clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Pro Football Hall of Fame 2015 class: Jerome Bettis, Charles Haley among inductees

New, comments

The 2015 Pro Football Hall of Fame class includes Charles Haley, Jerome Bettis, Tim Brown, Junior Seau, Will Shields, Bill Polian, Ron Wolf and Mick Tingelhoff.

Allen Kee/Getty Images

The Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2015 was announced at the NFL Honors show on Saturday, and there's no real surprises. The first confirmed player was Jerome Bettis of the Pittsburgh Steelers, who confirmed his selection on Twitter. The rest of the names quickly followed: Charles Haley, Tim Brown, Junior Seau, Will Shields, Bill Polian, Ron Wolf and Mick Tingelhoff.

Bettis always had the raw numbers to make it, but many questioned his chances given that he was never really considered the "best" running back in the league at any point during his playing days. But he put up eight seasons of 1,000-plus yards, which at the time of his retirement was the third-best in NFL history. He's fifth all-time in career rushing yards with 13,662.

Haley has been a finalist several times, and many have questioned why he wasn't already inducted given that he is the only player in NFL history to have five Super Bowl rings as a player. He has rings from Super Bowl XXIII, XXIV, XXVII, XXVIII and XXX. Injury wound up limiting his ability to continue on his career, but he had seven double-digit sack seasons and finished his career with 100.5 sacks. He was named the defensive player of the year twice, in 1990 and 1994, and was voted to five Pro Bowls.

Many felt that Junior Seau was going to be a shoo-in for the class, so it's no surprise that he wound up making it. One of the greatest San Diego Chargers players ever, Seau played 20 seasons in the NFL, making it to 12 Pro Bowls with six All-Pro nods. He was the 1992 NFL Defensive Player of the Year and was as sure-fire an entrant as any to make it this year.

Brown has been a finalist multiple times, but the sheer number of successful wide receivers in recent years has made it awfully tough for them to make it into the Hall of Fame. Brown had more than 1,000 catches when he retired, and primarily with bad quarterbacks, which says a lot more about his success. At the time of his retirement, he had the second-most receiving yards in NFL history.

Shields was an ironman and didn't miss a single game in 14 seasons. That's 224 games played, with 223 starts. The Chiefs won four division titles and made six playoff appearances with Shields blocking. He earned 12 consecutive Pro Bowl berths and helped Priest Holmes to a then-record 27 rushing touchdowns in 2003.

Polian, listed as a contributor, spent 32 seasons building franchises from the ground up. His teams went to five Super Bowls, three with the Buffalo Bills and two with the Indianapolis Colts. Indianapolis went to the postseason 11 out of the 12 seasons Polian was the president and general manager. He was named the NFL's Executive of the Year by The Sporting News six times.

Tingelhoff, a Seniors Committee pick, played 240 games over the course of 17 seasons in the 60s and 70s. He earned the starting center job as a rookie and kept it his entire career. He never missed a game or practice and played in 19 playoff games over the course of his career. He went up against guy like Dick Butkus and Ray Nitschke, and he often won the matchups.

Wolf, listed as a contributor, has always been known as one of the best personnel guys in the game. He was with the Oakland Raiders for 23 seasons, and the team was successful, with winning seasons in all but six years during his time there. He also helped turn the Green Bay Packers into one of the league's dominant franchises, taking them to back-to-back Super Bowls. The Packers won 16 games, including Super Bowl XXXI, when Wolf was with the franchise.

The Class of 2015 will now have several months to work on their speeches for the Enshrinement Ceremony. That will come on Saturday, Aug. 8. There, each of the enshrinees will receive their bronze busts and will give a speech, followed by the NFL's annual Hall of Fame game on Sunday.