NEW ORLEANS – Offensive linemen Larry Allen and Jonathan Ogden and defensive tackle Warren Sapp highlighted the list of seven elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
All three were first-time candidates, tying the record for total first-time enshrinees, and they were joined by former head coach Bill Parcells, wide receiver Cris Carter and senior candidates Curly Culp and Dave Robinson.
They will be inducted into the Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, on Aug. 3.
“It’s tremendous,” Parcells said via phone to the NFL Network. “It’s unbelievable. It’s exhilarating.”
Parcells is the only coach in NFL history to take four teams to the postseason.
Allen, who played with the Cowboys during their three Super Bowl wins in the 1990s, was the first player announced on NFL Network’s live show. The intimidating 350-pounder broke down and cried. Allen plans to ask Cowboys owner Jerry Jones to present him in Canton because he was a father figure to the small-school product.
“My goal as a player was to make the guy quit — tap out,” Allen said.
Carter was a finalist for the sixth time, and the emotion toll of the near misses was on display in his unbridled joy and relief Saturday.
“I’m sorry,” Carter said, ineffectively trying to hold back his emotion. “But this is the happiest day of my life.”
The forty-four voters on the Pro Football Hall of Fame Selection Committee gathered
at 8 a.m. Saturday and discussed the 15 modern era finalists announced in January for roughly eight hours. The Dallas Morning News’ Rick Gosselin said that Parcells was discussed for 55 minutes, while several other candidates were discussed for more than a half-hour each in a highly competitive class.
“That the writers would think, that if the story of fooball was going to be told that it couldn’t be told without Cris Carter — that’s the greatest compliment you can ever give,” Carter said.
The popular and loquacious Sapp had 96.5 career sacks and was a driving force in leading a turnaround of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ franchise for coaches Tony Dungy and Jon Gruden.
“I am thrilled for Warren Sapp, the engine of the Bucs’ 4-3 defense,” Gruden said in a statement. “He was the most dominant inside presence I’ve been around.”
Sapp said he played for the respect of his teammates and peers.
“I called Deion (Sanders), Marshall (Faulk) and Michael (Irvin) and not one of them answered,” Sapp said of the torture of awaiting the verdict from the Selection Committee. “They said they wanted me to go through the process.”
Ogden is the first player from the Baltimore Ravens’ franchise to enter the Hall of Fame. Ogden was the first player ever drafted by the Ravens after the team moved from Cleveland. The 11-time Pro Bowl pick was a member of the Super Bowl XXXV winning team.
“It’s such a nerve-racking thing just waiting for,” Ogden said, adding that he spent the day watching golf.The 6-9, 330-pounder said his Hall of Fame jacket size will be “large, size long.”
“It would have been really great if Art (Modell) would’ve got in. … With the Ravens here in New Orleans, me being the original draft pick of the Ravens, I just want to thank the city of Baltimore.”
It takes 80 percent of the committee’s final vote to make the Hall of Fame.
The first five to be trimmed in the cut to 10 names were wide receiver Tim Brown, defensive end Kevin Greene, guard Will Shields and former owners Eddie DeBartolo and Art Modell. All had been finalists previously.
Running back Jerome Bettis, defensive end Charles Haley, wide receiver Andre Reed, defensive end Michael Strahan and defensive back Aeneas Williams were trimmed in the reduction to the final five.
“A lot of really good, deserving guys didn’t get in on the first ballot,” Ogden said.
Parcells received widespread congratulations. Giants president John Mara issued a statement.
“I’m very happy for Bill. This is long overdue,” Mara said. “He’s one of the best coaches in NFL history. He turned our franchise around. We went through a long period in the 1960s and 70s when we were a laughing stock. When Bill took over in 1983 he survived a very difficult first year, but then turned us into a perennial playoff contender and won two Super Bowls for us. He coached three other teams and everywhere he went, he had great success. I’m very happy that he will be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.”
The Pro Football Hall of Fame Selection Committee’s five 2013 inductees for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, with their positions, teams and years active follow in alphabetical order (*=Senior candidate):
—Larry Allen, Guard/Tackle: 1994-2005 Dallas Cowboys; 2006-07, San Francisco 49ers.
In Allen’s 14 seasons, he played 203 games, was named first-team All-Pro seven straight years, first-team All-NFC six times. The second-round pick in 1994 moved to tackle late in 1997 and entire 1998 season, and earned All-Pro honors at position. He played every position on offensive line except center during 12 seasons with Dallas before signing with the 49ers as a free agent in 1996. Allen was elected to 11 Pro Bowls and named to NFL All-Decade Teams of 1990s and 2000s.
—Cris Carter, Wide Receiver: 1987-89 Philadelphia Eagles; 1990-2001, Minnesota Vikings; 2002, Miami Dolphins
Carter played 234 games and his first career catch, a 22-yard touchdown, was a sign of what was to come. A durable receiver, he played a full 16-game season in 13 of his 16 seasons. In 2000, became only the second player in NFL history to catch 1,000 career passes. Recorded 1,000 receiving yards in a season eight straight years. Carter broke the 100-yard receiving plateau 42 times during his career and was second on the NFL’s all-time list for total receptions (1,101) and receiving touchdowns (130) at retirement. His 130 TD receptions came from 13 different passers. Was first- or second-team All-Pro 1994, 1995, and 1999. Selected to play in eight Pro Bowls (1994-2001)
—Curley Culp*, defensive lineman: 1968-1974, Kansas City Chiefs; 1974-1980 Houston Oilers; 1980-81, Detroit Lions
As a 6-2, 265-pound defensive tackle, Culp made six Pro Bowls and was a second-team All-Pro four times. He was drafted by the Broncos, who tried to move him to the offensive side of the ball before trading him to the Chiefs. He was traded to Houston in a blockbuster deal and led the team to back-to-back AFC title games.
—Jonathan Ogden, Tackle: 1996-2007, Baltimore Ravens
Ogden was named to 11 Pro Bowls and was the leader of offensive line that helped Ravens amass more than 5,000 yards of offense in back-to-back seasons, 1996-97. He was noted as strong pass protector as well as effective run blocker at 6-9, 325 pounds. He started at left tackle in the Ravens’ 16-3 win over Oakland Raiders in 2000 AFC Championship Game and 34-7 victory over New York Giants in Super Bowl XXXV. The NFL Alumni’s NFL Offensive Lineman of the Year in 2002, Ogden was named All-Pro in 1997, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2006
—Bill Parcells, Coach: 1983-1990, New York Giants; 1993-96, New England Patriots; 1997-99, New York Jets; 2003-06, Dallas Cowboys
The nomadic Parcells reversed the fortunes of four NFL teams in his 19 seasons as head coach. After a 3-12-1 season (1983), he took Giants to playoffs twice and in 1986 led the team to 14-2 record and defeated Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXI. The Giants won the East in 1989 and in 1990 won a second world championship with a dramatic victory over Buffalo Bills in Super Bowl XXV. He left coaching for two years, returning in 1993 with the New England Patriots. The Patriots were back in the playoffs after two years following the franchise’s seven-year absence and two years later won Super Bowl XXXI. In 1997, Parcells took over a 1-15 New York Jets team and led them to 9-7 record in 1997, 12-4 record and AFC championship game in 1998 for the best two-year turnaround of a 1-15 team in NFL history. He coached the Dallas Cowboys from 2003 until 2006. Parcells became first coach to coach four different teams into the playoffs when his 10-6 Cowboys played in the 2003 Wild Card Game. He was NFL Coach of the Year in 1986 and 1994.
—Dave Robinson*, linebacker: 1963-1972, Green Bay Packers; 1973-74, Washington Redskins
Signed with Green Bay and quickly built his reputation as a big-play threat on Vince Lombardi’s dynasty. Started at left outside linebacker in three straight NFL championship wins in 1965-67. A starting outside linebacker in Packers victories in Super Bowls I and II. He returned from Achilles tendon injury in 1970 to regain form as one of game’s finest linebackers. Robinson Intercepted 27 passes which he returned for 449 yards in career. He was first-team All-NFL selection three straight seasons, 1967-69, was elected to three Pro Bowls and named to the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 1960s.
—Warren Sapp, Defensive Tackle: 1995-2003, Tampa Bay Buccaneers; 2004-07, Oakland Raiders
Sapp was a defining defensive tackle in the renowned “Tampa Two” defense. He amassed 96.5 career sacks and recorded double-digit sack totals four times. He ad more than one sack in a game 23 times, was the 1999 NFL Defensive Player of the Year, when he registered 12.5 sacks, 54 tackles, three forced fumbles, and recovered two fumbles (1999). Was a first-team All-Pro four times (1999-2002), second-team All-NFL in 1997, 1998.
Although they have been nominees in previous years, this is the first time the two senior nominees, Culp and Robinson, have been finalists. Culp has been eligible for 27 years, Robinson 34 years.
The 15 modern-era finalists were determined by a vote of the Hall’s Selection Committee from a list of 127 nominees that earlier was reduced to a list of 27 semifinalists, during the multi-step, year-long selection process. Culp and Robinson were selected as senior candidates by the Hall of Fame’s Seniors Committee. The Seniors Committee reviews the qualifications of those players whose careers took place more than 25 years ago.
To be elected, a finalist must receive a minimum positive vote of 80 percent.