PHOENIX — Junior Seau, Jerome Bettis, Tim Brown, Charles Haley and Will Shields were elected Saturday to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
The class of 2015, announced a day before the Super Bowl, also includes a pair of contributors, Bill Polian and Ron Wolf, along with senior selection Mick Tingelhoff.
Five nominees were eliminated in the final vote: Tony Dungy, Kevin Greene, Marvin Harrison, Orlando Pace and Kurt Warner.
Earlier Saturday, the selection committee reduced the list of 15 modern-day finalists by cutting Morten Andersen, Terrell Davis, John Lynch and coaches Don Coryell and Jimmy Johnson.
A candidate needs 80 percent of the vote from 46 media members to get in.
The induction ceremony is in August at Canton, Ohio.
Seau, elected posthumously, was the only first-time eligible candidate to get in this year. He committed suicide at age 43 in 2012, and researchers who studied his brain said it showed signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a disease connected to repeated head injuries, including concussions.
His death, less than 2 1/2 years after the end of his playing career, resonated among players in the league, raising worry about the physical and emotional toll the sport takes.
Two sons of Seau's represented him on stage with the other seven men elected Saturday when the class was announced during the NFL Honors show.
A field-covering, hard-hitting linebacker, the charismatic Seau played in the NFL for 20 seasons, the first 13 with the San Diego Chargers, followed by three with Miami and four with New England. He was Defensive Player of the Year for San Diego in 1992, made six All-Pro teams, and was a member of the league's All-Decade team of the 1990s.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick said this week he "loved" having Seau on his roster.
"I can't imagine having a Professional Football Hall of Fame without Junior Seau in it," said Belichick, whose team plays the Seattle Seahawks in Sunday's Super Bowl.
"I'd say the one word that comes to me when I think about Junior and football is 'passion.' He was a very passionate guy. A lot of energy. Lot of enthusiasm. First guy in the building in the morning — watching film, lifting weights, ready for practice," Belichick said. "Energy before the game, on the sideline, during the game. An emotional player, but a smart player."
Bettis, a finalist for the fifth time, was a burly running back nicknamed The Bus who began a 13-season career by earning Rookie of the Year honors for the Rams. He capped it by winning the 2006 Super Bowl with the Steelers in a game played in his hometown of Detroit.
His 13,662 yards rushing rank fifth in history and he had eight seasons of at least 1,000.
When Brown retired after the 2004 season, he ranked No. 2 in NFL history with 14,934 yards receiving, No. 3 with 1,094 catches, and No. 3 with 100 touchdown catches.
He was the 1987 Heisman Trophy winner at Notre Dame. As a rookie with the Raiders, Brown led the league in kickoff returns, return yards, and average yards per return, and was an All-Pro pick as a kick returner. He earned another All-Pro selection in 1997 at wide receiver.
Haley, elected in his 11th year of eligibility, was a defensive end and linebacker for 12 seasons with the 49ers and Cowboys. After entering the league as a fourth-round draft pick in 1986, he wound up as the first player in NFL history to play on five Super Bowl-winning teams.
He finished his career with 100 1-2 sacks and twice was an All-Pro, once at linebacker and once at defensive end.
Shields was a guard for Kansas City from 1993-2006, never missing a game in his 14 seasons. He was a first-team All-Pro three times, a second-team All-Pro four times, and was a member of the NFL's All-Decade Team of the 2000s.
Polian and Wolf were general managers who built Super Bowl champions. Polian's Bills and Colts teams reached a total of five Super Bowls, with Indianapolis winning the title in 2007. Wolf's Packers won the 1997 Super Bowl, then lost in the NFL championship game a year later.
Veterans' committee nominee Tingelhoff retired in 1978 after starting all 240 games of his career as the center for the Minnesota Vikings.
A capsule look at those elected for the Pro Football Hall of Fame:
1993-95 Los Angeles/St. Louis Rams, 1996-2005 Pittsburgh Steelers. ... 13 seasons, 192 games.
Selected by Rams in first round (10th 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 first in Steelers history. ... At time of retirement, his eight 1,000-plus yard seasons was tied for third-best in NFL history. ... His 13,662 ranks 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.
|Wide Receiver-Kick Returner|
1988-2003 Los Angeles/Oakland Raiders, 2004 Tampa Bay Buccaneers. ... 17 seasons, 255 games.
Selected by Raiders in first round (sixth 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 third; and 100 touchdown catches were tied for third. ... 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, fifth 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.
1986-1991, 1999 San Francisco 49ers, 1992-96 Dallas Cowboys. ... 12 seasons, 169 games.
Selected by 49ers in fourth round (96th overall) of 1986 draft. ... Only player in NFL history to play on five winning Super Bowl teams. ... 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.
1978-1982 Kansas City Chiefs, 1984-1992 Buffalo Bills, 1993-94 National Football League, 1995-97 Carolina Panthers, 1998-2011 Indianapolis Colts.
Most noted for turning fortunes of three different teams that resulted in combined five Super Bowls, Buffalo (3) Indianapolis (2). ... Began as a scout for Kansas City. ... Took over as general manager of Bills in 1984. ... Built team into powerhouse, winning four straight AFC Eastern Division titles (1988 to 1991) including back-to-back 13-3 records in 1990 and 1991. ... 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 1996 Panthers lost to Green Bay in NFC championship. ... In 1998, moved on to Indianapolis as President/General Manager. ... During his tenure, the Colts won eight division titles and had two Super Bowl appearances highlighted by victory in 2007 Super Bowl. ... 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.
1990-2002 San Diego Chargers, 2003-05 Miami Dolphins, 2006-09 New England Patriots. ... 20 seasons, 268 games.
First year eligible. ... Selected by San Diego in first round (fifth player overall) of 1990 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 2008 Super Bowl 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.
1993-2006 Kansas City Chiefs. ... 14 seasons, 224 games.
Selected by Chiefs in third round (74th overall) of 1993 draft. ... Inserted into lineup in first NFL game, never missed a game in career. ... His 224 games played, with 223 starts, are franchise records. ... As rookie, helped Chiefs to first division title since 1971. ... Earned 12 straight Pro Bowls. ... First-Team All-Pro in 1999, 2002, 2003. ... Second-team All-Pro four times. ... Named to NFL's All-Decade Team of 2000s.
1962-1978 Minnesota Vikings. ... 17 seasons, 240 games.
Senior nomineee. ... Signed by Minnesota Vikings as a free agent. ... Earned 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 dominating. ... Received national accolades by third season (1964) with first of seven consecutive seasons in which he was named first-team All-Pro. ... Elected to Pro Bowl six straight times (1965-1970). ... Was All-NFL or All-Pro choice seven times (1964-70).
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.
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 Green Bay's Executive VP/General Manager, claimed three straight NFC Central Division titles and back-to-back Super Bowl appearances. ... The 1996 Packers posted first 16-win season in franchise history that included thrilling 35-21 win over New England in 1997 Super Bowl.
Source: Pro Football Hall of Fame.