Ever wondered why the Hall of Fame is in the middle of Ohio? Three good reasons: First, the American Professional Football Association, later renamed the National Football League, was founded in Canton on Sept. 17, 1920. Second, the Canton Bulldogs were an early pro football power, even before the days of the NFL. They were also the first two-time champion of the NFL in 1922-23. The great Jim Thorpe, the first big-name athlete to play pro football, played his first pro football with the Bulldogs, starting in 1915. Third, in the 1960s, Canton citizens launched a determined and well-organized campaign to earn the site designation for their city.
Two-sport Hall of Famers
Occasionally we're blessed by an athlete who excels at two professional sports. Deion Sanders, Bo Jackson and Jim Thorpe are three who have played baseball and football at the highest level -- but none of them can claim what Cal Hubbard can. Hubbard, who played tackle for the Giants, Packers and Pirates from 1927-36, is the only person enshrined in both the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the National Baseball Hall of Fame, earning induction in the latter for his time as an umpire.
All seven players inducted into the Hall of Fame this year are from different states, with Florida (Brooks), Georgia (Guy), Tennessee (Humphrey), Alabama (Jones), Texas (Strahan), Louisiana (Williams) and Pennsylvania (Reed) represented. Reed is the 30th player born in Pennsylvania to be enshrined in Canton, the most of any state in the US.
Is Jared Allen a Hall of Famer? His 128.5 career sacks, most in the NFL since 2004, might indicate he's on his way. How about Julius Peppers (118.5 sacks) or Ndamukong Suh (27.5 sacks in 4-year career)? History says no to all three. Why? It's in their numbers! There are only five uniform numbers that have never been worn by a Pro Football Hall of Famer: 43, 69, 90, 94 and 97. Sorry -- that means no DeMarcus Ware (117 sacks) or Troy Polamalu (4-time AP 1st-team All Pro) either, as Ware wears number 94 and Polamalu wears number 43. Peppers and Suh don 90 and Allen 69 on their jerseys.
Hall of Fame finalists
Since 1970, when the Hall of Fame selection process began cutting down to a group of finalists, a total of 270 players, coaches, and contributors have made it that far in the process. The vast majority (228) ultimately were elected. That means 84.4% of all finalists eventually are enshrined into the Hall, so Tim Brown (5-time finalist), Jerome Bettis (4-time) and Charles Haley (5-time) -- the odds are in your favor!
Hall of Famers by age
Jonathan Ogden is the youngest living member enshrined in Canton (39). He was not the youngest to be inducted, however. In 1977, Gale Sayers cemented his place in football lore when he was inducted at the age of 34 -- the youngest ever. The oldest living member? NFL Films' Ed Sabol, who is 97.
There are only two tandems of Hall of Famers inducted in the same class who played together in college and were drafted into the NFL the same year. Russ Grimm and Rickey Jackson were both enshrined in 2010 after being drafted in 1981 out of Pittsburgh. The other pair is Gino Marchetti and Ollie Matson, who entered the Hall together in 1972, 20 years after being drafted out of the University of San Francisco in 1952.
The selection of a senior nominee, known as the old-timer candidate until 1990, was added to the process in 1972. In 1990, Hall of Famer Bob St. Clair, who played tackle for the 49ers from 1953-63, semi-seriously said he didn't like being called an "old-timer." The Hall reacted to his complaint and the term was changed to "senior."
This will be the eighth straight year in which no quarterback is enshrined; no quarterback has been inducted since Troy Aikman and Warren Moon were named to the Class of 2006, one year after two other signal-callers, Dan Marino and Steve Young, were inducted. This is the longest span without a QB being inducted since the Pro Football Hall of Fame opened in 1963. Perhaps Kurt Warner can end the drought in 2015.
Hall of Fame draft class
The last team to have drafted more than one Hall of Famer in the same draft was Pittsburgh, which selected Lynn Swann (No. 21), Jack Lambert (2nd round), John Stallworth (4th) and Mike Webster (5th) in 1974. However, two teams will be able to make that claim thanks to the Class of 2014: Warren Sapp (No. 12) and Derrick Brooks (No. 28) were both chosen by Tampa Bay in the first round of the 1995 NFL Draft, and Bruce Smith (No. 1) and Andre Reed (No. 86) were both chosen by Buffalo in the 1985 NFL Draft. The Steelers, Bills and Buccaneers are the only three franchises to select multiple HOFers in the same draft class.
More Photo Essays:
- Ranking the biggest collapses in NFL history
- 2017 NFL Draft prospects who could run for president one day
- Notable current NFL players who weren't invited to the combine
- 2017 Combine participants: Michigan
- 2017 Combine participants: Ohio State
- 2017 Combine participants: Clemson
- 2017 Combine participants: USC
- 2017 Combine participants: LSU
- 2017 Combine participants: Alabama