Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Week Coverage Presented by The Parkway Auto Superstore in Dover

WTUZ BIG Z Sports Reporting

It was a perfect evening in Canton Saturday night for 7 of the NFL’s greats to enter into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Not even the slightest bit of rain could dampen the spirits of fans, current players and Hall of Famers, and the Class of 2017. The night was filled with great stories about the game, inspirational and inspiring messages, and memories shared with loved ones and friends who helped get these 7 legends into the Hall. Kenny Easley was the first to give his induction speech. Easley was selected 4th overall, out of UCLA by the Seattle Seahawks in the 1981 NFL Draft. He made an immediate impact on the Seahawks defense earning AFC Defensive Rookie of the Year honors in 1981. Easley rightfully earned his nickname as “The Enforcer” for this style of play on the field. In all, Easley was named to five Pro Bowls and was a member of the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 1980’s.

After Easley was another defensive great getting his Bronze Bust. Jason Taylor, University of Akron Alum and member of the Miami Dolphins. The defensive end was selected in the third round, 73rd overall in the 1997 NFL Draft by Miami. Taylor also spent time with the Washington Redskins and New York Jets. By the time his 15-year career was over, he had tallied 139.5 career sacks which ranked sixth in the league at the time of his retirement. Taylor enjoyed his finest season in 2006 when he was named the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year.

Morten Andersen then took his place as only the second full time plackicker in the HOF. Two other plackickers are in Canton, but they also played other positions. Those being George Blanda (QB), and Lou Groza (Tackle). Andersen entered the National Football League as the fourth round draft pick of the New Orleans Saints in 1982. He left the game 25 seasons later with the most points in NFL history. In all, he played for the following teams: 1982-1994 New Orleans Saints, 1995-2000, 2006-07 Atlanta Falcons, 2001 New York Giants, 2002-03 Kansas City Chiefs, 2004 Minnesota Vikings.

Following a kicker came two elite running backs. Terrell Davis and LaDainian Tomlinson. Davis was selected in the sixth round of the 1995 NFL Draft by the Denver Broncos. The little-known back made a big splash when he earned a starting role at tailback as a rookie. He strung together four spectacular seasons before a devastating knee injury, that limited him to just 17 games over his final three seasons, prematurely ended his pro career. He shined in the biggest games by stringing together an NFL playoff record seven straight 100-yard performances spanning the 1997 and ’98 postseasons capped by Denver winning back-to-back Super Bowls. He was named league MVP in the 1998 campaign, where he rushed for 2008 yards. LaDainian Tomlinson immediately proved his worth at the pro level when the San Diego Chargers selected him fifth overall in the 2001 draft. He rushed for 412 yards and 6 touchdowns in his first four NFL games. He finished his rookie season with 1,236 yard and 10 TD’s. The 1,000-yard effort was the first of eight straight campaigns in which he surpassed the mark. Tomlinson capped off his career by playing two seasons with the New York Jets. LT finished with 162 career TD’s and 13,684 rushing yards, the latter being 5th all-time.

Next was an NFL team owner and someone whose vision extends far beyond success on the football field. Jerry Jones, the owner of the Dallas Cowboys, President and General Manager, took over the franchise in 1989 and quickly restored the winning tradition in Dallas. The first decade of the Cowboys under Jones’s guidance resulted in seven playoff appearances, six division titles, four conference championship games and becoming the first team ever to claim three Super Bowls in a four-season span. He was the driving influence behind the creation and development of AT&T Stadium, considered the “crown jewel” of all sports venues, which opened in 2009.

To cap off the evening was a two time league MVP and Super Bowl winning quarterback who had maybe one of the most unlikely journeys to Canton. Kurt Warner was stocking grocery shelves before he was at the helm of one of the most dangerous offenses in the NFL from the late 1990’s and early 2000’s. That prolific offense was nicknamed “The Greatest Show on Turf”. Warner led the St. Louis Rams to 2 Super Bowls, SB XXXIV which was a win against the Tennessee Titans, and a loss to the Patriots in SB XXXVI. He also led the Arizona Cardinals to their first ever Super Bowl, where they lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Named first-team All-Pro twice and selected to four Pro Bowls, Warner racked up 32,344 career yards, threw 208 touchdowns and recorded a 93.7 career passer rating.

The evening concluded with all 7 Enshrinees (minus Morten Andersen) posing privately for the press with their Bronze Busts, which will forever be on display at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.

WTUZ Radio Inc., 2017