Tight end Tony Gonzalez and safety Ed Reed highlight the eight-man class that earned induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday.
Gonzalez is the all-time leader in receptions and yardage among tight ends with 1,325 catches and 15,127 yards. He played for the Kansas City Chiefs (1997-2008) and Atlanta Falcons (2009-13) during a 17-year playing career.
Reed led the NFL in interceptions three times and had 64 career interceptions while playing 11 of his 12 NFL seasons with the Baltimore Ravens from 2002-12.
Reed was one of four defensive backs who will be inducted on Aug. 3 in Canton, Ohio. The others were cornerbacks Champ Bailey and Ty Law and safety Johnny Robinson.
Robinson was the seniors finalist.
Also selected for enshrinement were center Kevin Mawae, Denver Broncos owner Pat Bowlen and personnel executive Gil Brandt during a process held in Atlanta one day prior to the Super Bowl.
Gonzalez, Reed and Bailey were all inducted in their first year on the ballot.
A thrilled Gonzalez found the irony in learning of the honor in Atlanta. Just one week earlier, he thought about the possibility of the Chiefs being in town for the Super Bowl before they fell in overtime to the New England Patriots in the AFC title game.
“I figure if I was lucky enough to be first-ballot it was going to be in Atlanta,” Gonzalez told reporters. “How great would that be? When Kansas City was playing to get here, I was like, ‘Oh my God. It’s about to be Kansas City playing in Atlanta.’ I was super excited about it.”
Gonzalez was a 14-time Pro Bowl selection, and only Hall of Famer Jerry Rice (1,549) has more career receptions.
“On behalf of my family and the entire Chiefs organization, I’d like to congratulate Tony on his induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame,” Chiefs CEO Clark Hunt said in a statement. “He was the most prolific tight end in NFL history and certainly one of the best to ever wear a Chiefs uniform. In his 12 seasons in Kansas City, he revolutionized his position and his excellence on the field and his commitment to the community made him one of the most beloved players in Chiefs history.
Reed, a nine-time Pro Bowl selection, teamed with Hall of Fame linebacker Ray Lewis on some of Baltimore’s stout defenses.
“While he is probably the most unpredictable and dynamic defensive player in league history, I believe his best achievement is being a great dad,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said in a statement. “We are very proud of Ed and congratulate him on this incredible, well-deserved honor.”
Bailey was a 12-time Pro Bowl pick who racked up 52 interceptions in 15 seasons with the Washington Redskins (1999-2003) and Broncos (2004-13).
“This is home and timing was just right for it,” Bailey, who played college football at Georgia, told reporters. .”.. It hasn’t sunk in yet. It’s been a great ride.”
Law, a five-time Pro Bowl selection, intercepted 53 passes and returned seven for touchdowns during 15 seasons with the Patriots (1995-2004), New York Jets (2005, 2008), Chiefs (2006-07) and Broncos (2009).
“Ty Law was one of the premier cornerbacks in the NFL during his 15-year career and remains one of the greatest players in our franchise’s storied history,” Patriots CEO Robert Kraft said in a statement.
Robinson twice intercepted 10 passes in a season (1966, 1970) for the Chiefs. He totaled 57 interceptions in 12 seasons with the franchise.
Mawae was voted to eight Pro Bowls while dominating in the trenches for 16 seasons with the Seattle Seahawks (1994-97), Jets (1998-2005) and Tennessee Titans (2006-09).
Bowlen became owner of the Broncos in 1984, and his clubs made seven Super Bowl appearances with three titles (1997, 1998, 2015) during his tenure. The 74-year-old is currently battling Alzheimer’s disease.
Brandt’s eye for talent helped the Dallas Cowboys post 20 consecutive winning seasons (1966-85) during his tenure from 1960-88. The Cowboys won 13 division titles and two Super Bowl crowns.
The other finalists were coaches Don Coryell and Tom Flores, running back Edgerrin James, receiver Isaac Bruce, offensive linemen Tony Boselli, Alan Faneca and Steve Hutchinson, defensive end Richard Seymour and safeties Steve Atwater and John Lynch.
—Field Level Media