Career Highlights of the 2014 Pro Football Hall of Fame Class
Few would argue that the National Football League hasn't created a world that revolves around the latest and greatest of players and personalities.
However, most football fans still understand that the modern game has been built on the backs of legends.
These iconic players of yesteryear have laid the foundation for the current game that we know and love. We are talking about the historic, the elite makers of memories who have helped forge this NFL machine.
We're talking about Hall of Famers.
The Pro Football Hall of Fame only accepts a handful of new members each year. This acceptance is worthy of recognition on the highest level. Now, it is time to pay homage to the men who have been accepted into this select brotherhood as members of the 2014 Hall of Fame class.
Over the next few pages, we will highlight the brightest accomplishments of this year's new inductees. What follows is a celebration of the latest legends to enter the ranks of the immortal.
Today's football fans probably don't recognize the name Claude Humphrey. Those same fans have also missed out on their fair share of pass-rushing greatness.
A first-round pick of the Atlanta Falcons in 1968, Humphrey was one of the earliest sack artists to terrorize the Super Bowl era.
Named NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year in his inaugural pro season, the former Tennessee State star made his mark early and often against opposing NFL quarterbacks. Humphrey racked up 126.5 sacks during his career with the Falcons and Philadelphia Eagles.
He also helped the Eagles become NFC champions during the 1980 season, a campaign in which Humphrey recorded 14.5 sacks.
Humphrey was named to six Pro Bowls during his playing career and inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a senior candidate.
Humphrey may have entered the NFL as a first-round pick, but wide receiver Andre Reed did not.
The fact that he entered the league as a fourth-round pick out of Kutztown didn't stop Reed from becoming a Buffalo Bills legend.
Reed helped the Bills reach four straight Super Bowls during his 15 seasons with the team. He was also named to seven consecutive Pro Bowls and remains one of the most prolific receivers ever to make his mark on league history.
Reed amassed an incredible 13,198 receiving yards and 87 touchdowns during his time with the Bills and Washington Redskins.
Many modern pro athletes move from team to team in search of a better situation or a better contract.
Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Derrick Brooks does not fall into this category.
A first-round pick of the Buccaneers in 1995, Brooks played 14 seasons for Tampa Bay. A true field general, Brooks managed to find his way into 11 Pro Bowls. This came despite logging just 13.5 sacks in his career.
What Brooks did was rule the field on a consistent basis and help deliver Tampa a Super Bowl title in 2002. He also racked up 1,715 tackles during his time in the NFL.
Patrick Peterson and Richard Sherman can continue to argue about who is today's best cornerback. Former Phoenix/Arizona Cardinals star Aeneas Williams did his talking on the field.
Drafted as a cornerback by the Cardinals in 1991, Williams was named to eight Pro Bowls in his playing career. He was traded to the St. Louis Rams prior to the 2001 season and helped his new team become NFC champions as a safety.
Williams racked up nearly 800 tackles (795) with 55 interceptions and nine touchdowns as a pro. The Southern University product entrenched himself in the lexicon of the modern-day ball hawk.
Punters are people, too. They can also be a valuable weapon on the football field.
Ray Guy told ESPN.com in a recent phone interview, "When you're building a team, there are a certain number of positions... and every position on a Hall of Fame team is full except for one, and that's the punter. But that is a position. I don't care how important you think it is or isn't, but it is a position and it needs to be filled."
This is exactly why Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders great Ray Guy deserves to be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Guy helped to revolutionize the NFL punting game by proving that a leg can change the game. He appeared in seven Pro Bowls and was an important piece of three Super Bowl-winning teams, averaging 42.4 yards per punt attempt for his career.
Special teamers like Ray Guy usually only draw attention when they make mistakes. Great offensive linemen like former Seattle Seahawks left tackle Walter Jones are rarely noticed at all.
Drafted in the first round by the Seahawks in 1997, Jones played his entire 12-year career in Seattle. He was named to nine Pro Bowls and made eight consecutive All-Star appearances from 2001 to 2008. Jones made life much easier for Matt Hasselbeck as he led Seattle to Super Bowl XL.
NFL writer Ross Tucker tweeted during the Hall of Fame inductions, "Walter Jones was best OL I saw on film during my career & it wasn't real close."
Franchise pass-protectors are few and far between, but Jones is among the best of all time and easily one of the top players at his position in the modern football era.
If you didn't follow the National Football League over the early part of the past decade, you probably only recognize Michael Strahan as a national morning media personality.
If your knowledge of football stretches a little further back, you probably know that Strahan was a 15-year veteran of the New York Giants.
Strahan also became a record-setter in 2001, when he recorded an all-time single-season best 22.5 sacks. He recorded 141.5 during his playing career, proving that Strahan is one of the greatest modern pass-rushers in league history.
The Giants took home the Lombardi Trophy following the 2007 season, thanks in no small part to Strahan's efforts. Super Bowl XLII was Strahan's final NFL game.
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