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Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2011 goes back in time

Football's Hall of Fame Game, which was scheduled for Sunday, has been canceled this season because of the NFL lockout, but the main show will go on. On Saturday, the 2011 class of the Pro Football Hall of Fame will be inducted. Here's a quick look at the seven members who will be inducted Saturday.

Richard Dent, DE

Bears (1983-93, 1995), 49ers (1994), Colts (1996), Eagles (1997)

A quarterback's worst nightmare. One of the most intimidating pass rushers the game has ever seen. In 15 seasons, he had 137½ sacks, which placed him third on the all-time list at the time of his retirement. A key cog in one of the most ferocious defenses of all-time, Dent helped the 1985 Bears to the Super Bowl with a league-leading 17 sacks. That came a year after he recorded an NFL-high 17½ sacks. It was all part of a 10-year string that saw him rack up at least 10 sacks a year eight times. He was a four-time Pro Bowl player, as well as a four-time first- or second-team All-Pro. He was the most frightening member of the Bears' scary defense.

Marshall Faulk, RB

Colts (1994-98), Rams (1999-2005)

At times during Faulk's 12-season career, you could make the argument that he was the best player in football. Let's start in 1999, well after he was an NFL rookie of the year. In his first season with the Rams, he became just the second player in NFL history to surpass 1,000 yards in both rushing and receiving, and his 2,429 total yards were an NFL record. That was the first of three straight seasons of being named NFL offensive player of the year. He was the 2000 NFL MVP when he set a league record with 26 touchdowns, including a league-leading 18 rushing touchdowns. He was first-team All-Pro three times and a seven-time Pro Bowl player. When he retired, he ranked ninth all-time in rushing and 16th in receptions. His 19,154 total yards from scrimmage rank sixth all-time.

Chris Hanburger, LB

Redskins (1965-78)

Hanburger was one of the those guys you had to watch game-in and game-out to truly appreciate, and it was surprising, though pleasantly so, to see him elected to the Hall. The Redskins took him in the 18th round (245 overall) in the 1965 draft, and he was a part of the nucleus that helped George Allen's "Over The Hill Gang'' reach the Super Bowl in the 1972 season. That magical season, Hanburger, who always had a knack for the big play, tied for the team lead in interceptions (four) and was outstanding in the postseason. He had seven touchdowns in his career, including three off fumbles, which was an NFL record at the time of his retirement.

Les Richter, LB/K

Rams (1954-62)

Perhaps the most interesting player and person in this Hall class. The Rams traded 11 players for him, the second-largest trade ever for one player. After football, Richter became the head of operations for NASCAR and president of the Riverside International Raceway. But Richter, who died last year, is making the Hall off his football merits. In nine seasons, he made the Pro Bowl eight times. Aside from being a devastating linebacker, he occasionally played on the offensive line and was the Rams kicker, leading the team in scoring twice and interceptions once. Despite his punishing style and heavy workload, he never missed a game in his 112-game career.

Ed Sabol, filmmaker

President of NFL Films (1964-95)

A case could be made that Sabol is one of the most influential figures in NFL history and as responsible as anyone for helping the game evolve into this country's most popular sport. He was 45 and running a small film company when he won the rights to film the 1962 NFL Championship Game for a mere $3,000. Using slow-motion replays, odd camera angles, up-close sound and orchestral music, he turned NFL games into dramatic plays and NFL Films was born. Anyone who grew up in the 1960s and 1970s followed the league through his highlight shows, such as NFL Game of the Week and This Week in Pro Football and, everyone's favorite, the Football Follies series. Today, Sabol's company, run by son Steve, still has a heavy hand in the league, helping produce such shows as HBO's Hard Knocks and Showtime's Inside the NFL.

Deion Sanders, CB/PR

Falcons (1989-93), 49ers (1994), Cowboys (1995-99), Redskins (2000), Ravens (2004-05)

Always known for his flashy style, Neon Deion had plenty of substance, too. He goes down as one of the best big-play producers the game has ever seen, starting with his first game when he returned a punt 68 yards for a touchdown. In his career, Sanders picked off 53 passes, taking nine to the house. In addition, he had six touchdowns on punt returns and three on kickoff returns. He made the 1990s All-Decade Team at both cornerback and punt returner, was elected to eight Pro Bowls and was the 1994 NFL defensive player of the year. Last year, ranked him as the 34th greatest NFL player ever. The Fort Myers native and Florida State product also managed to work in 641 major-league baseball games over nine seasons. Is he the greatest athlete of our time?

Shannon Sharpe, TE

Broncos (1990-99, 2002-03), Ravens (2000-01)

When Sharpe retired, some considered him to be the greatest tight end ever. As a receiver, he had no equal in his day. His 815 receptions, 10,060 yards and 62 touchdowns were all records for a tight end at the time. His 214-yard receiving game against the Chiefs in 2002 is still an NFL record for tight ends, and his 13 receptions in a 1993 playoff game tied an NFL postseason record. He was first- or second-team All-Pro five times and made eight Pro Bowls. And he was a winner, helping the Broncos win two Super Bowls and the Ravens one.


Television coverage

NFL Network will air special Hall of Fame coverage all day Saturday with features on the latest inductees and a pre-induction show that begins at 4 p.m. The official enshrinement ceremony begins at 7 p.m. with a post-show at 10.

Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2011 goes back in time 08/04/11 [Last modified: Friday, August 5, 2011 6:52pm]
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