A look at those elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame today:
6-foot-7, 324 pounds
Southern California. Jacksonville Jaguars, 1995-2001. 7 seasons, 91 games.
Selected by the expansion Jacksonville Jaguars as the second player overall in 1995 NFL Draft … Regarded as the elite left tackle in the NFL during his seven-year career … He was the leader of a Jaguars team that reached the AFC Championship Game in just the franchise’s second season … That year marked the first of four straight playoff appearances as Jacksonville posted regular season records of 9-7, 11-5, 11-5 and 14-2 from 1996-99 … Boselli was tabbed as the team’s Most Valuable Player in 1998 … Voted to five straight Pro Bowls (1997-2001), named First-Team All-Pro three consecutive seasons (1997-99) … He was selected to the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 1990s.
5-foot-11, 170 pounds
Colorado. Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders 1972-85. 14 seasons, 182 games.
Selected in the fourth round of the 1972 NFL Draft by the Oakland Raiders … Not only was Branch a standout on the football team at Colorado, but he was also a world-class sprinter who set an NCAA championship meet record with a 10-second 100-meter dash in 1972 … His breakout year came in 1974, when he led the League with 1,092 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns. His next season surpassing 1,000 receiving yards came in 1976 (1,111) … Branch’s career stats include 501 catches for 8,685 yards and 67 touchdowns … He led the Raiders in receiving yards six times (1974-76, 1979-1980, 1982) and in touchdown receptions five times (1974-77, 1982) … When he retired following the 1985 season, he held several Raiders team records, among them the longest reception (99 yards from Jim Plunkett at Washington on Oct. 2, 1983) and most games (22) with 100 or more receiving yards … Branch helped lead the team to three Super Bowl appearances XI, XV and XVIII all victories … In 22 playoff games, he caught 73 passes for 1,289 yards (17.7 average) both NFL records at the time of his retirement … In his career, Branch received first-team All-Pro nods three times (1974-76) and was voted to four Pro Bowls (1975-77, 1978).
6-foot, 197 pounds
Florida State. Green Bay Packers 1990-2001. 12 seasons, 181 games.
Drafted in the second round (48th overall) in the 1990 NFL Draft by the Green Bay Packers where he spent his entire career … He led the Packers in interceptions five times (1990-91, 1993, 1995, 1997) … Guided the Packers’ resurgence that included seven playoff appearances, three straight division titles (1995-97) and two Super Bowl appearances … Started at strong safety in three consecutive NFC Championship Games and Super Bowls XXXI and XXXII making seven tackles and one sack in the Packers’ 35-21 victory over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XXXI … In 2001, he retired with 20.5 career sacks, 38 interceptions for 533 yards he intercepted a pass in all but one season … Butler was selected to four Pro Bowls (1994, 1997, 1998, 1999), earned All-Pro honors four times (1993, 1996, 1997, 1998) and was named to the All-Decade Team of the 1990s.
Art McNally served as an NFL official for nine years (Field Judge, 1959; Referee 1960-67) before he was hired as the NFL’s Supervisor of Officials in 1968 … Installed the first formal film study program for training and evaluation of football officials in professional sports … Developed standards for the scouting, screening, hiring and grading of the crews that work each NFL game … He is credited with bringing technology to NFL officiating and introduced the highest level of training for the officials by using video and practice techniques that NFL teams used with players … The training and officiating mechanics developed by McNally filtered down the entire profession of football officiating and remains the gold standard for how officials conduct themselves … Known as the “Father of Instant Replay,” McNally introduced the system to the NFL … Through his leadership, instant replay has become an accepted part of the game and has spread to all major sports in America … In 2002, commissioner Paul Tagliabue created the annual Art McNally Award, which honors an NFL game official who exhibits exemplary professionalism, leadership and commitment to sportsmanship on and off the field … McNally was a teacher and coach in the Philadelphia School District for 18 years before joining the league office in 1968 … At that point, he had officiated more than 3,000 football, baseball and basketball games. He also officiated one year in the NBA.
5-foot-9, 229 pounds
Montclair State. New Orleans Saints 1986-94, Carolina Panthers 1995-97. 12 seasons, 181 games.
Undrafted despite earning Division II All-American honors at Montclair (N.J.) State, where he still holds the team record for career tackles 40 years after graduating … In 1983, Mills joined the Philadelphia Stars of the United States Football League … In the league’s three seasons, Mills made 592 tackles, earning All-USFL honors three times and helping the Stars win back-to-back championships in 1984 and 1985 under Coach Jim Mora … New Orleans hired Jim Mora in 1985 who brought his middle linebacker with him, launching a 12-year NFL career that saw Mills total more than 1,300 tackles, 20.5 sacks, 11 interceptions and 22 forced fumbles … He was named to five Pro Bowls and once as first team All-Pro … After nine years in New Orleans, Mills jumped to the expansion Carolina Panthers … In his three seasons with the Panthers, Mills started all 48 regular-season games and both games in the 1996 postseason, when the upstart second-year team reached the NFC Championship Game … Following his playing career, Mills stayed with Carolina as an assistant coach. In his fifth season, 2003, he was diagnosed with cancer and given three months to live. As the Panthers prepared for the playoffs, he delivered an emotional speech, telling the team: “When I found out I had cancer, there were two things I could do: quit or keep pounding. I’m a fighter. I kept pounding. You’re fighters, too. Keep pounding!” Mills would live 17 months longer than doctors predicted, dying in April 2005 at age 45. Banging a huge “Keep Pounding” drum remains a tradition at Panthers games.
6-foot-6, 317 pounds
Georgia. New England Patriots 2001-08, Oakland Raiders 2009-12. 12 seasons, 164 games.
The New England Patriots selected All-American lineman Richard Seymour in the first round (sixth overall) of the 2001 NFL Draft … Seymour was a versatile player who spent time as both a defensive end and defensive tackle. He was feared by quarterbacks throughout the league as he recorded three or more sacks every year of his career except one … Seymour was named to the NFL All-Rookie Team in 2001 and was an integral member of a New England team that earned the franchise’s first world championship … The win was the first of three championship teams Seymour played on as he also helped the Patriots to Super Bowl XXXVIII and XXXIX wins … Seymour spent his first eight seasons with the Patriots (2001-08) before he was traded to the Oakland Raiders in 2009 where he remained for the final four years through his retirement after the 2012 season … Recorded 57.5 sacks and his team’s record when he recorded a sack was an astonishing 46-8-0 … He amassed a total of 496 tackles (324 solo), intercepted two passes, and forced four fumbles … A seven-time Pro Bowler, Seymour was named First-Team All-Pro three straight times … Named to the NFL All-Decade Team of the 2000s, Patriots 50th Anniversary Team and the Patriots All-2000s Team.
Philadelphia Eagles 1976-82, St. Louis Rams 1997-99, Kansas City Chiefs 2001-05. 15 seasons, 240 games.
Dick Vermeil was head coach of three National Football League franchises across 15 seasons … He mastered the three-year turnaround, leading the Philadelphia Eagles, St. Louis Rams and Kansas City Chiefs to the postseason after years nearly two decades for the Eagles … Vermeil’s climb to an NFL played out in his native California from high school coach to junior college coach to four years (1965-68) as an assistant at Stanford … In 1969, Vermeil became the first designated special teams coach as a member of Hall of Famer George Allen’s staff with the Los Angeles Rams … He then spent the 1970 season as an assistant at UCLA before returning to the Rams as an assistant (1971-73) … UCLA offered Vermeil its head coaching job in 1974 … In two seasons, he posted a 15-5-3 record that ended in an upset of Ohio State in the 1976 Rose Bowl, denying the Buckeyes a national championship … Hired by Philadelphia in 1976 … By Year 3 (1978), the Eagles made the playoffs their first postseason appearance since winning the 1960 NFL Championship Game … Two seasons later, the Eagles won the NFC title and reached Super Bowl XV … Resigned after the strike-affected 1982 season, citing “burnout.” He spent the next 14 seasons as an NFL and college football analyst for CBS and ABC … The St. Louis Rams hired Vermeil back to the sidelines in 1997 … He took over a team that had not posted a winning record in seven seasons. By Year 3, the Rams went 13-3 and won Super Bowl XXXIV with “The Greatest Show on Turf.” He won the AP’s Coach of the Year Award … Vermeil retired 11 days after that victory and stayed out of the league for one season … He returned to coach the Chiefs, and in Year 3 ended the franchise’s five-year playoff drought with a 13-3 record … Vermeil finished his NFL coaching career with a 126-114 record, including 6-5 in the playoffs.
6-foot-3, 291 pounds
Notre Dame. San Francisco 49ers 1994-2007. 14 seasons, 208 games.
Selected with the seventh overall pick of the 1994 NFL Draft … His impact was immediate: six sacks in 16 starts and a spot on the NFL All-Rookie Team … By 1996, he had blossomed into a dominant force at defensive tackle, turning in his best season statistically: 84 tackles, four passes defensed, two safeties and 11.5 sacks … Earned first-team All-Pro honors and the first of his four Pro Bowl nods … He also received the team’s Len Eshmont Award, given annually since 1957 for “inspirational and courageous play.” Considered the 49ers’ most prestigious honor, Bryant won the award eight times (1996, 1998-2000 and 2004-07) … No other member of the 49ers has won it more than twice … In 12 games for the 1998 season, he had registered 9.5 sacks best in the league among defensive tackles along with eight tackles for loss and two forced fumbles, but a devastating leg injury ended his season … Bryant returned to action by the 1999 season opener and recorded 11 sacks and 19 tackles for loss on his way to winning the Comeback Player of the Year Award from both the AP and PFWA … For his career, Bryant totaled 89.5 sacks and three safeties. He was named to the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 1990s.