Five-time league MVP Peyton Manning has headlined the 2021 promotion as part of the five-member modern-era squad of ex-players, alongside Charles Woodson, Calvin Johnson, Alan Faneca and John Lynch.
Others whose Hall of Fame busts were unveiled on Sunday were senior member Drew Pearson, former coach Tom Flores and longtime collaborator and scout Bill Nunn.
The Hall of Fame wrapped up a busy celebratory weekend that included the annual Hall of Fame game between the Dallas Cowboys and Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday. The NFL preseason and 2020 induction ceremonies were canceled last summer due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The biggest evidence in the group was Manning, who won 14 Pro Bowl selections (tied for most in NFL history) and seven All-Pro AP first-team nominations, tied for most. among quarterbacks, plus more MVP awards than any other player. The two-time NFL champion was the first starting quarterback in NFL history to win the Super Bowl with two different franchises, Indianapolis in 2006 and Denver in his final season, 2015.
Manning’s close friend and eternal rival, Tom Brady, was in attendance, prompting Manning to joke: “By the time Tom Brady is inducted in the first year of his eligibility in 2035, he will only have time to publish. his acceptance speech on his Instagram account, âreferring to the speaking guidelines requested by the Hall of eight minutes per person this weekend.
Pearson, who had waited 33 years before he was finally elected to football’s most famous sanctuary, was the first to speak, though he ignored all restrictions and spoke for more than 11 minutes.
An off-shore Cowboys star for all 11 seasons of his career (1973-83), the three-time All-Pro retired as the team’s all-time leader in catches and receiving yards. He was also famous for the first play called “Hail Mary,” a winning touchdown scored in the 1975 playoffs in Minnesota.
Flores was next to the Hall of Fame stage. After 10 seasons as an AFL quarterback, Flores became the second Hispanic NFL head coach and the first to win the Super Bowl in 1980 with the Oakland Raiders. He would lead the Raiders to another title three years later while playing in Los Angeles, and still holds the league’s second-best playoff score at 8-3 (0.727) – behind only Vince Lombardi.
Lynch, currently general manager of the San Francisco 49ers, was one of five players whose primary position was security to be inducted over the weekend. He earned nine Pro Bowl spots in his 15 seasons with the Tampa Bay (1993-2003) and Denver (2004-2007) Buccaneers.
Johnson, a former Detroit Lions wide receiver who retired after the 2015 season at the age of 30 after nine seasons in the NFL, was inducted as the second youngest Hall of Fame member in his first ballot – behind Gale Sayers. Johnson has twice led the NFL in yards received and still holds the 1,964 yard mark in a single season in 2012.
Faneca played guard for 13 seasons with three teams, the Steelers (1998-2007), New York Jets (2008-2009) and Arizona Cardinals (2010). He has won nine Pro Bowl nominations and was a six-time first All-Pro player.
Winner of the Heisman Trophy in Michigan in 1997, Woodson played 18 remarkable seasons and made nine Pro Bowl teams. His 65 career interceptions are tied for fifth on the all-time list and his 13 defensive touchdowns are tied for the NFL record. He is also one of three players with 25 or more picks with two different franchises, the Raiders (1998-2005, ’13-15) and Green Bay Packers (2006-2012).
Nunn, who died in 2016, spent 47 seasons with the Steelers and helped the team draft several Hall of Fame members on their way to four Super Bowl wins in the 1970s. He is considered one of the first to start researching historically black colleges, and the franchise has benefited greatly with stalwarts such as John Stallworth, Mel Blount, and Donnie Shell.
The class of 2020 that was honored on Saturday included safety Steve Atwater, wide receiver Isaac Bruce, guard Steve Hutchinson, running back Edgerrin James and safety Troy Polamalu. The Centennial squad included two head coaches – Bill Cowher and Jimmy Johnson – as well as three elected as contributors (Steve Sabol, Paul Tagliabue and George Young) and 10 former players.