The NFL preseason officially kicked off yesterday with the annual Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio. The New York Giants defeated the Buffalo Bills, 17-13, but the real action came off the field. The Pro Football Hall of Fame enshrined seven new members Saturday, led by former Giants defensive great Michael Strahan. The rest of the 2014 Hall of Fame class included Andre Reed, Derrick Brooks, Walter Jones, Aeneas Williams, Ray Guy, and Claude Humphrey – had their faces enshrined in bronze and were finally awarded their gold jacket, officially entering the Pro Football Hall of Fame this past weekend.
Michael Strahan — Defensive End, New York Giants (1993-2007)
Five-time All-NFC, seven-time Pro Bowler, five-time All-Pro
Before Strahan was a popular TV show host, he was every quarterback’s nightmare. He was selected by the Giants in the 2nd round of the 1993 Draft, and went on to have a 15-year career in the league. Strahan recorded 141.5 career sacks and had 38 multi-sack games in his pro career. He set the NFL single-season sack record in 2001 with 22.5 sacks, and was unanimously named the 2001 Defensive Player of the Year. After suffering a torn pectoral muscle in 2004, Strahan came back the following season and started every game, recording 11.5 sacks. Strahan was the starting left tackle in two NFC Championship game wins and two Super Bowls. Strahan was selected as a member of the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 2000s.
Andre Reed — Receiver, Buffalo Bills (1985-1999), Washington Redskins (2000)
Four Time All-AFC, three-time All-NFL (second team), seven-time Pro Bowler
Before the Bills had Sammy Watkins, they were fortunate enough to have Andre Reed. Reed was a tremendous receiver for Buffalo and Washington in 16 NFL seasons. After he was chosen 86th overall by the Bills in the 1985 NFL Draft, Reed went on to set multiple franchise records that still stand today: 941 receptions, 13,095 career reception yardage, and 15 catches in a game. Reed and Bills QB Jim Kelly combined for an NFL record 663 touchdowns, which stood until Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison broke it in 2004.
Derrick Brooks — Linebacker, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1995-2008)
Eight-time All-NFC, 11-time Pro Bowler, six-time All-Pro
Brooks was born in Florida, played his college ball at Florida State, and then was drafted 28th overall by Tampa Bay in the 1995 NFL Draft. He went on to play 14 seasons – his entire career – with the Buccaneers. Brooks had an impact immediately, starting all but three games his rookie season and earning All-Rookie honors. Brooks was named the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2002, and in 1997 led the Bucs to their first postseason appearance since 1981. Brooks was critical in the Bucs’ Super Bowl XXXVII victory, intercepting a pass and returning it for a TD.
Walter Jones — Tackle, Seattle Seahawks (1997-2009)
Nine-time Pro Bowler, four-time All-Pro
After being drafted sixth overall in the first round of the 1997 NFL Draft, Jones won the starting left tackle spot during rookie training camp. By the 1999 season, Jones became the first offensive lineman in Seahawks history elected to a Pro Bowl. Jones helped Shaun Alexander – Seattle’s star running back – to earn an MVP award in 2005 and set a franchise-record 1,880 yards rushing. Jones appeared in the 2005 NFC Championship game and Super Bowl XL, and was named to the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 2000s.
Aeneas Williams — Cornerback, Phoenix/Arizona Cardinals (1991-2004), St. Louis Rams (2001-2004)
Four-time first-team All-NFC, eight-time Pro Bowler, three-time All-Pro
When Aeneas Williams finished his college career at Southern University, the Phoenix/Arizona Cardinals selected him in the third round of the 1991 NFL Draft. Before he moved to safety, Williams was a star cornerback for 12 years. He had his first career pick and four deflected passes in his NFL debut. The NFL Players Association named him NFC Defensive Rookie of the Year in 1991 after he tied for the most interceptions in the NFC (6). He recorded an interception in every season but his last and had five or more picks in a season six times. Williams recorded 55 interceptions for 807 yards total. Williams was selected to the NFL’s All-Decade team of the 1990s.
Ray Guy – Punter, Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders (1973-1986)
Seven-time All-AFC: seven-time Pro Bowler
Ray Guy was the first punter ever to be chosen in the first round of the NFL Draft when he was selected 23rd overall by the Raiders in 1973. After being an All-American and earning the honor of being the nation’s top collegiate punter in 1972 at Southern Mississippi, Guy led the NFL in punting in 1974, 1975, and 1977. He averaged 42.4 yards in 14 seasons with Los Angeles/Oakland. Guy won three championships with the Raiders — Super Bowl XI, XV, and XVIII — and was the first punter to hit the Louisiana Superdome scoreboard. Guy also served as the Raiders’ emergency quarterback.
Claude Humphrey — Defensive End, Atlanta Falcons (1968-1974, 1976-1978), Philadelphia Eagles (1979-1981)
Six-time Pro Bowler, five-time All-Pro, one-time All-NFL (second team)
Initially drafted by Atlanta in 1968, Humphrey recorded 11.5 sacks as a rookie and was named the Defensive Rookie of the Year. During his 14-season career with the Falcons and the Philadelphia Eagles, he was credited with 122 sacks. After suffering a season-ending knee injury in 1975, Humphrey rebounded in 1976 with 15 sacks and was named the team’s MVP. After a brief retirement, he was traded to the Eagles and in his first year in Philly he finished second on the team in sacks. He helped the Eagles advance to Super Bowl XV with a team-high 14.5 sacks.
Photos: Jason Miller/Getty Images, except Tony Dejak/AP Photo (Andre Reed)