Warren Sapp Among New Pro Football Hall of Fame Inductees
(CNN) — The Pro Football Hall of Fame is about to get a lot bigger.
The hall’s selection committee on Saturday — meeting in New Orleans, on the eve of Super Bowl XLVII — selected six former players and one coach to join the ranks of the NFL’s best.
They were all bigger than life, literally and figuratively, in their heydays — from towering, 6-foot-9 inch Baltimore Ravens offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden to the “Big Tuna,” the moniker given to legendary and well-traveled coach Bill Parcells.
“Surreal. Speechless,” Ogden said, on his Twitter page, moments after the announcement. “Still can’t believe it.”
The original Raven — as the team’s first draft pick after it relocated from Cleveland to Baltimore — literally stands above everyone else in the Class of 2013, by virtue of his height and 345-pound frame. On the field, the UCLA grad stood out enough to be named All-Pro six times and earn Pro Bowl honors in 11 of his 12 seasons.
Another big name, and big personality, who will be joining him is Warren Sapp.
The University of Miami product terrorized linemen and quarterbacks while racking up 96.5 sacks over his 13-year career with the Oakland Raiders and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, although some better know him for his brash trash-talking, wide smile and love for the camera, including on the 2008 season of “Dancing With the Stars.”
“Warren played the game with incredible ability and passion,” Buccaneers co-chairman Bryan Glazer said of the 1999 Defensive Player of the Year and Super Bowl XXXVII champ. “He … helped to redefine the tackle position.”
Two other defensive stars will be joining Sapp in the Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.
One is another defensive tackle, Curley Culp, who made six Pro Bowls during his 14 seasons between 1968 and 1981 with the Kansas City Chiefs, Houston Oilers and Detroit Lions. Going farther back in NFL history is linebacker Dave Robinson, who amassed 27 interceptions in his career, much of it with Vince Lombardi’s great Green Bay Packer teams.
After narrowly missing out in recent years, wide receiver Cris Carter finally will make the trip to Canton — just 120 miles from where he first emerged at Ohio State University. In his 16 NFL campaigns, most of them with the Minnesota Vikings, he was consistently among the league’s top wideouts with eight straight seasons with over 1,000 receiving yards and 130 total touchdowns.
His selection stirred rejoicing among Vikings’ fans, with team owner Zygi Wilf calling the current ESPN analyst “one of the most beloved players in franchise history.”
“In terms of catching the football, I haven’t seen anybody in my time better than Cris Carter,” former Vikings assistant and Indianapolis Colts head coach Tony Dungy said, according to the Vikings’ official website.
Just over five years ago, Larry Allen was a dominating presence with the San Francisco 49ers, with whom he played after 12 seasons with the Dallas Cowboys. Now the mammoth offensive lineman — measuring in at 6 feet, 3 inches and 325 pounds — has another honor to his name as a hall of famer, in addition to having been named to the NFL’s All-Decade teams for the 1990s and 2000s.
“Larry is one of the greatest players in Cowboys history, and arguably the very best guard to ever play the game,” said Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, whom Allen has tapped to give his induction speech.
Parcells is this year’s other honoree, a man who never played in the NFL though he nonetheless became one of the league’s most recognizable names in the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s.
A graduate of Wichita State University, he was drafted in the seventh round by the Detroit Lions but opted for a carer in coaching. He took stints at several universities before jumping to the NFL. Parcells led the New York Giants to two Super Bowl titles, then took the New England Patriots to the title game in January 1997 (where they lost), before finishing up his career with stops with the New York Jets, Cowboys and Miami Dolphins.
“Bill Parcells has been thought of as one of the all-time greats for a long time, so it is with great pride that we can officially refer to him as a Hall of Famer,” said Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, who coached under Parcells with the Giants and Jets before succeeding him in New England. “He deserves all the recognition he is getting.”
The seven inductees were chosen Saturday by the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s selection committee from a list of 17 finalists — with late longtime Cleveland Browns and Ravens owner Art Modell, Pittsburgh Steelers running back Jerome Bettis and wide receiver Tim Brown among those narrowly missing the cut.
The honorees will be enshrined on August 3, in a ceremony expected to include 130 others who have been so honored over the past 50 years.
Already blown away by his name being called, Ogden said he expects the feeling will only get better when he gets to Ohio, according to a story on the Ravens’ official website.
“It will be one of the best moments of my life,” he said.
By Greg Botelho
™ & © 2013 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.