As a player in the NFL, your number one goal is to win the Super Bowl. Hoisting the Lombardi trophy is a memory that players never forget. However, winning the Super Bowl is not the only honor that players can achieve. Winning MVPs, being voted to All-Pro/Pro bowl teams, and setting records is a nice addition to a player’s resume. But perhaps the greatest individual achievement of all is being voted to the Pro-Football Hall of Fame.
Canton, Ohio, the birthplace of the NFL, serves as the site of the Pro-Football Hall of fame. The annual tradition of inducting honorees into the immortal hall of fame has served as the kickoff to the NFL season since 1963. Announced on the eve of Super Bowl XLVIII, the class of 2013 will cap off each of their respective careers by being inducted this coming weekend.
Larry Allen was the cornerstone of the Dallas Cowboys dynasty in the 1990s. Leading the way for the NFL’s career leading rusher, Emmitt Smith, Allen played a vital role in the success of the Cowboys. He played for the Cowboys for 12 years (1994-2005) and the San Francisco 49ers for 2 years (2006-07). In that time, Allen was voted to 11 Pro Bowls and 7 straight seasons as an All-Pro. Known for his versatility, Allen played every offensive line position except center.
In 1996, the Baltimore Ravens used their first pick in franchise history on UCLA’s Jonathan Ogden. Known as a strong pass protector and run blocker, Ogden was the anchor for Raven’s offensive line for over a decade (12 seasons). Leading the way for a dangerous running game, Ogden helped lead the Ravens to a victory in Super Bowl XXV. He was voted to the Pro Bowl 11 times and was an All-Pro selection 6 times.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were NFL’s laughing stock for decades. Warren Sapp helped change the culture in the Tampa area. Once looked at as an easy win, the Buccaneers became a dangerous opponent in a large part because of a fierce defense anchored by Sapp. Despite being an interior defensive lineman, Sapp recorded 96.5 career sacks. This sack-master was elected to the Pro Bowl 7 times and was a 4-time All-Pro selection. Perhaps his most proud accomplishment was helping the Buccaneers go from a punch line to Super Bowl XXXVII champions.
Cris Carter wasn’t the fastest guy or the most physically opposing man to ever play receiver. But he found a way to stay on the field. In 13 of his 16 seasons, he found a way to be on the field in every single game. His durability was one reason Carter was reliable. Carter was only the second man in NFL history to catch 1000 passes (finished with 1,101) and set an NFL record (which has since been broken) for 122 receptions in a season (1994). He caught 130 touchdown receptions from 13 different quarterbacks. Despite not winning the Super Bowl, Carter’s peers recognized him as one of the best as he was voted to 8 Pro Bowls.
Usually when you see a coach that has moved around from place to place, it’s not a good sign. Bill Parcells is the exception. Parcells was the first coach in NFL history to take 4 different teams into the playoffs. When he took over the New York Jets and New York Giants, they were at the bottoms of their respective divisions. Parcells not only turned these teams around but got them each into the postseason. In the Giants’ case, he helped lead them to 2 Super Bowl titles (XXI and XXV). Parcells would appear in the Super Bowl one more time with the Patriots in Super Bowl XXXI.
Curley Culp, a senior nominee, played in the NFL for 14 seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs, Houston Oilers, and Detroit Lions. As a defensive tackle, he helped lead the fierce Chiefs defense to a Super Bowl IV championship. Culp was elected to 6 Pro Bowls.
Dave Robinson, also a senior nominee, was known for his big plays especially with the Green Bay Packers where he played 10 of his 12 career seasons. Robinson played as an outside linebacker on 3 NFL championship teams (1965-67) and 2 Super Bowl teams (I and II). He was elected to 3 Pro Bowls and 3 All-NFL teams.
The Pro-Football Hall of Fame class of 2013 is headlined with hard-nosed lineman who never showed up in a box score or sexy highlight package. Without these men, guys like Emmitt Smith and Jamal Lewis may have not had the same careers. Others in this class were team leaders, whether it was as a player or a coach. No, this is not the flashiest HOF class ever. But this class is full of players that were the glue that held their teams together. While you are watching this weekend, listen to the stories and notice the passion that is still in these former players. This passion, hard-work, and God-given talent has immortalized them in the Pro-Football Hall of Fame forever.
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