Update: The Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2017 was inducted Saturday night, and each inductee thanked those who helped them reach their goals. LaDainian Tomlinson's speech focused on unity in the United States, and Kurt Warner talked about how Dan Marino's face on a Wheaties box in a grocery store motivated him to not give up his dreams of becoming an NFL quarterback. Kenny Easley, Jason Taylor, Morten Andersen, Terrell Davis, and Jerry Jones also gave great speeches.
The full Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2017 has been announced, and there are a few surprises. The biggest is that former wide receiver Terrell Owens did not make it, and the class has a pair of inductees from the running back position in both LaDainian Tomlinson and Terrell Davis.
Tomlinson highlights the class, which is fully made up of Tomlinson, Davis, defensive end Jason Taylor, quarterback Kurt Warner and kicker Morten Andersen. As a contributor, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones made it and senior committee nominee and former NFL safety Kenny Easley also made it.
Easley was the first inducted during the Enshrinement Ceremony on Aug. 5 and it ended with Warner:
Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2017
|Saints, Falcons, Giants, Chiefs, Vikings
|Dolphins, Washington, Jets
|Rams, Giants, Cardinals
Again, Tomlinson is one of the bigger highlights of the class. It’s his first year of eligibility, and he was a no-brainer as he was consistently the best running back in the league for the majority of his career with the Chargers’ organization.
Everyone is a big name, really. Taylor was a defensive end for 15 years in the league, spending 13 of them with the Miami Dolphins. He finished his career with a massive 139.5 sacks. He and Tomlinson were the only players in their first year of eligibility to make the cut down to be among the 15 modern-era finalists. And now both have made it.
Davis is far from being a first-ballot Hall of Fame player. He’s had to wait an awful long time and was consistently passed over, with many suggesting his short career as a reason for him not making it. But Davis was arguably the best back in the league for the seven-year stretch he played in the NFL, and though many thought it would be difficult for two running backs to make it in the same year, he’s in.
Quarterback Kurt Warner has made it, and it was considered only a matter of time. He bounced around like a journeyman quarterback, but he still took two different teams to the Super Bowl.
Interestingly, former commissioner Paul Tagliabue did not make it into the Hall of Fame, with reports suggesting he came up just one vote short of the honor. In an era of the NFL where there are more people questioning Roger Goodell than ever before, Tagliabue’s reign over the NFL has taken on a new meaning.
From 1989 through 2006, Tagliabue led the NFL through a period of major growth, and he mostly stayed away from controversy. It will be interesting to see if he makes it in the future as a contributor.
Jones did make it as a contributor, and his induction was viewed as a formality given what he’s meant to the NFL over the years. He has helped the league in various ways, most notably with the Fox TV deal in 1994, and of course he oversaw the Cowboys’ transformation into one of the greatest franchises in the league.
Easley made it in as the Seniors Committee nominee. The former Seattle Seahawks safety was a hard-hitter and was the league’s Defensive Player of the Year in 1984. He did make it after playing just seven seasons, which was one of the primary arguments against Davis, interestingly enough.
Former NFL safety John Lynch didn’t make it this year. He was a physically dominant player for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Denver Broncos, and his name took on recent significance as he rejoined the NFL as the general manager of the San Francisco 49ers.
The full list of finalists who did not make it this year include Tagliabue, Owens, Lynch, offensive tackle Tony Boselli, safety Brian Dawkins, offensive guard Alan Faneca, offensive tackle Joe Jacoby, center Kevin Mawae, wide receiver Isaac Bruce and cornerback Ty Law.
Last year’s class was also a big one because it included quarterback Brett Favre, and it was thought that it might be one of the best ever because it also potentially included Owens, but not only did he fail to make it then, he didn’t make it this year.