Pro Football Hall of Fame 2014: Complete List of NFL Inductees to Canton
A selection committee of 46 voters has recognized the great NFL careers of seven individuals, and these men will make up the 2014 class for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
These committee selected these players from a group of 126 nominees, which was then narrowed to semifinalists and then finalists. The finalists who received 80 percent of the vote comprised this year's Hall of Fame class. The Pro Football Hall of Fame's official website provided a list of the 17 finalists for this year.
However, only the best of the best get to be enshrined in the Hall of Fame. Here is a look at the seven players who will be enshrined in Canton as part of the 2014 class.
Note: All statistics courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.com.
Derrick Brooks, Linebacker
Throughout his career, Derrick Brooks made contributions to help his team that did not always show up in the box score.
While he did record 1,301 tackles, 13.5 sacks and 25 interceptions in his career as a linebacker, he also was the heart and soul of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers throughout his 14 years in the NFL.
His best season came in 2002, when he finished with four defensive touchdowns while helping the Bucs finish first in the league in points and yards allowed. Tampa Bay wrapped up its impressive season with a Super Bowl XXXVII win, thanks in part to another defensive score by Brooks.
The 11-time Pro Bowler was one of the most versatile defensive players of his generation, capable of stopping the run, dropping into coverage or getting into the backfield on a blitz.
This helped Brooks earn a nomination to the Hall of Fame in his first year on the ballot.
Ray Guy, Punter
There has long been a debate as to whether a punter deserves inclusion in the Hall of Fame. That argument can now end as Ray Guy earned a spot in the 2014 class as a senior nominee.
The Oakland Raiders selected Guy in the first round of the NFL draft in 1973. He is the first and only punter to ever be selected in the first round. Guy proved his worth by making seven Pro Bowls in his first eight years in the league.
He also was a member of three Super Bowl-winning teams in 1976, 1980 and 1983.
Guy's accomplishments at the professional and collegiate level are so well-documented that the award for the best punter in college football every year is named the Ray Guy Award.
The former Southern Miss star is arguably the best ever to play the position, and the selection committee finally felt it was right to put him in the Hall of Fame.
Claude Humphrey, Defensive End
Although Claude Humphrey might not be a household name for today's NFL fans, he was one of the most dominant defensive ends in the league during the 1970s.
The 1968 Defensive Rookie of the Year was selected to six Pro Bowls from 1970-77 as a member of the Atlanta Falcons. According to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Humphrey earned 122 sacks in his career, although this did not become an official statistic until after he retired.
While he was not a part of too much team success with the Falcons, he finally reached the Super Bowl with the Philadelphia Eagles in 1980 before losing to the Oakland Raiders.
Humphrey's enshrinement was long overdue after his retirement in 1981, but the senior selection committee ensured that he would finally get in as part of the 2014 class.
Walter Jones, Offensive Tackle
There might not have been a more obvious selection in the 2014 class than Walter Jones.
The former first-round pick spent his entire career with the Seattle Seahawks, starting all 180 games he appeared in throughout his 13 years in the NFL.
He was the first offensive lineman in franchise history to be selected to the Pro Bowl, something he replicated eight more times in his career.
Jones was named first-team All-Pro four times in his career, which made him an easy choice to the All-Decade team for the 2000s. As one of the top offensive linemen of his generation, there was little doubt the Seahawks star would earn entrance into the Hall of Fame in his first year on the ballot.
Andre Reed, Wide Receiver
Although his chances of getting elected seemed to be running out, Andre Reed received enough votes to reach the Hall of Fame in his eighth year as a finalist.
The longtime Buffalo Bills receiver was a big part of the team's success in the early 1990s, going to four straight Super Bowls from 1990-93. His 27 receptions in the Super Bowl rank second all time.
Michael Irvin commented on Reed's career before Saturday's announcement in The Morning Call:
"It's tough for a wide receiver to get in, but it should not be so tough for Andre Reed," Irvin said this week during Super Bowl Media Day in Newark, N.J. "It's ridiculous. Andre Reed's receptions led to four straight Super Bowls for his team. These were all meaningful, direct receptions.
"Don't tell me about a guy who has 1,200 or 1,300 receptions, but they were never on winning teams. I don't want to hear about that. They were superfluous plays, plays made when it didn't count. Andre Reed made plays when it counted. I hope it's his time. He deserves it."
Reed ended his career with the Washington Redskins and retired after the 2000 season, at the time ranking third in NFL history with 951 receptions, trailing only Hall of Famers Jerry Rice and Cris Carter.
Besides just his numbers, Reed dazzled fans with his ability to make plays after the catch, often turning short routes into long touchdowns. His exciting style of play helped him reach seven straight Pro Bowls from 1988-94.
Although a few players have passed him in the record books in recent years, he still distinguished himself in his prime as one of the best ever at his position.
Michael Strahan, Defensive End
Although not always a model of consistency, few were better than Michael Strahan when he was at his best.
The defensive end spent his entire 15-year career with the New York Giants and was named first-team All-Pro four times, totaling 141.5 sacks.
Strahan's best year came in 2001 when he set the NFL record with 22.5 sacks in a season. He also totaled a career-high 62 tackles and was named the Associated Press Defensive Player of the Year for his accomplishments.
His final year in the league might be the most memorable, though, as he helped the Giants win the Super Bowl over the previously undefeated New England Patriots.
Strahan was a leader for New York and at times a dominant player on the defensive line, which led to his inclusion in the 2014 Hall of Fame class.
Aeneas Williams, Cornerback
Aeneas Williams spent his career as a defensive back, first as a cornerback and then a safety, but his true role was as a playmaker.
With the Phoenix/Arizona Cardinals and St. Louis Rams, Williams always found a way to make an impact on the game from the defensive side of the ball. He finished his career with 55 interceptions and 23 fumble recoveries and was a consistent nuisance to opposing offenses.
However, his true skill was what happened once he got the ball in his hands. The defensive back managed to get into the end zone nine times on interception returns and three times off fumbles. Add this to a blocked-field goal return in 1995, and his 13 non-offensive touchdowns rank tied for fifth all time.
Williams was named to eight Pro Bowls in his career, including one as a safety when he was 35 years old. He made as much of an impact as almost any defensive player of his generation, and this all-around game is what made him a Hall of Fame selection in his third year of eligibility.