Deion Sanders always was Prime Time. Now he's All Time.
Sanders and Marshall Faulk led a class of seven voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday. Joining them were Shannon Sharpe, Richard Dent and NFL Films founder Ed Sabol, and senior nominees Les Richter and Chris Hanburger.
Former Seattle Seahawks great Cortez Kennedy was among the 10 finalists. But he, along with Curtis Martin, Dermontti Dawson, Andre Reed and Willie Roaf, didn’t make the final cut.
As talkative as he was talented, known as much for his celebration dances as his interceptions and kick returns, Sanders was an outstanding cornerback and sometimes wide receiver with five teams. He’s a two-time Super Bowl winner and was the Defensive Player of the Year in 1994.
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Sanders reacted to his election with typical Neon Deion bravado. He said he’s grateful, but then made sure to explain, “what you feel about me has nothing to do with how I feel about me.”
Faulk won a Super Bowl with the 1999 Rams, was the 1994 Offensive Rookie of the Year, 2000 NFL MVP and a three-time Offensive Player of the Year (1999-2001). Faulk is the 10th leading career rusher with 12,279 yards, and for a half-dozen seasons was the most versatile back in football, as much a threat as a receiver as a runner.
Sharpe starred for Denver and Baltimore for 14 seasons and won three Super Bowls in a four-year span, two with Denver, one with Baltimore. He held league records for a tight end in receptions, yards and touchdowns when he retired in 2001.
“If you are going to have letters behind your name – I wasn’t going to have M.D. or Ph.D. – HOF is pretty good,” Sharpe said.
Bears defensive end Dent was the MVP of the 1986 Super Bowl and finished with 1371/2 career sacks. He was the top pass rusher on one of the NFL’s greatest defensive units. Dent became a starter in 1984, beginning a 10-year period in which he made 10 or more sacks in eight of 10 seasons.
Richter, who died last June, played linebacker for the Los Angeles Rams from 1954-62. They traded 11 players for him and waited two years while he was in the military before he suited up..
Hanburger spent all 14 pro seasons with the Redskins and went to nine Pro Bowls.
Induction ceremonies are Aug. 6 in Canton, Ohio.
• Outside linebacker Erik Walden (ankle) was a bystander during the Packers’ jog-through practice, putting his availability in doubt as coach Mike McCarthy said no decision will be made on Walden’s status until a few hours before kickoff.
If Walden can’t play, Frank Zombo would start.
• Steelers defensive end Aaron Smith (torn triceps) was ruled out for the game.
Philadelphia quarterback Michael Vick was the runaway winner for The Associated Press comeback player of the year, receiving 291/2 of the 50 votes. Seahawks receiver Mike Williams was second with eight votes. ... The NFL and its players’ union met for two hours to talk about a labor deal, their first formal bargaining session in more than two months.
nfl hall of fame class of 2011
Richard Dent, Defensive end, 6-5, 265
1983-1993, 1995 Bears; 1994 49ers, 1996 Colts; 1997 Eagles (15 seasons). Had 1371/2 career sacks, third all-time when he retired.
Marshall Faulk, Running Back, 5-10, 208
1994-98 Colts; 1999-2005 Rams (12 seasons). First player to gain 2,000 yards from scrimmage in four straight seasons (1998-2001).
Chris Hanburger, Linebacker, 6-2, 218
1965-1978 Redskins (14 seasons). Senior nominee. Selected first-team All-NFL four times in five-season span (1972-76).
Les Richter, Linebacker, 6-3, 238
1954-1962 Rams (nine seasons). Senior nominee. Second player drafted in 1952. Eight straight Pro Bowls; also kicked field goals.
Ed Sabol, Founder/President/Chairman NFL Films, 1964-1995
During his tenure, NFL Films won 52 Emmy Awards. Firsts in film include reverse-angle replay and popular bloopers videos.
Deion Sanders, Cornerback/Kick-Punt Returner, 6-1, 195
1989-1993 Falcons; 1994 49ers; 1995-99 Cowboys; 2000 Redskins, 2004-05 Ravens (14 seasons). First-team All-Pro nine times at CB.
Shannon Sharpe, Tight End, 6-2, 230
1990-99, 2002-03 Broncos; 2000-01 Ravens (14 seasons). Career 815 catches, 10,060 yards, 62 TDs were tight-end records when he retired.