Offensive linemen spend much of their careers getting under-noticed. Not so on Saturday as Dallas guard Larry Allen and Baltimore Ravens tackle Jonathan Ogden led a class of five honorees into the Hall of Fame for 2013.
The defensive line received its due with Tampa Bay/Oakland Raider defensive tackle Warren Sapp also being voted into pro football’s most elite society.
Wide receiver Cris Carter, who started with Buddy Ryan in Philadelphia and became a Bears tormentor with the Minnesota Vikings, was selected in his seventh year of eligibility. Coaching legend Bill Parcells filled out the field of current-era selections.
A maximum of seven can be inducted, five “current” and up to two senior players. Both seniors on the ballot were voted for induction: Kansas City/Houston defensive tackle Curley Culp and Green Bay linebacker Dave Robinson, a fixture on the Packers’ 1960s dynasty teams, were Senior Committee finalists.
Allen, from small Sonoma State college in 1994, was the most dominant member of the Dallas Cowboys line that was responsible for a large portion of Emmitt Smith’s career rushing record.
Carter played his first three seasons for the Eagles, with 45 catches in 1989 and 11 touchdowns, prompting Ryan to trade him to the Vikings because “all he can do is catch touchdowns.”
Ogden was the first draft choice of the Ravens after the team’s move from Cleveland and was voted to 11 Pro Bowls.
Parcells, whose selection was the longest of the session (55 minutes) won Super Bowls with the New York Giants in 1986 and 1990, and took the New England Patriots to a Super Bowl where they lost to the Green Bay Packers. He coached the New York Jets to an AFC Championship game and finished his coaching with four seasons with Jerry Jones and the Dallas Cowboys.
Sapp’s selection could be considered a mild surprise if only because of hard feelings existing between himself and many media members. But he was the linchpin of the Tampa Bay defense that won a Super Bowl for Jon Gruden.
The entire voting process took eight hours, reducing the initial group of 15 modern-era candidates to 10 and then to the finalists. That bumped up perilously (for TV purposes) close to the 4:30 p.m. CT start time for announcement programming.
Wide receiver Tim Brown, rush linebacker Kevin Greene, former San Francisco 49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo Jr., Kansas City guard Will Shields and Cleveland Browns/Baltimore Ravens owner Art Modell were the first round of “cuts.”
Eliminated in the culling from the final 10 to the five inductees: Rams and Steelers running back Jerome Bettis, pass rushers Charles Haley from Dallas and San Francisco and Michael Strahan, Buffalo wide receiver Andre Reed and Arizona cornerback Aeneas Williams.