2017 Hall Of Fame Inductees

1. LaDainian Tomlinson– Every Hall Of Fame class has its major headliner and this year, it’s a guy who at one time was one of the most exciting players to watch. I saw a bit of Marshall Faulk’s career and when LaDainian Tomlinson came into the league, he was the closest thing I had seen to Marshall. He was the guy that helped open the door for the running backs that could do more than take hand-offs and he also had the ability to impact the game in more ways than one. He was a smooth runner with the ability to cut in between the tackles and bounce outside and no matter what he did, he found a way to get into the open field and it really didn’t matter the defensive looks and schemes up front. He was the fifth overall pick in the 2001 draft by the-then San Diego Chargers and from there, he took off. During his career, he led the league in rushing touchdowns a total of three times (2004, 2006 and 2007), he led the league in rushing yards twice (2006 & 2007) and yards from scrimmage once in 2003. I’ll never forget his MVP season in 2006. During that time, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning were both at the top of their games, Tomlinson was by far the best player in the NFL that wasn’t a quarterback. During his MVP season, he set the record with a total of 31 touchdowns (28 rushing and three receiving) and helped lead the Chargers to a 14-2 record and the top seed in the AFC playoffs that season. Not only was he a grade-a football player, he was a grade-a person off the field and was one of the classiest players that I’ve come to know in all my years of watching this game. I knew he’d be a lock to get to Canton, Ohio. This is very well deserved.

2. Kurt Warner– I really admire this man’s story and how he started out. He’s the greatest “out of nowhere” success story that I’ve ever seen in the history of sports. Let’s go back to how this all began. He went undrafted in 1994 and was signed by the Green Bay Packers and backed up Brett Favre. He was released prior to the season starting and took a job at a local grocery story in Cedar Rapids, Iowa and was making $5.50 an hour. He often claims that this is the start of his road to the NFL. In 1999, Trent Green got hurt during a preseason game and Kurt was finally given his chance to show what he was made off and he never looked back. Coach Dick Vermeil stated that the Rams would rally around Kurt Warner and they would play good football and that they did. With the help of Marshall Faulk, Issac Bruce, and Torry Holt along with Ricky Proel and Az-Zahir Hakim, Kurt Warner put together a season that won him an MVP and he also helped lead the Rams to a Super Bowl victory over the Tennessee Titans. That Rams high-powered offense ran by Mike Martz and anchored by Warner on the field then became known as the “greatest show on turf”, one of the best offenses I’ve ever seen in NFL history. He always had command and control of his offenses and was able to make all the throws on the football field. He did bounce around quite a bit during his career. He signed with the Giants in 2003 and eventually lost his job to Eli Manning. In 2005, he signed with the Arizona Cardinals and ended up becoming the starter in 2008 where we saw a vintage Kurt Warner that took a Cardinals franchise that was once the laughing stock of the NFL to higher places. Once they got to the playoffs, his experience showed as he led Arizona to wins over Atlanta in the first round, a heavily favored Panthers team in the second round and the Eagles in the NFC championship and got back to the Super Bowl where they fell short against the Pittsburgh Steelers. He’s the perfect example of “it’s not how you start, but you must start”. You truly can do anything you set out to do. He started as a grocer and now, he’s being enshrined in Canton as a great.

3. Jason Taylor– Okay, we all know how the saying goes by now: You better have game if you have two first names and this guy did. He was a third-round draft pick from the University of Akron in 1997 and from there, he established himself as a force and one of the best defensive players in the NFL and this is during a time when guys like Reggie White, Michael Strahan, John Randle and Warren Sapp were the talk of defensive linemen, Jason Taylor fit right in with those guys and those listed are all enshrine-es in Canton and now, Jason gets to join them. He was a 6’6 defensive end that could do a wide variety of things on the field. He was able to knock down passes and used his long arms and height to his full advantage, he was disruptive on the edges and when you needed him to get to the quarterback, he did just that. In 2006, he enjoyed the best year of his career. He recorded 13.5 sacks, he forced 10 fumbles, two of those fumbles were recovered and intercepted two passes which were returned for touchdowns. That body of work earned him the defensive player of the year. Taylor’s dominance led to his being named to the Pro Bowl six times, the All-Pro first team three times and the NFL’s All-Decade Team in the 2000s. He was the best at his position for more than a decade and he enters the Hall Of Fame on his first year of eligibility. It will also help when a guy that you faced two times a year for a decade also writes a letter on your behalf. Yes, I’m talking about Tom Brady, a guy who will be a no brainer heading to Canton when it’s all said and done.

4. Terrell Davis– His career may have been shorter than most people who have been inducted into the Hall Of Fame, but the one thing I can say is his career was heavy on production. His numbers speak for themselves. For his career, he finished with 7,067 rushing yards, 60 rushing touchdowns, he’s a three-time pro bowler, a three-time all-pro selection, a two-time NFL offensive player of the year where he led the league in both seasons (1996 & 1998), a league MVP and two Super Bowl rings in which he was a big factor in helping the Broncos win the Lombardi trophy to Denver. He accomplished all of this as a sixth-round draft pick in 1995, the sixth round, 195th pick overall that year in the draft and is the second-best sixth round draft pick in NFL history behind a guy named Tom Brady. His career began with four straight 1,000-yard rushing seasons, and he became one of seven players in NFL history to break the 2,000-yard barrier in 1998 when he was named NFL MVP.

5. Morten Andersen– He made history yet again by becoming just the fourth place-kicker inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Andersen played for five different teams, including the New Orleans Saints, Atlanta Falcons, Kansas City Chiefs, Minnesota Vikings and New York Giants. He holds the NFL record for most career field goals made (565), points (2,544), games played (382) and ranks second in extra points made (849).In addition to his career records, Andersen was named to seven Pro Bowls, three All-Pro first teams and was part of the NFL’s All-Decade Team for the 1980s and 1990s. The kicker isn’t the most glamorous position, but it’s vital to the success of an NFL team. Andersen’s level of consistency over such a prolonged period warrants his inclusion into the Hall.

6. Jerry Jones– He is known as one of the more flamboyant, charismatic and controversial characters in the world of sports from an ownership perspective, but we can’t sit here and deny the impact he’s had on our game. He bought the Dallas Cowboys in 1989 and after the firing of legend Tom Landry and then general manager Tex Schramm, Mr. Jones took control of the franchise and turned the Dallas Cowboys into a dynasty in the 1990s with three Super Bowl championships within a span of four years from 1992 to 1995. The Cowboys also made the playoffs eight times in nine seasons and won six NFC East division titles. Mr.Jones’ success as an owner and businessman has made him a very well-known figure in the NFL, but there’s no denying that his impact over nearly three decades makes him worthy of a spot in Canton.

7. Kenny Easley– He was selected fourth overall by the Seattle Seahawks in 1981, Kenny Easley spent his entire seven-year career with the franchise. During his time leading Seattle’s secondary, Easley was an All-Pro first-team selection in three straight seasons from 1983 to 1985. He also played in five Pro Bowls, was named NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 1984 when he led the league with 10 interceptions and later made it to the All-Decade team in the 1980s. Easley’s playing career came to an abrupt end after the 1987 season when he was traded to the Phoenix Cardinals and diagnosed with idiopathic nephrotic syndrome during his physical. Despite playing just seven NFL seasons, Easley finished with 32 interceptions and eight sacks. He fit more than a decade’s worth of accomplishments into a short period and will be honored with a spot in Canton for his efforts.