CANTON, United States: Defensive standouts Michael Strahan and Derrick Brooks headlined the Pro Football Hall of Fame 2014 class inducted yesterday.
Strahan, 42, was a defensive end for the New York Giants from 1993-2007. He was named the 2001 NFL Defensive Player of the Year after setting a single-season record with 22 1/2 sacks. A five-time All-Pro selection and seven-time Pro Bowler, Strahan amassed 141 1/2 sacks in his 15-season career.
“Life is about lessons and my life is improbable,” Strahan said in his induction speech. “I’m an improbable Hall of Famer ... My brothers called me B.O.B. and B.O.B meant ‘Booty On Back,’” Strahan quipped of his heavyset physique as a child -- flashing his well-known gap-toothed grin.
Brooks was a linebacker for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 1995-2008. He made 11 Pro Bowls and never missed a game during his 14-season career.
He was named NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2002 after helping the Buccaneers win the franchise’s first Super Bowl.
“I stand here so humble to be here amongst all this greatness,” Brooks said.
“This is what it’s all about.”
Also inducted yesterday were Andre Reed, Aeneas Williams, Walter Jones, Claude Humphrey and Ray Guy.
Jones and Brooks were in their first year of eligibility while Guy and Humphrey were both finalists chosen by the Hall’s Seniors Committee. The newest members of the Hall of Fame were selected from a list of 17 finalists who had been determined earlier by the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Selection Committee.
Jones was an offensive tackle for the Seattle Seahawks from 1997-2009. A member of the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 2000s, he was named All-Pro six times and voted to nine Pro Bowls.
Reed caught 951 passes for 13,198 yards and 87 touchdowns in his 16-season career with the Buffalo Bills (1985-1999) and Washington Redskins (2000). He was the Bills’ leading receiver in each of their four Super Bowl seasons.
“Patience is a virtue, and believe me I’ve waited nine long years for this patience,” Reed said. “It’s a life defined by many things, but none more important than hard work.”
Williams was a cornerback and safety with the Phoenix/Arizona Cardinals (1991-2000) and St. Louis Rams (2001-2004). A four-time All-Pro and eight-time Pro Bowl selection, he intercepted 55 passes for 807 yards and nine touchdowns during his 14-year career. Humphrey was a defensive lineman with the Atlanta Falcons (1968-1978) and Philadelphia Eagles (1979-1981).
He was named first-team All-Pro five times and earned six Pro Bowl nods.
Guy made a bit of history as the first pure punter to make the Hall of Fame. He played with the Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders from 1973-1986 and averaged at least 40 yards per punt in 13 of his 14 NFL seasons.
“Now the Pro Football Hall of Fame has a complete team,” Guy said.
“Punters keep the faith, you’re an important part of every game.”