Class of 2014 took different paths to Canton and Pro Football Hall of Fame

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Pro Football Hall of Fame inductees Ray Guy (left) and Walter Jones enjoy Friday night's Gold Jacket Dinner in Canton, Ohio.  JON-MICHAEL SULLIVAN/STAFF
JON-MICHAEL SULLIVAN/STAFF
Pro Football Hall of Fame inductees Ray Guy (left) and Walter Jones enjoy Friday night's Gold Jacket Dinner in Canton, Ohio.

CANTON, Ohio — Michael Strahan is pleased to know he is scheduled to go last during the Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremonies.

That means the former New York Giants star pass-rusher won’t be the first to break down in tears once the 2014 seven-member class is inducted today.
“I am not going to be the first one to crack,” Strahan said Friday.

“But it’ll be interesting. I just told the guys, ‘It’s OK. If you’re going to cry, this is the opportunity to cry where nobody can say anything to you.’ ”
Andre Reed almost didn’t make it through Friday. The former Buffalo Bills receiver was having trouble keeping his emotions in check after meeting former teammate, quarterback Jim Kelly, who is battling cancer.

“I almost broke down and cried,” Reed said. “Three months ago, we didn’t know if (Kelly) was going to be in Canton. Yeah, my heart kind of beat a bit faster when I saw him.”

There’ll be plenty of emotions given the varied backgrounds of the inductees.

It’s a group that includes two first-time ballot selections, Tampa Bay linebacker Derrick Brooks and Seattle offensive tackle Walter Jones.

Then there’s Arizona/St. Louis defensive back Aeneas Williams and Oakland’s Ray Guy, the former Thomson star who will be the first full-time punter inducted.

And don’t forget Atlanta/Philadelphia defensive end Claude Humphrey, who waited 28 years to hear his name called.

There are plenty of eye-popping stats among a class that has a combined 55 Pro Bowl selections.

And they are all considered equals, no matter their positions.

“This is the Hall of Fame. It’s not about one player or one person and what they’ve done,” said Strahan, who set the league’s single-season record with 22 ½ sacks in 2001, “Plain and simple, you’ve got to humble yourself because everybody here has had their moment.”

Strahan had plenty in establishing himself as one of the NFL’s top pass-rushers over a 15-year career.

“I’m excited about our class, being part of history,” said Brooks who then listed the accomplishments of each and every one of his fellow inductees.

He ended with Guy, by noting the punter’s long wait to be inducted.

“To hear Ray talk about him going in, he doesn’t talk about the wait. He talks about the fact that he’s here,” Brooks said. “And that’s what I’m going to talk about, not 20 years ago, but talking about what we’re doing now.”


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