Posts Tagged ‘pro football hall of fame’

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Ray Lewis is arguably the most important player in Baltimore Ravens history, and head coach John Harbaugh believes the Pro Football Hall of Fame should induct the 13-time Pro Bowler as soon as possible.

The Hall announced its 108 early nominees for the 2018 class Tuesday, and Lewis was one of 11 first-year eligible players. Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Ronde Barber, Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher, and New England Patriots defensive lineman Richard Seymour join Lewis among the first-year nominees.

“Ray Lewis is a definitely first-ballot, unanimous selection to the Hall of Fame, without question,” Harbaugh said to ESPN’s Jamison Hensley on Wednesday. “There’s no doubt about that.”

Lewis won the second Super Bowl of his career under Harbaugh’s tutelage in 2012, helping the Ravens to a 34-31 victory over the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII.

His off-field history, however, includes a misdemeanor charge of obstruction stemming from previous murder charges in connection to a January 2000 killing in Atlanta. Some believe that should hinder Lewis’ candidacy, but Harbaugh dismissed that notion.

“If anybody votes against him, then there’s an agenda,” Harbaugh said.

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Randy Moss believes he’ll go down as one of the all-time great players in football history, regardless of how long it takes him to obtain a Hall of Fame jacket.

“First ballot or not, I understand what it is, man,” Moss said Thursday, according to Mark Craig of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “It’s a political war, and I was one of those guys who didn’t play (politics), nor do I intend to play into politics. So I know what I stood for. I know what the game is. I gave my all to the game, 14 years through the ups and downs, I still gave my commitment to the National Football League. Like it or not.”

The former wide receiver will be eligible for induction into the Hall of Fame for the first time in 2018. He boasts some of the greatest numbers ever amassed by a wideout, yet the same could be said for Terrell Owens, who was kept out by voters in his first round of eligibility this year.

Moss, like Owens, picked up a reputation early in his career as a poor locker-room presence, and wasn’t always on the greatest of terms with the media. Though, he seemed to turn around his image toward the end of his career.

“All I know is I just played the game to the best of my ability,” Moss said. “I put my mark, I put my stamp, I put my family’s name on football, the National Football League. You can’t get any higher.”

Moss finished his 14-year career ranked second on the NFL’s all-time list in receiving touchdowns and third in receiving yards.

Jerry Rice, Steve Largent, Paul Warfield, and Raymond Berry are the only wide receivers who’ve been elected to the Hall on the first ballot.

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Antonio Gates wasn’t going to miss out on the opportunity to see LaDainian Tomlinson officially become football royalty.

After several days of uncertainty about whether Gates would be at his former teammate’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony Saturday – uncertainty that started after a report suggested the Chargers wouldn’t let Gates and Philip Rivers miss training camp to attend – the veteran tight end ultimately got the green light.

But that’s not to say he was really seeking permission. As Gates told Marty Caswell of Mighty 1090 before the ceremony got underway, he was prepared to make the trip to Canton, Ohio even if the Chargers fined him for a brief training-camp absence.

“Absolutely,” Gates said. “I would’ve paid the fine twice to be here.”

Rivers didn’t join Gates for Saturday night’s induction ceremony, but the quarterback did pass along a congratulatory video message recorded from the end zone where Tomlinson broke the single-season touchdown record in 2006.

The star trio combined to lead a stellar offense in that season and each of the three that followed, posting top-five scoring finishes and capturing AFC West titles in four straight years.

LaDainian Tomlinson pleaded for racial unity and harmony during his Hall of Fame speech, a common theme of the evening amid a turbulent political climate.

The former Chargers running back recounted a story of his great-great-great grandfather coming to the United States on a slave ship from West Africa, and called for harmony in these polarizing times.

“The family legacy that began in such a cruel way has given birth to generations of successful, caring Tomlinsons,” he said Saturday. “I firmly believe that God chose me to help bring two races together under one last name: Tomlinson. I’m of mixed race, and I represent America. My story is America’s story. All our ancestors, unless we’re American Indian, came from another country, another culture. Football is a microcosm of America. All races, religions, and creeds living, playing, competing side by side.”

Tomlinson continued, invoking the message of change championed by former President Barack Obama.

“On America’s team, let’s not choose to be against one another. Let’s choose to be for one another. My great-great-great grandfather had no choice. We have one. I pray we dedicate ourselves to be the best team we can be, working and living together, representing the highest ideals of mankind, leading the way for all nations to follow. One of the most eloquent orators of our time said it best in his farewell address. Paraphrasing and humbly building upon what President Obama said, ‘We all have to try harder, show up, dive in and stay at it.’ I am asking you to believe in your ability to bring about change, to hold fast to the faith and the idea whispered by slaves: ‘Yes, we can.'”

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LaDainian Tomlinson paid his respects to his former coach, Marty Schottenheimer, during Saturday’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony.

Tomlinson, arguably the greatest player in Chargers history, lauded Schottenheimer as the greatest coach he had during his decorated career.

“I spent nine years with the San Diego Chargers. Head coach Marty Schottenheimer was the best coach I ever had, and we won five division titles,” Tomlinson said. “Marty, would you and your wife, Pat, please stand to be acknowledged?”

The crowd then broke out into a “MARTY!” chant to honor the 73-year-old. Schottenheimer, who is battling Alzheimer’s, was visibly moved by Tomlinson’s shout-out.

It should be noted that three of the division titles Tomlinson referenced were won under the guidance of head coach Norv Turner.

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Los Angeles Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn is blocking veterans Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates from attending the Aug. 5 Hall of Fame induction ceremony for their former teammate, LaDainian Tomlinson, sources told Alex Marvez of Sporting News.

Lynn is insisting that Rivers and Gates participate in the Chargers’ training camp session instead, adds Marvez, which will be their first at StubHub Center.

Gates is still considering attending the ceremony despite Lynn’s wishes, even if he’s fined, one source told Marvez.

Marvez notes that it’s common for teams to grant exceptions for active players to attend Hall of Fame ceremonies for former teammates, pointing to the Arizona Cardinals allowing Larry Fitzgerald to miss practice for Kurt Warner’s induction this weekend.

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The takes are getting hotter by the day.

As debate surrounding Terrell Owens’ Hall of Fame candidacy continues, the discussion has slowly begun to involve another of the most talented receivers in NFL history.

If voters can cite the “teammate” dynamic in keeping Owens out of Canton for a second straight year, surely they’d be forced to do the same when Randy Moss is first eligible next year, right?

Recently asked for his opinion on the two former superstars, Hall of Fame general manager Bill Polian gave an answer that may surprise you.

“I take neither,” Polian said, according to Clark Judge of The Talk of Fame Sports Network. “First of all, here’s my position: (I want players who) contribute both individually and to the team. T.O.’s situation, T.O.’s temperament, his ability to contribute to the team was well known up front. He was going to be a problem. We did not want to deal with problem children. Others may. We didn’t.

“That’s number one. Number two, every year in Indianapolis we said the following: ‘The price of admission is 100 percent effort all the time in everything we do.’ Well, how can we take Randy Moss when we make that statement? It’s that simple.”

Polian went on to concede that although the two could be held out initially, it’s likely only a matter of time before they get the nod. Not without characterizing such a reality as unfortunate, though.

“I think they will, unfortunately in my view, because whether you like it or not. these ‘electoral campaigns’ have a way of swinging people,” Polian said. “In my view, and I said this publicly last year, I think the Hall of Fames are for people who make their teams better, not who detract from them.

“Now, T.O. was a bigger detractor over his career than Moss, but you certainly wouldn’t call (Moss’ attitude) any harbinger or example of what you want in a football player other than when he decided to play. ‘I play when I play.’ I don’t buy it.”

Few will deny that Owens and Moss were unique personalities, and perhaps far more difficult to deal with than teams would prefer. But the argument for their place in football history, founded upon clear talent and the historic production to match, seems fairly rock solid.

Owens ranks eighth all time in receptions (1,078), second in receiving yards (15,934), and third in touchdowns. Moss ranks 15th in catches (982), third in yards (15,292), and second in touchdowns (156).