Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2011 Finalists Capsules
A burly 5-11, 243-pound running back from Notre Dame, Bettis started off with a bang, winning Rookie of the Year honors for the Los Angeles Rams in 1993 and went out on top, helping the Pittsburgh Steelers win their first Super Bowl in 16 years in 2005 in his hometown of Detroit. In between, Bettis posted eight seasons with 1,000 rushing yards. He ranks fifth all-time with 13,362 yards. Bettis made All-Pro twice and was chosen for six Pro Bowls.
Another Golden Domer, the 6-foot, 195-pound 1987 Heisman Trophy winner also burst into the NFL in a big way, leading the league in kickoff return yards and yards per return for the then-Los Angeles Raiders for whom he played 16 of his 17 seasons. When the two-time All-Pro and nine-time Pro Bowl pick retired after the 2004 season, he ranked second all-time with 14,934 receiving yards, third with 1,094 catches and 100 touchdown catches and fifth with 19,682 combined yards..
Unlike Bettis and Brown, Carter never got to show his stuff in a Super Bowl, but after a tough start in Philadelphia, the former Ohio State standout starred for the Minnesota Vikings for 12 seasons. When the 6-3, 202-pound prototype big receiver retired after the 2002 season, he was second only to Jerry Rice in catches (1,101) and receiving touchdowns (130). A member of the All-1990s team, Carter was a two-time All-Pro and an eight-time Pro Bowl selection.
Pittsburgh's second-round choice in the 1988 draft out of Kentucky, Dawson began his career at right guard before replacing Hall of Famer Mike Webster at center in 1989. Extremely agile for his position, the 6-2, 288-pound Dawson started 170 consecutive games while helping the Steelers win five AFC Central titles and a conference championship. Dawson, the only interior offensive lineman on the ballot, was All-Pro from 1993-98 and a Pro Bowl pick from 1993-99.
Chicago's eighth-round choice in 1983 out of Tennessee State, Dent rocketed to Super Bowl MVP in just his third season, one in which he led the league with 17 sacks and was a critical piece of one of the most feared defenses in NFL history. The 6-5, 265-pound defensive end twice recorded 4½ sacks in a game and he averaged 13½ sacks for the Bears from 1985-93. When Dent retired after the 1997 season, he ranked third all-time with 137½ sacks.
Drafted by Minnesota out of Pitt with the fourth pick in 1985, the 6-5, 270-pound Doleman moved to defensive end later in his second season. Beginning in 1987, Doleman averaged just over 11 sacks over his final 13 seasons while being chosen for eight Pro Bowls with the Vikings (six), Atlanta (one) and San Francisco (one). The first-time finalist missed just two games during his career and was fourth all-time with 150½ sacks when he retired after the 1999 season.
The Rookie of the Year with Indianapolis in 1994, the former San Diego State star running back really took his combination of running and receiving skills to the next level after his 1999 trade to St. Louis. The 5-10, 205-pound Faulk was All-Pro the next three years, winning MVP acclaim in 2000 and helping the Rams win two NFC titles and Super Bowl XXXIV. Newly eligible for election to Canton, Faulk was ninth all-time in rushing and sixth in yards from scrimmage when he retired.
Haley wasn't intimidated coming into the league as a fourth-round choice out of Division I-AA James Madison. Instead it was the 6-5, 242-pound hybrid defensive end/linebacker who did the intimidating. He led the 49ers as a rookie in 1986 with 12 sacks, the first of his six seasons with at least 10 sacks. The only player to win five Super Bowl rings (two with San Francisco and three with Dallas), Haley was chosen NFC Defensive Player of the Year twice and made five Pro Bowls.
Washington's 18th-round pick out of North Carolina in 1965, Hanburger was listed at 6-2 and 218 pounds, but he barely topped 200 by the end of each of his 14 seasons with the Redskins. But being undersized didn't stop the wily linebacker from being chosen All-Pro three times and being selected to a franchise-record nine Pro Bowls. The Seniors Committee nominee, a first-time finalist, helped the Redskins finish at least .500 in 10 of his seasons with five playoff berths.
Despite playing on mostly woeful Seattle teams, Kennedy was chosen for eight Pro Bowls after being the third pick overall in 1990 out of Miami (Fla.). The 6-3, 298-pound defensive tackle was at his best in the third of his 11 seasons, recording 14 sacks and a career-high 92 tackles despite usually being double- or triple-teamed. Kennedy was voted Defensive Player of the Year although the Seahawks were just 2-14.
The 5-11, 207-pound running back was drafted in the third round by New England out of Pitt in 1995. Martin led the AFC with 1,487 yards and 14 touchdowns as a rookie and he matched those touchdowns the next year in leading the Patriots to the Super Bowl. He won the NFL rushing title with 1,697 yards at age 31 for the New York Jets. One of just two backs to start his career with 10 seasons with 1,000 yards, the newly eligible nominee is fourth all-time with 14,101 yards.
Buffalo's fourth-rounder out of tiny Kutztown (Pa.) in 1985, the 6-2, 190-pound Reed not only was pivotal in turning the forlorn Bills into AFC champions four years running, he teamed with Hall of Famers Jim Kelly and Thurman Thomas to form one of the most dangerous receiver/quarterback.running back trios in NFL history. Reed's 951 catches ranked third all-time when he retired in 2001. Reed was chosen for seven straight Pro Bowls and produced 13,095 receiving yards.
The only man ever traded for 11 fellow players, Richter joined the Los Angeles Rams in 1954 in that deal which followed two years of military service. The 6-3, 238-pound linebacker from California was a Pro Bowl pick during each of his first eight seasons while also handling the placekicking duties during the early years of his nine-year career. The Seniors Committee nominee and first-time finalist never missed a game despite playing with a broken cheekbone in 1961.
The first offensive lineman chosen in the 1993 draft, Roaf didn't disappoint during his nine seasons with New Orleans and four with Kansas City. An All-Rookie choice at right tackle, the 6-5, 300-pound Roaf switched to left tackle in 1994 and made the first of his three All-Pro teams. Very athletic for such a big man, Roaf was selected for 11 Pro Bowls, the last during his final season, 2005, when he was35. Roaf started in the first playoff victory in Saints history in 2000.
Sabol was selling overcoats in Philadelphia when he decided to try to turn his film-making hobby into a career at 45 in 1962. He offered $3,000, twice the going rate, to the NFL to make a film about that year's championship game. The success of that production led to the birth of NFL Films two years later. The company won 52 Emmy Awards through the time of his 1995 retirement and revolutionized how sports were shown on TV. Nominated as a contributor, Sabol is a first-time finalist.
The fifth player chosen in 1989 out of Florida State, the 6-1, 195-pound Sanders returned a punt 68 yards for a touchdown his debut and never stopped making flashy plays. The six-time All-Pro and eight-time Pro Bowl cornerback returned nine of his 53 interceptions for touchdowns and equaled those touchdowns as a return man. The 1994 Defensive Player of the Year, "Prime-Time" won Super Bowls with San Francisco that year and with Dallas in 1995. A newly eligible nominee.
A three-time All-American at lightly-regarded Savannah State, Sharpe was chosen in the seventh round by Denver in 1990. By his fourth year, the 6-2, 230-pound tight end made All-Pro, the first of four such selections. An eight-time Pro Bowl pick, Sharpe helped the Broncos win Super Bowls in 1997 and 1998 and Baltimore do the same in 2000. When he retired in 2004, the ever-vocal Sharpe led all tight ends with 815 catches, 10,060 yards and 62 touchdowns.