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Super Bowl XLIII | Hall of Fame selections

Two members of Buffalo Bills highlight Pro Football Hall of Fame class

TAMPA — Two towering figures from the Bills and a man once dubbed the "World's Fastest Human" highlighted the Hall of Fame's Class of 2009 announcement Saturday, with Bills owner Ralph Wilson Jr., former defensive end Bruce Smith and late Cowboys receiver "Bullet" Bob Hayes among six inductees.

The other three whose bronze busts will grace Canton are defensive back Rod Woodson, a longtime fixture with the Steelers; guard Randall McDaniel, who starred for the Vikings; and Kansas City's nine-time Pro Bowl linebacker Derrick Thomas, who died from injuries sustained in a car accident in 2000.

Smith, the first overall pick in 1985, has the most sacks in NFL history with 200, so his selection was not unexpected. Still, he was filled with emotion at a packed news conference.

"I just had a moment," he said, pausing as he gathered himself on the podium, his voice breaking. "Just thinking about my father, all his sacrifices. … I just wish he was with me. He would be extremely proud of this day."

Smith terrorized quarterbacks from 1985-99 and was defensive player of the year in 1990 and 1996.

Perhaps the most riveting moment occurred when Lucille Hester spoke of Hayes, her brother who died in 2002 of kidney failure. Hester produced a letter Hayes wrote and signed in case he was inducted.

"I want to thank everybody who supported me to get into the NFL Hall of Fame, the Dallas Cowboys organization, all of my teammates and everyone who played for the Cowboys," the letter began.

The room was still as Hayes, who last was a finalist in 2004 and likely would not have gotten another chance, thanked those he knew from the east side Jacksonville, where he grew up, and throughout his life. "I love you all," it concluded.

Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt, son of late owner and AFL pioneer Lamar Hunt, appeared on behalf of Thomas, a Miami native who had 1261/2 sacks in 169 games over 11 seasons and holds the single-game record of seven.

Woodson thanked all of the teams he played for: the Steelers, 49ers, Ravens and Raiders. During his 17 seasons, he had 71 interceptions and 17 touchdowns and made 11 Pro Bowls.

"That's amazing to me," he said at the thought of joining the 253 players now enshrined.

McDaniel, who spoke via phone from Minnesota, was the rock of the Vikings offensive line for 12 years before finishing his career with the Bucs in 2000 and 2001.

Wilson, who formed the Bills and has been a key figure in the league, joined Smith on stage.

"It's a great honor," Wilson, 90, said. "I don't know what to say."

His accomplishments, as with the other five inductees, said it all.

The enshrinement ceremony is Aug. 8 in Canton, Ohio.

fast facts

Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2009

Bob Hayes

Position: Receiver

Career: 1965-74 Cowboys,
1975 49ers

Notable: Won gold in the 100 and 4x100 at the 1964 Olympics. … Often said the bump-and-run was developed specifically to slow him. … Four times was named first- or second-team All-NFL. … In first two seasons, had combined 110 catches for 2,235 yards and 25 touchdowns. … For career, had 371 catches for 7,414 yards and 71 touchdowns (all with Dallas). The touchdowns remain a team record.

Randall McDaniel

Position: Guard

Career: 1988-99 Vikings, 2000-01 Buccaneers

Notable: Started 202 straight games. … Blocked for six 1,000-yard rushers and five 3,000-yard passers. … Anchored line of Vikings team that scored then-record 556 points in 1998. … All-Pro nine straight times (1990-98). … Selected for record 12 straight Pro Bowls (1990-2001).

Bruce Smith

Position: Defensive end

Career: 1985-99 Bills, 2000-03 Redskins

Notable: 200 sacks and 10 or more in 13 seasons are NFL records. … In 1990, had 19, including four against the Colts over the first 20 minutes of a game. … Defensive player of the year in 1990 and 1996. … All-Decade teams of the 1980s and 1990s. … First- or second-team All-Pro 11 times. … Selected for 11 Pro Bowls (1988-91, 1993-99).

Derrick Thomas

Position: Linebacker

Career: 1989-99 Chiefs

Notable: Had 10 sacks and 75 tackles as defensive rookie of the year. … In 1990, had league-high and franchise-record 20 sacks, including a league-record seven in a game against the Seahawks. … Had league-high 1161/2 sacks during the 1990s and finished with 1261/2, fourth most among linebackers. … Had 27 multisack games. … All-Decade Team of the 1990s. … All-Pro three times.

Ralph Wilson Jr.

Position: Owner of the Bills, 1960-present

Notable: One of the original founders of the AFL. … Was AFL president and played a key role in the merger with the NFL. … Bills won AFL titles in 1964 and 1965 and reached the Super Bowl in 1990, 1991, 1992 and 1993, the only franchise to play in four in a row. … Bills' 103 regular-season wins were second most during the 1990s.

Rod Woodson

Position: Cornerback/safety

Career: 1987-96 Steelers,
1997 49ers, 1998-2001 Ravens, 2002-03 Raiders

Notable: From 1991-94, had 12 sacks and 19 interceptions. … 75th Anniversary team and All-Decade team of the 1990s. … 1993 defensive player of the year. … 71 interceptions are third all time, 12 returned for touchdowns first. … Six-time first-team All-Pro (1989-90, 1992-94, 2001). … All-Pro as cornerback, kick returner and safety.

Two members of Buffalo Bills highlight Pro Football Hall of Fame class 01/31/09 [Last modified: Sunday, February 1, 2009 8:33am]
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