Every Super Bowl Saturday, the Pro Football Hall of Fame announces the latest group of former players and executives elected to Canton. This year, the Hall welcomes eight new members: linebacker Junior Seau, running back Jerome Bettis, defensive end Charles Haley, receiver Tim Brown, guard Will Shields, center Mick Tingelhoff, general manager Bill Polian, and executive Ron Wolf.
The announcement was made at the NFL Honors awards ceremony Saturday night, while the enshrinement ceremony will be held in August.
While we wait for these guys to be officially called Hall of Famers, let's look back at the careers that earned them a place amongst the sport's all-time greats:
Junior Seau, LB, San Diego Chargers (1990-2002), Miami Dolphins (2003-2005), New England Patriots (2006-2009)
Junior Seau was one of the best defensive players of his or any generation. In his 20-year career, he was named to 12 Pro Bowls, was a two-time AFC Defensive Player of the Year, and was named to the NFL's 1990's All-Decade Team. He retired with 1,849 tackles, 56.5 sacks, 18 interceptions, and 12 forced fumbles. The numbers might not have etched Seau's name into the record books, but his leadership on the field guided his team to two Super Bowls — in 1994 with the Chargers and 2007 with the Patriots — and his high-octane style of play made him the face of the game in the mid-'90s.
Jerome Bettis, RB, LA/St. Louis Rams (1993-1995), Pittsburgh Steelers (1996-2005)
After beginning his career with the Rams, Jerome Bettis pulled into Pittsburgh — a city that loves big, rumbling running backs — and became the Steelers' leader on the field and off. The Bus was a six-time Pro Bowler and helped get Pittsburgh to Super Bowl XL. And after the team won, he called it a career. He retired as the NFL's fifth-leading rusher of all time with 13,662 yards. (He has since fallen to sixth all-time.) He also caught 200 receptions for 1,449 and found the end zone 94 times.
Charles Haley, DE, San Francisco 49ers (1986-1991, 1998-1999), Dallas Cowboys (1992-1996)
When Charles Haley retired, he had been named to five Pro Bowls and was a member of the 100 Sacks Club (he had 100.5). But the more important factoid: He won five Super Bowls — two with the 49ers and three with the Cowboys. He's the only player in NFL history who can say he played on five Super Bowl-winning teams.
Tim Brown, WR, LA/Oakland Raiders (1983-2003), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2004)
In his 21-year career as a wide receiver, Tim Brown made nine Pro Bowls and one Super Bowl (2002). And like Seau, he was a member of the NFL's 1990s All-Decade Team. His 1,094 receptions was good for third-all time when he retired (he's now fifth on that list), and his 14,934 receiving yards is currently good for sixth all-time. (He's tied for seventh all-time on the career touchdowns list with 100.) But even before carving up defenses, Brown made a name for himself in college: He won the 1987 Heisman Trophy while playing for Notre Dame.
Will Shields, G, Kansas City Chiefs (1993-2006)
In his 14-year career, Will Shields never missed one game. He played a total of 224 contests with the Chiefs and started in 223 of them. Just as impressive: his 12 Pro Bowl selections. Shields was also named to the NFL's 2000s All-Decade Team.
Mick Tingelhoff, C, Minnesota Vikings (1962-1978)
Voted in by the seniors committee, Mick Tingelhoff was under center for some great Vikings teams. He played in four Super Bowls (1969, 1973, 1974, 1976), but won only the first. He also played in 240 games in his career — and started all of them. He was named to six Pro Bowls and has his number 53 retired by the Vikings.
Bill Polian and Ron Wolf enter the Hall as executives. Polian worked for four NFL teams in his career, starting as a scout with the Chiefs in 1978, joining the Bills as Pro Personnel Director in 1984 after some time in the USFL before becoming Buffalo's GM in 1986. Polian was with the Bills until 1992, then was hired as the Panthers' GM in 1995. He served in that post until 1997, and in 1998 he signed on with the Colts as GM and, eventually, Team President.
Wolf, likewise, worked with numerous teams, starting with Oakland. He was a scout with the Raiders from 1963 through 1975, when they were the LA Raiders. He went east in 1975 to be part of the expansion Buccaneers organization, but when the team went 0-26 in its first 26 games Wolf was fired. He rejoined the Raiders in 1978, staying with the club until 1990. From there, he helped rebuild the Green Bay Packers into a perennial contender, then worked with Chargers and Jets.
Photos: Rick Stewart/Getty Images (Bettis), Jim McIsaac/Getty Images (Seau), Getty Images North America (Haley), Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images (Brown), Tim Umphrey/Getty Images (Shields), Getty Images (Tingelhoff)
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