It was Prime Time yesterday in Canton as Deion Sanders led the 2011 Pro Football Hall of Fame with his gold shoes and gold jacket. Sanders wasn’t the only one given the honor – Shannon Sharpe, Richard Dent, Chris Hanburger, Les Richter and the founder of NFL films Ed Sabol, but he was certainly the best player of the bunch and the man to give the most memorable speech and appearance.
Speaking mostly of greatness and the importance of having the right kind of dream, Sanders’ electrifying presence, same as on the football pitch or the baseball grounds, did enough to dull the realization of a half full Fawcett Stadium. He wasn’t nicknamed “Neon Deion” for naught.
Sanders is arguably, or maybe there’s nothing to argue, the best cornerback in NFL history. An 8 time Pro Bowler, Sanders had two stints in the NFL – first between 1989 – 2000, and another two season comeback in 2004. He’s still the all time leader with 19 non-offensive Touchdowns. He recorded 53 career interceptions, 23rd all time. Like most great cornerbacks, no one even threw his way during his prime. Don’t forget, the two time Super Bowl champion spent his spare time playing Major League Baseball.
Shannon Sharpe – Sharpe played 14 years in the NFL, mostly for the Denver Broncos. He is only the sixth Tight End to be honored with the Hall of Fame induction. He was the first tight end to amass over 10,000 receiving yards, and held many records for tight ends until Tony Gonzalez came along. Sharpe is known for his creative tongue and trash talking, but even he couldn’t surpass Deion during last night. Sharpe was an 8 time Pro Bowler and a three time Super Bowl champion.
Richard Dent – The Defensive End spent 15 years in the NFL, mostly with the Chicago Bears, winning Super Bowl XX and the game’s MVP that year. He added a second ring playing for the 49ers after the 2004 season. He is a member of the 100 sacks club with 137.5, sixth all time and one of only 25 player to get 100. He was also a four time Pro Bowler.
Chris Hanburger – A linebacker for the Washington Redskins from 1965 to 1978, selected to nine Pro Bowls, Hanburger was one of the finest linebackers of his era and known for clothesline tackles, earning him the nickname “The Hangman“.
Les Richter – Sanders wasn’t the only versatile player inducted to the Hall of Fame. Richter, who passed away just over a year ago, played as a Guard, Linebacker and kicker. He was picked by the defunct New York Yanks in the 1952 NFL draft, but the team folded before the season began and his rights were traded to the Dallas Texans. He was traded to the Rams, LA at the time, for what was the biggest trade ever back then, with the Rams acquiring him by sending 11 players to Dallas. He was an 8 time Pro Bowler, playing nine seasons in the league.
Marshall Faulk –
Probably the greatest dual threat running back in NFL history, Marshall Faulk (played 1994-2005 for Colts and Rams) is one of three NFL Players with 10,000 rushing yards and 5000 receiving yards and the only one with 12,000 and 6,000. He is also the only player with more than 70 rushing TD’s and 30 from passes.
He won the league’s MVP award in 2000 and had four consecutive seasons with over 2000 yards in scrimmage. He led the league in rushing touchdowns once, in 2000, with 18, and twice in all manners of scoring including 26 in 2000.