super Bowl appearance … Recorded 10 or more tackles in a game 10 times that year (eight in regular season and twice in playoffs), and recorded 155 tackles, 5.5 sacks, 3 fumble recoveries, forced a fumble and had three passes defensed … Was Chargers leading tackler eight times and led team in sacks twice (1996 and 1997) … Played in Super Bowl XLII with New England Patriots … Was Chargers MVP six times, NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 1992 … Named to NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 1990s … Born January 19, 1969 in San Diego, California … Died May 2, 2012, at the age of 43.

The late Seau’s son Tyler representing him: “This is a huge honor for our family. It’s definitely with a heavy heart I’m accepting this. He should be – well, he is here with us right now – and he is joining this family as everybody has talked about as a team. Emotionally, it’s tough. We’re missing a huge part, but we’re staying strong. This is a blessing and we’re humbled to be a part of this family.”

Will Shields
Bio from the Pro Football Hall of Fame: Guard … 6-3, 320 … Nebraska … 1993-2006 Kansas City Chiefs … 14 seasons, 224 games … Selected by Chiefs in 3rd round (74th player overall) of 1993 draft … Placed into lineup in first NFL game after starting left guard suffered injury … Next week was inserted as starting right guard … Started every game from that point through retirement … Never missed a game during 14-season career, 224 games played, 223 starts are franchise records … As rookie helped Chiefs to an 11-5-0 mark and AFC Western Division crown, first division title for team since 1971 … Chiefs won four division titles and made six playoff appearances during Shields’ career … Earned 12 straight Pro Bowl berths … Named first-team All-Pro in 1999, 2002, and 2003, picked as second-team All-Pro four times … Was All-AFC seven times including each of final six seasons … Chiefs led NFL in total yards gained in 2004 and 2005 and topped AFC in that category in 2003 … Led NFL in points scored in 2002 and 2003 highlighted by running back Priest Holmes’ then-record 27 rushing touchdowns in ‘03 … In 1994, Chiefs offensive line established a franchise record allowing a mere 19 sacks … A member of the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 2000s … Joined Hall of Fame linebacker Derrick Thomas in 1999 as only active players named to Chiefs’ 40th Anniversary Team … Born September 15, 1971 in Fort Riley, Kansas.

His reaction: “You know that it wasn’t just your individual (skills) that get you to this point. It’s everyone else pushes you to be the best you can be. Actually seeing the guys from the AFC West that you played against (in this Hall of Fame class), week in and week out, that’s what made you get to this point. That’s what made you get to this next level and to push you to be as good as you can be.”

Mick Tingelhoff
Bio from the Pro Football Hall of Fame: Center … 6-2, 237 … Nebraska … 1962-1978 Minnesota Vikings … 17 seasons, 240 games … Originally signed by Minnesota Vikings as a free agent out of the University of Nebraska, earned a starting nod at center as rookie and never relinquished role for remainder of stellar 17-season career … Known for his durability, toughness, and perseverance he never missed a game or practice and started all 240 regular season games of career that ended after 1978 season ... Also played in 19 playoff games during his career …Anchored an offensive line that helped Vikings claim 10 divisional titles in an 11-season span from 1968 to 1978 ... Minnesota also won in four of five NFL/NFC championships in which they played and advanced to Super Bowl four times ... Excelled in era and a division in which middle linebackers like Hall of Famers Joe Schmidt, Ray Nitschke and Dick Butkus dominated – and center often had to get out and block them in space ... Tingelhoff also played at an All-Pro level when defensive tackles like Merlin Olsen and Bob Lilly were wreaking havoc … Received national accolades by third season (1964) with first of seven consecutive seasons in which he was named first-team All-Pro … Was elected to Pro Bowl six straight times (1965-1970) ... Was All-NFL or All- Pro-choice seven times (1964–1970) … Born May 22, 1940 in Lexington, Nebraska.

His reaction: “It feels great. It really does feel great. I never thought I would (get inducted), but here I am. I was very lucky, because I played 17 years and never got hurt and never missed a game. I played 240 games straight. I was very lucky. I never got hurt, but I was a center. I wasn’t getting hit. I was hitting middle linebackers.”

Ron Wolf
Bio from the Pro Football Hall of Fame: Contributor … Oklahoma … 1963-1974, 1979-1989 Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders, 1966 American Football League, 1976-78 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 1990-91 New York Jets, 1991-2001 Green Bay Packers … Began career as a scout for Raiders in 1963 … Recognized as one of finest personnel men in pro football … Made lasting mark as longtime player personnel director for Raiders and later as the Executive Vice President/General Manager of the Green Bay Packers ... Wolf spent 23 seasons helping build a Raiders franchise that posted winning seasons in all but six years during that span … Raiders claimed nine division titles, played in eight AFL/AFC championship games and three Super Bowls ... In 1966 when Raiders owner Al Davis was named Commissioner of American Football League, Wolf joined AFL as Coordinator of Talent … Returned with Davis to Raiders prior to start of 1966 season, remaining through 1974 coordinating club’s personnel operations … At age 37 named general manager of expansion Tampa Bay Buccaneers and built foundation that earned team trip to NFC championship by fourth season … Rejoined Raiders in 1979 heading up personnel operations until 1990 when he briefly joined the New York Jets … During 11 seasons as Executive VP/General Manager, turned Packers into dominant NFL Franchise, claiming three straight NFC Central Division titles and back-to- back Super Bowl appearances ... 1996 Packers posted first 16-win season in franchise history that included thrilling 35-21 win over New England in Super Bowl XXXI … Born December 30, 1938 in New Freedom, Pennsylvania.

His reaction: “The induction is the result of a lot of people that made this all happen. I’m just one person that had a lot of good people around me. It’s more of a team thing. Like Bill (Polian), I’m completely overwhelmed that one never thinks about or ever thinks they are capable of ever going to achieve when you’re where I was. Like Bill, you owe a lot to the players and the coaches that helped you get to where you are.”


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