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Four more head to Hall

John Elway and Barry Sanders ended their careers on top and under their own terms.

So that's the way they were remembered Saturday when they were named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame on their first attempts.

The winningest quarterback in NFL history and the league's No. 3 career rushing leader were joined by six-time Pro Bowl tackle Bob Brown and Vikings defensive lineman Carl Eller.

Induction ceremonies will be Aug. 8 in Canton, Ohio.

"I'm really kind of speechless, to be honest with you," Elway said. "I'm just truly honored to be named to the Hall of Fame with the greats of all time. I want to tell every guy I played with, "Thanks.' "

Sanders left the game in his prime. He was 31 and 1,457 yards shy of the career rushing record, then held by Walter Payton, when he abruptly retired.

"The guy would've held every record in the NFL if he hadn't retired," Elway said. "It's truly an honor to go in with a guy like Barry."

The first draft choice in 1983 _ the greatest class of quarterbacks ever _ Elway watched his teams get routed in his first three Super Bowls. But under coach Mike Shanahan, he guided the Broncos to world championships in '97 and '98, capping his career with a Super Bowl MVP trophy.

But Elway remembers how he struggled early, including in his first NFL start against the Steelers.

"I remember I was taken out at halftime. I was 1-for-8 with a pick and I wanted to click my heels together and say, "Auntie Em, bring me home. You can have your signing bonus back. I don't want to stare at Jack Lambert spitting and drooling at me anymore. What the hell have I got myself into.' So for me to be standing here today and thinking about that game, it's a miracle."

Sanders was the first to rush for 1,000 yards in his first 10 seasons and led the league in rushing four times.

"When I think about the Hall of Fame, it seems like that's something that happens to someone else," Sanders said. "You think Dick Butkus, Walter Payton, names of that light. To be here, I truly feel, in some ways a little out of place."

Brown was one of the most feared blockers of his time and played for the Eagles, Rams and Raiders. The second overall pick in the 1964 draft was considered an enormous player at the time, 6 feet 4, 280 pounds.

"I beat on people from the opening kickoff," Brown once said. "I try to take a toll on them."

Eller was a member of the Vikings' Purple People Eaters defensive line and played 16 seasons. He joins teammate Allan Page in the Hall.

Elway became emotional Saturday when he remembered his father, Jack Elway, a longtime coach and scout who died April 22, 2001.

"This is a time that one guy I do think of is my father, who is not here and passed away 2{ years ago," Elway said. "He truly is the reason I'm standing here.

"The thing I'm proudest of is that I was able to hang in there long enough and win a few Super Bowls."

HALL OF FAME STATISTICS

Elway's statistics

Regular Season

Com Att Yds TD Int

1983, Denver 123 259 1663 7 14

1984, Denver 214 380 2598 18 15

1985, Denver 327 605 3891 22 23

1986, Denver 280 504 3485 19 13

1987, Denver 224 410 3198 19 12

1988, Denver 274 496 3309 17 19

1989, Denver 223 416 3051 18 18

1990, Denver 294 502 3526 15 14

1991, Denver 242 451 3253 13 12

1992, Denver 174 316 2242 10 17

1993, Denver 348 551 4030 25 10

1994, Denver 307 494 3490 16 10

1995, Denver 316 542 3970 26 14

1996, Denver 287 466 3328 26 14

1997, Denver 280 502 3635 27 11

1998, Denver 210 356 2806 22 10

Totals 4123 7250 51475 300 226

Playoffs

Year, Team Com Att Yds TD Int

1983, Denver 10 15 123 0 1

1984, Denver 19 37 184 2 2

1986, Denver 57 107 805 3 4

1987, Denver 42 89 797 6 5

1989, Denver 42 82 732 4 3

1991, Denver 30 54 378 1 2

1993, Denver 29 47 302 3 1

1996, Denver 25 38 226 2 0

1997, Denver 56 96 726 3 2

1998, Denver 45 86 691 3 1

Totals 355 651 4964 27 21

Sanders' statistics

Regular Season

Rushing

Att Yds Avg TD

1989, Detroit 280 1470 5.3 14

1990, Detroit 255 1304 5.1 13

1991, Detroit 342 1548 4.5 16

1992, Detroit 312 1352 4.3 9

1993, Detroit 243 1115 4.6 3

1994, Detroit 331 1883 5.7 7

1995, Detroit 314 1500 4.8 11

1996, Detroit 307 1553 5.1 11

1997, Detroit 335 2053 6.1 11

1998, Detroit 343 1491 4.3 4

Totals 3062 15269 5.0 99

Receiving

No Yds Avg TD

1989, Detroit 24 282 11.8 0

1990, Detroit 36 480 13.3 3

1991, Detroit 41 307 7.5 1

1992, Detroit 29 225 7.8 1

1993, Detroit 36 205 5.7 0

1994, Detroit 44 283 6.4 1

1995, Detroit 48 398 8.3 1

1996, Detroit 24 147 6.1 0

1997, Detroit 33 305 9.2 3

1998, Detroit 37 289 7.8 0

Totals 352 2921 8.3 10

NOTE: Complete defensive statistics for six-time Pro Bowl tackle Bob Brown and Vikings defensive lineman Carl Eller, who also were voted into the Hall of Fame on Saturday, were not available.

Barry Sanders left the Detroit Lions at age 31. Had he not, he likely would be the career rushing leader.

John Elways guided the Broncos to two Super Bowl titles after what he said was a shaky start.

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