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Michael Strahan, Derrick Brooks lead Hall of Fame class

NEW YORK -- The 2014 Pro Football Hall of Fame was announced Saturday at "NFL Honors," the crowning achievement in the proud careers of seven all-time greats.

Harrison: Hall of Fame reaction

Elliot Harrison-140201-PQ.jpg

Andre Reed finally got a ticket to Canton, but Charles Haley remains on the outside looking in. Elliot Harrison examines. READ

Michael Strahan, Andre Reed, Walter Jones, Derrick Brooks, Aeneas Williams, Claude Humphrey and Ray Guy are the newest football immortals headed for enshrinement in Canton. Humphrey and Guy were Veterans Committee candidates.

All seven men were on hand here at Radio City Music Hall and were greeted by incredible applause as they hit the stage. It felt like a scene out of a movie, and one that we suspect the NFL will continue at future "NFL Honors" shows. (This was the first time the Hall of Famers were announced at the show.)

Every man is more than worthy for the honor, but we are very surprised that Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Marvin Harrison did not make the list. Reed, who has waited for years for the logjam at wide receiver to break, made it over Harrison. There is no statistical argument to support that decision. Tony Dungy, Harrison's onetime coach, also was left off the list.

Jones is arguably the greatest left tackle of all-time, and he probably wasn't a difficult selection for the Hall of Fame Committee. He made the first or second-team All-Pro six times, and the Pro Bowl nine times. His agility and power were unmatched. This was his first year of eligibility.

Strahan was surprisingly not chosen for the Hall of Fame last season in his first year of eligibility, but he didn't have to wait long. The 2001 NFL Defensive Player of the Year, Strahan was also on the NFL's All-Decade team of the 2000s. He had a memorable sack of Tom Brady of Super Bowl XLII.

Reed, whose career ended in 2000, had to patiently wait for enshrinement. He led the AFC in receiving in 1989 and joined Jerry Rice as one of just two players to record 13 separate 50-catch seasons.

Derrick Brooks joins an exclusive club of players enshrined in their first year of eligibility. He was the rock of the great Tampa Bay Buccaneers' defense of the 2000's, with his leadership and intelligence helping to define the weakside linebacker position in the Tampa 2 defense. Brooks was a prototype.

Aeneas Williams was the class's biggest pleasant surprise. The longtime Arizona Cardinals defensive back was versatile, tough and had a knack for playmaking. He led the league in interceptions twice and was a first-team All Pro selection four times. We did not expect him to make it, but the cornerback/safety's toughness and longevity were rewarded.

Guy is the first punter to ever make the Hall of Fame. He was annually a contentious debate among Hall of Fame voters. Longtime Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis is smiling down somewhere.

Humphrey won the 1968 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year award and made eight different All-NFL or All-Pro teams. He played the prime of his career in Atlanta with the Falcons.

The absence of Harrison from the list above was regrettable, but Strahan learned that you sometimes have to wait a year longer than you expect. Also left off the list: Tony Dungy, Morten Anderson, Jerome Bettis, Tim Brown, Eddie DeBartolo, Kevin Greene, Charles Haley, John Lynch and Will Shields. Haley surprisingly remains out of the Hall. 

The focus Saturday night should be on the seven men chosen. They will start a seven-month process that will end in enshrinement in Canton over the summer. Their lives will never be the same. And we will hear from so many of them that this was one of the greatest days of their life.

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