By Jeff Reynolds, The Sports Xchange
HOUSTON — Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and longtime Seattle Seahawks safety Kenny Easley were selected to the 2017 Pro Football Hall of Fame class on Saturday along with LaDainian Tomlinson, Terrell Davis, Jason Taylor, Kurt Warner and Morten Andersen.
Notably absent from the class are former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue and wide receiver Terrell Owens, who called the process “flawed” Saturday night after learning the selection committee did not vote the mercurial receiver into the Hall of Fame in his second year of eligibility.
Tagliabue was commissioner from 1989 to 2006 and has been a regular finalist. There was again broad and intense support for Tagliabue in 2017. He was one of three nominees by the seniors committee, which also added Jones and Easley to the class.
Davis played only 78 games in seven seasons with the Denver Broncos before his career was derailed by injuries. He rushed for 2,008 yards with 21 touchdowns in 1998 and won back-to-back Super Bowl titles.
Easley was a nominee of the Hall’s veterans committee for players whose careers ended at least 25 years ago. The only knock on Easley was a short career (seven years), but he was a five-time Pro Bowl player and defensive player of the year in 1984.
Jones purchased the Dallas Cowboys in 1989 and became the first owner whose team went to the Super Bowl four times in his first seven years with the franchise. Jones is widely involved in NFL ownership committees, including marketing, sponsorship, television, stadium management, labor negotiations and television.
Warner, one of only three quarterbacks to start a Super Bowl for two different franchises, was a finalist for the third time. Warner played in three Super Bowls — two with the St. Louis Rams and another with the Arizona Cardinals — and has the three highest passing yardage totals in the game’s history. The rags-to-riches story was bagging groceries and playing in the Arena Football League in Iowa before he caught on with the Rams as a free agent in 1998.
Tomlinson, the league’s No. 5 all-time rusher, made the Hall of Fame on the first ballot. The fifth overall pick in 2001 spent nine seasons with the Chargers and played two years with the New York Jets, rushing for 13,684 yards and compiling 162 total touchdowns (17 receiving). Tomlinson had a 100-catch season, a rarity for running backs, and was a four-time All-Pro.
Taylor, a three-time All-Pro who played primarily with the Miami Dolphins, is seventh on the NFL’s quarterback sacks list with 139.5. Only Julius Peppers, who is fifth with 143.5 sacks, and DeMarcus Ware — both of whom played in the NFL last season — are not in the NFL among the 10 players with the most sacks.
Andersen was a semifinalists for the fifth time. He entered the NFL in 1982 and retired in 2004 after 25 seasons. He set the record for career points (2,544), field goals (565) and game played (382). Andersen played for the Saints, Falcons, Giants, Chiefs and Vikings.
Owens, whose receiving yardage total is exceeded only by Jerry Rice, could face a bigger hurdle next year, when Randy Moss is eligible for the Hall of Fame for the first time. Owens, a finalist for the second year in a row, was such a disruptive teammate that two teams, San Francisco and Philadelphia, got rid of him at the peak of his career.
In 2018, notable first-time Hall of Fame eligible players include Moss, Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher, Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis and Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Ronde Barber.