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“Heroes of the Game” earn their time in the limelight



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For the National Football League, this Saturday couldn’t have come soon enough.

After a season that saw the league toe an unfamiliar line between politics and social unrest, the NFL will embrace one of its yearly traditions: Hall of Fame weekend. This year, the class of 2018 will see eight players and contributors enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame: Bobby Beathard, Robert Brazile, Brian Dawkins, Jerry Kramer, Ray Lewis, Randy Moss, Terrell Owens, and Brian Urlacher.

Owens will not be present at the enshirement in Canton, however, he will be sent his coat. Owens instead will be celebrating his Hall of Fame induction at the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga.

Before they officially become inducted on Saturday, The Ball Out will break down these “Heroes of the Game” and why they were deemed worthy of being immortalized.

1) Bobby Beathard: In a 33-year career that saw him work for five different teams, Beathard was among the most successful general managers the NFL has ever seen. As the director of player personnel for the Miami Dolphins, Beathard was instrumental in the Dolphins’ two Super Bowl championships (1973, 1974). After joining the Washington Redskins in 1978, the team became an instant contender, making five playoff appearances in a six-year span at one point, winning two Super Bowls. When he joined the San Diego Chargers in 1990, he built them into a feared team as well, as he is responsible for the team’s lone Super Bowl appearance in 1994. Overall in his career, Beathard’s teams won four of the seven Super Bowls they appeared in.

2) Robert Brazile: The 6’4″, 271 lb. linebacker known as “Dr. Doom” was an integral part in leading the Houston Oilers back to prominence in the late 1970’s. Known for his durability and toughness, Brazile once held the team record for most consecutive games played (147). In his career, Brazile won Defensive Rookie of the Year (1975), was named to the Pro Bowl seven times, amassed 13 interceptions and 14 fumble recoveries, and was also named to the NFL All-Decade team during the 1970’s. Unofficially, Brazile finished with 48 sacks (sacks didn’t become an official stat until 1982, so he had 11 official), and finished his career with 1,281 tackles, second in Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans history.

3) Brian Dawkins: Despite being drafted in the second round (1996, Philadelphia Eagles – 61st pick), Dawkins proved that he was among the best safeties of all time. His career saw him net nine Pro Bowl selections, five first-team All-Pro nods, and set the record for most games played in an Eagles jersey. A safety who was known to be everywhere on the field at the same time, Dawkins averaged nearly 100 tackles a season in his 15-year career (three with the Denver Broncos). He also was the first player in NFL history to record a sack, interception, fumble recovery and touchdown catch in the same game (Sept. 29, 2002 – Eagles vs. Houston Texans). Dawkins finished his career with 37 interceptions and 26 sacks.

4) Jerry Kramer: It’s safe to say that without Kramer, the Green Bay Packers never become one of the league’s most legendary teams. A fourth-round selection out of the University of Idaho, Kramer was not only the team’s anchor of the offensive line, he was a pretty good placekicker as well, totaling 177 career points. Kramer was part of a Packers team that won five NFL championships and the first two Super Bowls, and for his efforts he was named to the NFL’s 50th Anniversary team, All-Decade team of the 1960’s and the Super Bowl Silver Anniversary team.

5) Ray Lewis: Between Lewis and Urlacher, it’s difficult to define which had a greater impact on their team. Though if you look at their resumes side by side, Lewis was the clear winner. As one of the first draft picks in Baltimore Ravens history, the 17-year veteran definitely left his mark: Among his accolades: 12 Pro Bowls, eight All-Pro selections, second player in league history to win Defensive Player of the Year and Super Bowl MVP in the same season (2000), team record of 20 fumble recoveries and the first player EVER to accomplish 40 sacks and 30 interceptions (41.5 sacks, 31 INT’s). Did we mention that Lewis finished his career with a Ravens-record 2,643 tackles?

6) Randy Moss: If there was a ball anywhere on the field, you could bet good money that Moss was going to find his way to it. Drafted initially by the Minnesota Vikings in 1998, Moss shocked the league his rookie year, catching 69 passes for 1,313 yards and a league-leading 17 touchdowns. That insane performance led to him winning Offensive Rookie of the Year, and he didn’t stop there. In 2002 and 2003, Moss eclipsed the 100-catch plateau, then in 2007 set the NFL record for most touchdown catches in a season (23) as a member of the New England Patriots. Overall, Moss finished with a staggering 982 catches, 15,292 yards and 156 touchdowns; Moss also is only one of two players in history to eclipse the 1,000-yard receiving mark ten times

7) Terrell Owens: Owens may as well be the second-most controversial figure the NFL has ever seen, but there is no doubt that as a player, he was among the best. In his 16-year career, Owens finished with the second-most yards (15,934), third in touchdown receptions (153) and 1,078 catches. Owens was selected to six Pro Bowls (four-time All-Pro), had eight seasons with double-digit touchdown receptions, and had 60 or more catches in all but three seasons. However, it might be Owens’ heart that is the primary factor in his induction: while with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2004, he suited up for Super Bowl XXXIX with a broken leg, and STILL had nine receptions for 122 yards.

8) Brian Urlacher: For the first 12 years of the 21st century, Urlacher was the face of the Chicago Bears’ defensive line. After being drafted in 2000 from the University of New Mexico, Urlacher wasted little time in striking fear into the hearts of NFL offenses, finishing his rookie year with eight sacks and two interceptions to win Defensive Rookie of the Year. For the next decade plus, Urlacher continued to show why he was among the best in the league, retiring as the Bears’ leading tackler, as well as amassing 41.5 sacks, 22 interceptions and eight Pro Bowl selections.

The Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will start at 7 p.m. Eastern time, and will be televised by ESPN and the NFL Network.


Chris Bullock
Chris Bullock
Before joining The Ball Out, Chris Bullock was part of SB Nation's Swish Appeal for nearly three years, covering everything women's basketball. Chris has had the honor of doing live coverage of the WNBA Finals, the NCAA Tournament, and also was given his own column, "The Triple Double". A self-described "foodaholic", Chris lives in the San Diego area with his wife and two daughters, and also hosts his own podcast, "Conscious Cravings", where he speaks about his experience as a mental health advocate.

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