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Meet the Pro Football Hall of Fame class of 2022

The Pro Football Hall of Fame will inaugurate its Class of 2022 on Saturday, with eight new honorees joining the illustrious group.

The class includes offensive tackle Tony Boselli, wide receiver Cliff Branch, official Art McNally, linebacker Sam Mills, defenseman Richard Seymour, coach Dick Vermeil and defenseman Bryant Young. The ceremony will air at 12 p.m. ET on NFL Network and ESPN. the athlete also follows the event live.

Here is more about each of the initiates:

Tony Bosselli

Tom Coughlin knew exactly who he would pick with the first draft pick in Jacksonville Jaguars history in the spring of 1995, but by the time the team was 2nd on the clock, he was still waiting most of the allotted 15 minutes, just for any Hearing trade offers trying to convince them not to go against Tony Boselli on the Southern Cal offense.

“We sat there for about 10 minutes with our picks just seeing if anyone would come, whoever might be interested, not that we didn’t have our player. We had our player,” Coughlin said. “I had told him to keep calm, that he would be our choice, and he did. He sat there looking at the clock and wondering, ‘What the hell are they doing now?’ He was our type. When we took him away, when we picked Tony and flew him in, the first thing he said when he walked into the design room was, ‘Why did it take you so long?'”

Some 27 years later, the same question arises, as in his sixth year as a Pro Football Hall of Fame finalist, a patient named Boselli is inducted into Canton as the first player in Jaguars history. Read more here

cliff branch

Clifford Branch is a symbol of speed.

The banner that hung in the stadiums the Raiders called home in the 1970s and 1980s said so much.

“SPEED KILL #21”

What Branch could also be symbolic of is player development. In the game’s history, there is no better example of a player going from raw to refined.

He started out as a rock-hard rookie wide receiver, a proverbial “track guy”. He became a three-time All-Pro, whom Raiders owner Al Davis described to NFL writer Rick Gosselin as “one of our greatest players — maybe our greatest, certainly our most valuable.” Read more here

Le Roy Butler

For all the incredible things LeRoy Butler has done during what is officially set to become a career in the Pro Football Hall of Fame after his induction on Saturday – redefining the safety position, forcing opposing offensive coordinators to draft game plans that put him at every Consider the game who invented “Lambeau Leap” — perhaps one of his least known but still important accomplishments is what he did for fellow quarterback Brett Favre.

Because for all the swashbuckling moments Favre delivered during his own Hall of Famer career, his ability to play fearlessly and take risks – often against coach Mike Holmgren’s orders – could be attributed in part to Butler and the Packers defense .

While Favre orchestrated the offense, Butler steered the defense from his strong security position while delivering the perfect lead, leading the devout Secretary of Defense Reggie White’s yang in the dressing room.

“Without LeRoy Butler, we don’t win nearly as many football games as we do – or have the success that we did – without LeRoy Butler,” Favre said. Read more here

Art McNally

McNally, 97, will make history as the first field official to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, although his induction has more to do with his overall work than his time on the field. The office of referee is an integral part of football, but an official’s merit can be difficult to quantify or qualify for Hall. A player has statistics. A coach has a record. An owner has organizational achievements. McNally’s entry is based on the reputation he’s built in the league over decades. When McNally got the call to say he was a finalist, he was told that “integrity” was the word that came up during his candidacy.

“He… embodies integrity and credibility,” said Walt Anderson, the NFL’s senior vice president of officiating. “Often stands so much for upholding, protecting and preserving the integrity of the game and I don’t think anyone embodies that more than Art McNally.” Read more here

Sam Mills

Mills started in 13 games in 1986 and helped form the vaunted “Dome Patrol” linebacking corps with eventual Hall of Famer Rickey Jackson, eventual Defensive Player of the Year Pat Swilling, and four-time Pro Bowler Johnson, also a USFL graduate. Mills earned four trips to the Pro Bowl and two second-team All-Pro pitches from 1986 to 1994 in New Orleans.

“We played the Rams in New Orleans. Eric Dickerson, you know how he runs up through the hole for a running back?” said Bobby Hebert, the former Saints quarterback. “Well, he didn’t even see Sam coming. He’s getting out of hand. Sam came out of nowhere and punched him in the jaw. Eric said it was the hardest punch he’s ever taken.

At 36, Mills finished third in the Defensive Player of the Year poll after posting a total of 110 tackles, 4.5 sacks and five interceptions. A season later, at age 37, Mills earned first-team All-Pro honors and finished fourth in Defensive Player of the Year picks, finishing with a total of 122 tackles and 5.5 sacks.

“He’s a hero for two teams in the NFC South,” said Hebert. “That’s incredible.” Read more here

Richard Seymour

“The right team drafted me,” said Seymour, who was drafted by the Patriots in the first round of the 2000 NFL draft. “I had the right coaches, the right group of players. There are certain things that happen in your life that are out of your control, but you are grateful and blessed that they happen.”

And Seymour has to be given credit for being selfless enough to take on the role of mediator. He constantly used a bevy of blockers to clear rush lanes for the Patriots’ talented linebackers, but it came at the cost of his sack totals, which of course increases his personal spotlight.

“He made my job easier,” said Hall of Famer Ty Law, Seymour’s teammate and close friend. “He would have made my job a lot easier than if they just let him go get the quarterback, but that just wasn’t his responsibility. He helped the guys next to him and Tedy Bruschi a lot more than me. I wanted him to charge the quarterback to get the ball out quicker.” Read more here

Dick Vermeil

As someone who has always admired his fellow coaches, Vermeil savored the day in 1983 when Sid Gillman, his former assistant quarterback with the Philadelphia Eagles, was inducted into the Hall of Fame as one of the original innovators of the forward pass. In 1993, Vermeil watched as Bill Walsh, the legendary San Francisco 49ers coach and someone he worked with early in his career at Stanford, was anchored. Vermeil made sure to salute Bill Parcells when the famous coach, who won two Super Bowls with the New York Giants, was a member of the Class of 2013 Hall of Fame.

Saturday is Vermeil’s 12th visit to the hall – and the first to see him applauded by his peers for his memorable contributions to the sport, his first day as one of the hall’s newest inductees.

“I never really imagined sitting next to (Parcells) on that stage,” Vermeil said last month. “It’s a really overwhelming experience for me. The closer I get to the day, the more I realize what’s going on. It’s very exciting, very humbling. I’m an emotional guy. If I really think about it, I start crying. That’s me.” Read more here

Bryant Young

On December 7, 2018, former Chicago Bears center Olin Kreutz posted side-by photos of Young and Aaron Donald, the Los Angeles Rams’ modern-day wrecking ball, with the caption, “Bryant Young is the guy Donald reminds me of .”

It hardly went viral. Six retweets, 114 likes more than three years later. But look at these answers. Former Seahawks lineman Robbie Tobeck, who faced Bryant 16 times, chimed in: “Great comparison. BY still can’t cope! Great player for a long time. Should be a HOFer in my opinion.”

“100%,” added Matt Hasselbeck, former Seahawks quarterback.

“The guy definitely gave me seizures,” added Hall of Fame Guardian Steve Hutchinson.

Years later, when Kirk Reynolds, a former media relations director for the 49ers, was looking for a way to raise Young’s profile with voters, someone pointed him to this tweet. Reynolds immediately recognized the power of such a chorus. While it’s common for ex-teammates to bang the drum for an inductee’s Hall of Fame case, receiving such emphatic and spontaneous support across enemy lines effectively ended the debate.

“Here we go,” Reynolds recalled. “These guys can talk, so BY doesn’t have to.” Read more here

(Photo: Kirby Lee / USA Today)

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