Pro Football Hall of Fame: Manning cuts off Charles Woodson emotionally to end the weekend

CANTON, Ohio – The 2021 Pro Football Hall of Fame class, led by three players in their first year of eligibility, wrapped up the hall’s biggest fortification weekend on Sunday night at Tom Benson Stadium.

Seven members of the class stood on the podium during the evening, including Peyton Manning, Calvin Johnson and Charles Woodson – all three were selected in their first year of eligibility. It was the ninth year in a row that at least one former player was locked into his first year of eligibility.

The celebration came on the heels of Inauguration ceremony on Saturday, with Troy Polamalu, Edgerrin James, and former Dallas Cowboys Coach Jimmy Johnson.

Here are some of the highlights from the seven newest Hall of Famers speaking in order of appearance from Podium Sunday, as well as social media and congratulatory messages from their former rivals, teammates, and loved ones:

Sunday speaker

Drew Pearson, Wide Receiver (Dallas Cowboys, 1973-1983)



Former Cowboys wide receiver Drew Pearson thanks Roger Staubach for spending time together in Dallas.

The resume: As a former college quarterback making the Cowboys as an undrafted rookie wide receiver, he was the only first-team selection of the 1970s All-Decade team that was not anchored in the Hall of Fame. As with many senior finalists, his career had to be viewed in the context of his era as his 58 catches in 1976 and 870 yards in 1977 led the league. As a three-time all-pro, he averaged at least 17 yards per catch in five seasons, including four of his first five years in the league.

He said it: “I had the biggest Afro in NFL history [pointed to bust]. … That confirms it, the wait is over, over. The original # 88 is presented for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. … Guess what, strong hearts just keep going and that’s why I’m here on the steps of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. … It was a journey, a tough, long journey on the less traveled road. … I did it my way and I did it the hard way. … let me show you those legs, these legs made it into the Pro Football Hall of Fame [pulled up trouser legs for crowd]. “

Tom Flores (Oakland / Los Angeles Raiders 1979-87; Seattle Seahawks 1992-94)

The resume: As a player, assistant coach and head coach in professional football, Flores has four Super Bowl rings and an AFL championship to thank. Flores and Hall of Famer Mike Ditka are the only people in NFL history to have won the Super Bowl as a player, assistant coach, and head coach. His time with the Raiders included two Super Bowl wins and an 8-3 postseason record for a win rate of 0.727, which puts him only behind Vince Lombardi.

He said it: “The reason I’m here, and the reason I’m second on the program tonight, is because I’m 84 years old, have to go to bed at 9:00 am. Where’s my pillow? … Our first house had dirty floors and no indoor installations. … [In 1960] We were just a bunch of guys with no home stadium and most of them didn’t know where Oakland was, I had to tell them. … That got me on this stage tonight, passion. … your passion carries you in professional football. … Today we are all in one team at this stage, a team of gold jackets. “

Peyton Manning, quarterback (Indianapolis Colts, 1998-2011; Denver Broncos, 2012-15)



Peyton Manning gives a Hall of Fame speech for the ages while cracking some jokes and contemplating the soccer game.

The resume: Manning, one of the league’s most decorated players, was a five-time MVP, 14-time Pro Bowl selection, seven-time All-Pro first-team selection, and won two Super Bowls. At the time of his retirement, he held NFL records for passing touchdowns (539), yards (71,940) and quarterback starts won by his team (186, tied with Brett Favre). His single-season records of 5,477 passing yards and 55 touchdowns, which he set with the Broncos in 2013, are still standing.

He said it: “Tonight’s speech is the ultimate rush, rush. … Ray [Lewis] has just given his speech and in 2018 he started. … I think it’s pretty cool to be on the same team as Johnny Unitas and Slingin ‘Sammy Baugh. … Papa, there is no one I would like to introduce here better or more appropriately. … With Jim Irsay and the Indianapolis Colts, my gratitude to you is not on the charts. … To Pat Bowlen, the Bowlen Family and the Denver Broncos Organization, you risked me at a crucial time in my life and I will never forget … The future of this game is in our hands, we just have have to take tomorrow on our shoulders as easily as we put on our pads for games. … God bless you and God bless football. “

John Lynch, Security (Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 1993-2003; Denver Broncos, 2004-07)



Former privateer and Broncos safety, John Lynch tells the story of how coach Bill Walsh instilled in him the confidence to become a Hall of Fame player.

The resume: That San Francisco 49ersGeneral Manager was nine-time Pro Bowl selection as a player, two-time All-Pro first-team selection, and a Super Bowl winner. A highly touted baseball contender who was once a second-round pick for the Marlins, he has become one of the NFL’s finest collaterals. He has had eight 80 tackle seasons, including 84 tackles in 2006 by the age of 35 and three with over 100 tackles.

He said it: “What a humiliating honor. … Nothing about my Hall of Fame trip was easy. I’ve waited eight years and then [Hall of Fame president] David Baker tells me I’m following Peyton Manning, thank you David. … One day I got a call from the late, great Bill Walsh and he said, ‘John, I watched our defensive last year and you were our best defensive player, you can be a Pro Bowl Safety.’ … Herm [Edwards], You were also the first person to tell me that one day I could have a bust in Canton, but only if I believe it. … In football we quickly find out that we are only as strong as our weakest link. … Each of us comes from a different area of ​​life, but when we crowd together, we come together as a team. “

Calvin Johnson, Wide Receiver (Detroit Lions, 2007-15)



Former Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson talks about the pain he has suffered during his NFL career and how it motivated him to make the most of every moment.

The resume: As a six-time Pro Bowl selection, Johnson topped the league twice when receiving yards, and in 2012 he came up to 36 yards to become the first receiver in NFL history to end 2,000 yards in one season. He’s had six different starting quarterbacks in his nine-year career and caught a touchdown pass from seven different quarterbacks. In the nine years he played, he led the NFL when he got yards (11,619), got TDs (83), got yards per game (86.1), 100 yard games (46), 200 – Yard games (five) and games with multiple receiving TDs (17).

He said it: “I’m trying to keep my emotions under control here so that you can all relax. … As many of you know, I am not one of many words, but I try to make my words count. … The pain began to demand my body and my quality of life. … But I agreed because I left everything on the field and enjoyed every moment. … there are so many people in pain right now, I want to speak to you for a moment, I want you to know that I am seeing you … Lions fans and the city of Detroit when we were 0- When you were 16 years old you never stopped showing up. You loved me and my family unconditionally. … This one [pointed to bust], that is a good thing.”

Alan Faneca, Security Guard (Pittsburgh Steelers, 1998-2007; New York Jets, 2008-09; Arizona Cardinals, 2010)

The resume: Faneca was so athletic and versatile that his string of all-pro first-team selections was only interrupted because the team needed him as a left tackle for much of the 2003 season. As a nine-time Pro Bowl selection and six-time all-pro of the first team, he is one of 12 guards in the history of the league who were six or more times all-pro of the first team – the other 11 were already anchored in the canton. His teams were in the top 5 of the league six times in his 13 seasons and led the league twice.

He said it: “Perhaps the best word is just gratitude. … I’ve always said and talked to myself that epilepsy is a part of me, but it doesn’t define me. We are responsible for our fate. … Be resilient. We. We everyone gets down in life, it depends on how we get up. … Without my teammates, all of you, I wouldn’t be up here tonight. … My beautiful wife Julie, you are my champion. “

Charles Woodson, Cornerback / Security (Oakland Raiders, 1998-2005, 2013-15; Green Bay Packer, 2006-12)

The resume: Woodson was a nine-time Pro Bowl selection and was both Defensive Rookie of the Year (1998) and Defensive Player of the Year (2009) in his career. Woodson became the first player in NFL history to have at least 50 interceptions and 20 sacks. His 65 interceptions in his career are the fifth of all time. He led the league in interceptions with nine in 2009 at the age of 33 and reached the top of the table in 2011 with seven at the age of 35.

He said it: “Look no further than my mom to find out where I got it. … I watched her every day as a child get up and work her fingers to the bone to make sure she was looking after our family … Do you hear people say a woman can’t raise a man, I call cops — … [To his children] You will understand why grown men here stand up and cry. … love your mother as I love mine. … Anyone who’s a fan of the way I played football gets up too. … Stand on, don’t sit down, get up, we did this together, me and you. … When I say: “If I go in, we all go in”, I mean that from the bottom of my heart Hearts. … Build your legend, thank you, we’re in the Hall of Fame, baby. “

A member of Class 2021 was honored posthumously, with his bust revealed on stage and a video tribute playing on the stadium’s video panels:

Bill Nunn, Boy Scout / Human Resources Manager (Pittsburgh Steelers, 1970-2014)

The resume: Nunn began his career with the Steelers as a part-time scout while working for the Pittsburgh Courier, where he was sports editor and then senior editor. He was the first evaluator in league history to show an NFL franchise the long-term value of scouting players at historically black colleges and universities. The Steelers’ 1974 design alone, and Nunn’s role in it, was likely more than enough to get him into the Hall of Fame. In this design, the Steelers selected four future Hall of Famers – Lynn Swann, John Stallworth, Jack Lambert, and Mike Webster. Then they signed a fifth future Hall of Famer – Safety Donnie Shell – as an undrafted rookie. In total, the Steelers designed eleven future Hall of Famers during Nunn’s tenure, and Shell finished 12th.

Great of 2021 photos, videos and more

Read more about these NFL legends

Peyton Manning QB’ing changed forever
Inside Calvin Johnson‘s 329 yard game
Troy Polamalu‘s bond with Bill Cowher
Edgerrin James‘Legacy bound by HBCU
J. Johnson: ‘How about you cowboys?’
Charles Woodson‘s legendary path in the NFL
Winston Hill, Joe Namath’s friendship
Get to know this year’s HOF classes
Videos: Check out these HOF moments

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