NFL honors seven new members

TIM BOOTH AP Sports Writer Published:

CANTON (AP) -- The Pro Football Hall of Fame inducted seven new members on Saturday night in Canton. The following is a capsule look at the newest class of inductees:


RENTON, Wash. -- As Walter Jones started going through names to give his induction speech at the Pro Football Hall of Fame, he constantly came back to his son Walterius.

The youngster was with him in New York during Super Bowl week when Jones found out he'd be honored in his first year of eligibility, and just the third player having spent their entire career with Seattle Seahawks to be inducted. It felt only right to have the 14-year-old give the speech.

Talk about a unique summer vacation project.

"When I asked him if he wanted to present me he was like, 'Well, there's nobody else that's going to do it,'" Jones said. "He's been with me throughout this whole process, so he was an easy answer to present me."

Regarded as one of the game's best offensive tackles ever, Jones will get his gold jacket Saturday night and add to a year that has seen the Seahawks reach the pinnacle of the NFL. The party in New York in February didn't stop with Jones being voted into the Hall of Fame on his first try. That was just the beginning. A day later, he was at MetLife Stadium to watch Seattle's 43-8 rout of Denver to claim its first championship.

It was a moment Jones was hoping to experience as a player in February 2006 when Seattle reached its only other Super Bowl, losing to Pittsburgh. A championship is about the only thing missing from Jones' extensive resume.

"When I came into the league, I wasn't thinking about, 'Man, I want to be in the Hall of Fame.' As you play the game, you watch guys. You say, 'That's the way I want to play the game of football,'" Jones said. "For me, it's all about respect. You always go back to the word 'respect.' Even guys that don't play the game of football - or just an average fan - when they watch the game of football, they can say, 'OK, I respect what Walter's doing out there.'"

Jones was deemed special when he was selected with the No. 6 overall pick of the 1997 draft coming out of Florida State. He was a unique combination of size and power, but also speed and fluidity for a man who stood at 6-foot-5 and 325 pounds.

His offseason workouts became folklore, pushing Cadillac Escalades as part of his regimen -- and usually during some sort of contract dispute. Yet he showed up for every season opener, whether he was unhappy with his contract or not.

Jones was selected to nine Pro Bowls. He was a four-time All-Pro. Mike Holmgren, who coached the Seahawks from 1999-2008, once called Jones the best offensive player he has ever coached. It's a heady statement considering Holmgren coached Joe Montana, Brett Favre, Steve Young and Jerry Rice during his career.

Jones wanted to be like Anthony Munoz. And like Munoz before him, Jones became the standard for the next generation of offensive linemen.

"I think it's a situation of setting the standard for how you want to play the game of football," Jones said. "For me, I tried to do that every time I stepped on the football field. It just validates the things you did on the football field. So when people see you now, people say, 'Oh, that's the Hall of Famer Walter Jones.' That's something that makes you say I did it the right way," Jones said. "When young kids go look at film, your name is talked about. So I think that's something that has changed.

"From Day 1 when I got in the league, I wanted to establish the standard that I set. I wanted to be a guy that when you talk about offensive linemen, I wanted my name to come up."

Seattle's coaches once put together the numbers that helped state the dominant level at which Jones played: He blocked for more than 5,500 pass plays in his career and gave up just 23 sacks and was called for holding just nine times in 180 career games -- all starts.

Jones is revered in Seattle in a way usually reserved for skill position players. It's a statue of Jones that stands outside the Seahawks-themed bar at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. His No. 71 was retired the day he retired, while Steve Largent (No. 80) and Cortez Kennedy (No. 96) had to wait for their entry to Canton before their numbers were raised.

"Getting a gold jacket and to be a part of that team, man, it's just amazing," Jones said. "Then to be a part of Seattle, it's just amazing to represent the city of Seattle, man. It's just amazing. I started there and I ended there. It's a lot of stuff that goes on."


PHOENIX -- Aeneas Williams spent most of his NFL career on bad teams.

But that didn't prevent him from pursuing excellence, becoming one of the best cornerbacks in the league and earning a spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

In his 10 seasons with Arizona, the Cardinals had one winning season.

But despite that, he either led or shared the NFL lead in interceptions three times and made six Pro Bowls. Williams never missed a game and started all but one. He had a streak of 157 consecutive starts.

And he never let the poor play around him affect his performance.

"Just refuse to become a loser even though we weren't winning a whole lot of games," Williams said.

He finally made it to the playoffs with the Cardinals in 1998, then intercepted two passes as Arizona stunned the Cowboys in Dallas in the first round.

"I really saw the makings of what the current (Cardinals) organization is experiencing now," Williams said.

But the Cardinals slipped back into their inept ways and, after a decade in the desert, Williams left to join a winner.

On draft day of 2001, the Cardinals traded him to the St. Louis Rams for draft picks.

That year, for just the second time in his career, Williams was in the playoffs.

He started at left cornerback, helping transform a woeful Rams defense, and St. Louis reached the Super Bowl, where it lost to Tom Brady and the New England Patriots 20-17.

Williams was moved to safety in the final years of his career, retiring in 2004, leaving a trail of admiration.

"Everything he did, whether it was on or off the field, he did with a tremendous amount of honesty and dignity," said Dave McGinnis, who coached Williams in Arizona.

Williams had 55 interceptions, including eight seasons with at least four. He made the Hall of Fame in his third time as a finalist.

Now a pastor in St. Louis, Williams will be introduced at the Hall of Fame induction by his father, Lawrence, whom he credits for molding him into the man he became.

"I didn't have to look outside my home for a hero," Williams said.

Growing up in a strict but loving family in New Orleans, Williams said school was more important to his parents than athletics.

He played football in high school, but didn't draw any interest from colleges. So he followed his older brother to Southern University.

As a junior, he decided to join the football team as a walk-on. The following season, he led the Southwestern Athletic Conference with seven interceptions.

Williams still remembers, and often repeats, what Southern defensive coordinator Percy Duhe told the New Orleans newspaper, that "Aeneas is a good player, but I don't think he'll ever go pro because he runs a 4.6 (second) 40-yard dash."

Williams said he joined the track team that year and worked with a fellow football player to improve his speed.

"I ran a 4.28 for scouts that spring," he said.

The then-Phoenix Cardinals picked him in the third round.

While the team lost year after year, Williams said he bears no animosity.

Quite the opposite.

"I can say my time in Arizona was fulfilling, rewarding," he said. "I'd never trade it for the world."

McGinnis, who was the defensive coordinator, then head coach, at Arizona, said every game plan would be developed around Williams.

"I pulled him aside one day and told him 'Having you play corner reminds me of having Mike Singletary at linebacker,'" McGinnis said.

Williams and Singletary are two of six Hall of Famers McGinnis has coached.

"The one common thread that they all possessed is they elevated the play of everybody around them," McGinnis said. "They had a different presence."

Williams said he was overwhelmed by the congratulations he received from former teammates and others who had been part of his football life.

"I never wanted to just be a great player on the field," he said. "I wanted people to experience joy off the field as well."

He carries with him a congratulatory note he got from Jay Zygmunt, former Rams president of football operations.

Williams read it aloud, his voice cracking a bit with emotion.

Zygmunt started by saying he had been associated with many great players in his 27 years with the Rams.

"You're at the top of that list with your incredible play," Williams read. "But your exemplary life as a man even surpasses your performance and accomplishments on the field."


OAKLAND, Calif. -- Ray Guy built a Hall of Fame career of making other people wait.

Those anxious seconds for punt returners awaiting his booming kicks were nothing compared to the more than two decades Guy had to endure before finally getting the call that he was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

The seemingly interminable wait will come to an end Saturday in Canton, Ohio, when Guy gets to put on the Hall of Fame blazer for the first time as he becomes the first true punter to get inducted into the exclusive club.

As much as Guy wanted personally to be a Hall of Famer, he also wanted it for his position, which he believed got disrespected every time he was passed over for the honor.

"That kind of bothered me because they were saying that's not a positon, it doesn't take an athlete to do that, it's not important," Guy said. "That's what really got under my skin. It wasn't so much whether I did or didn't. I wish somebody had. It was just knowing that they didn't care.

"That's what kind of frosted me a little bit."

Guy was a finalist seven times starting in 1992 without being voted in and didn't even make it that far countless others, leaving him to wonder if the call would ever come. He finally got in as a senior's nominee this year, joining placekicker Jan Stenerud as the only kickers in the Hall.

Guy is the perfect player to get the honor because he is credited with revolutionizing the position after being the only punter ever taken in the first round when Raiders owner Al Davis drafted him 23rd overall in 1973.

His kicks went so high that one that hit the Superdome scoreboard 90 feet above the field in a Pro Bowl helped put "hang time" into the football vernacular. His ability to pin the opponent deep with either high kicks or well-positioned ones was a key part of the success for the great Raiders teams of the 1970s and 80s.

"It was something that was given to me. I don't know how," he said. "I'm really blessed in that category. It's something I really appreciate and I advanced it and I made it into something great."

Guy's statistics look somewhat pedestrian compared to today's punters. His career average of 42.4 yards per kick ranks 61st all-time and his net average of 32.2 yards (excluding his first three seasons when the statistic wasn't kept by the NFL) isn't even in the top 100.

Yet, he still is considered by many as the best to ever play the position and is widely respected in the fraternity of punters, including about 20 who plan to attend the induction.

"He should be first because he played his position in an outstanding manner in his era, and more important than that, he brought great notoriety to the position," said Sean Landetta, who punted for 22 seasons in the NFL. "You're talking about the Hall of Fame and the most famous punter is Ray Guy."

Guy also earned the respect of his teammates on the Raiders, who considered him much more than a specialist and a key component on three Super Bowl champions with his ability to change field position every time he kicked the ball.

"It should not have taken this long to recognize him," former Raiders defensive back George Atkinson said. "He was quite a weapon for us. Not only could he get the ball up high with hang time, but he also had great placement."

Those are some of the reasons why Davis bucked conventional wisdom and took Guy out of Southern Mississippi in 1973. One of the sad byproducts of Guy's long wait to get into the Hall of Fame is that one his biggest backers, Davis, won't be there to see it. The former Raiders owner died in 2011.

Guy also said he will be emotional thinking of his deceased parents and his college coach, P.W. Underwood.

With Davis not there, Guy has chosen his Hall of Fame coach, John Madden, to introduce him. Guy also said it is comforting to know that Davis' wife Carol and son Mark will be in the audience, along with many of his former teammates.

"That will make it a little bit easier, but the leader won't be there," he said. "But he will be. All he's gonna say is, 'Just win, baby.'"


TAMPA, Fla. -- Eighteen years later and now headed to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Derrick Brooks laughs at the memory of sitting in a hotel room the morning of a game early in his career.

He was turning on a TV and being riled by a national commentator who not only forecast another loss for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers but jokingly referred to the struggling team as the "Yucks."

The young, undersized linebacker who would go on to become the heartbeat of a Super Bowl champion turned to roommate Warren Sapp, another second-year pro embracing the challenge of transforming one of the worst franchises in pro sports history into a title contender, and the two of them locked angry eyes.

"I was upset. Sapp was beyond upset. ... We thought we were turning the corner," Brooks recalled. "We kind of looked at each other and I said: 'This has got to stop. We're not going to be defined by this.'"

As first-round draft picks in 1995, Brooks and Sapp entered the league with a team that suffered through 12 consecutive seasons with 10 or more losses before their arrival.

Along with hard-hitting safety John Lynch, they formed the cornerstone of a dominant defense that keyed a Super Bowl run in 2002 and ranked among the best in the NFL for more than a decade.

It's difficult, though, for Brooks to talk about where he helped lead the Bucs during a Hall of Fame career without remembering that Sunday in San Diego.

That was when the "Yucks" rallied from an early 14-0 deficit to beat the heavily favored Chargers under a first-year coach named Tony Dungy, architect of the cover-2 defensive scheme the Bucs played so well it became known as the "Tampa 2."

"The way we were able to come back and win that game, I attribute a lot of that to our turnaround," Brooks said.

"Coach Dungy as a coach was about excellence. He had his quiet way of challenging us," the 2002 NFL defensive player of the year added. "Some days I'd look at my grade sheet, thinking it had been a pretty good work day. He'd crumble it up and say it's not good enough."

At 6 feet, 235 pounds, Brooks was deemed by many to be too small to excel at outside linebacker in a league where bigger, stronger athletes such as Lawrence Taylor and Derrick Thomas set a standard for the position as ferocious pass rushers.

That was a role Brooks rarely was asked to fill in 14 seasons with Tampa Bay.

Instead, he transformed the position by developing into one of the best all-around linebackers in league history, using his speed and quickness to make plays all over the field and ending his career with 25 interceptions, 13 1/2 sacks and 11 Pro Bowl selections.

The six-time All-Pro scored four touchdowns off turnovers in 2002, then capped the greatest season in franchise history with a 44-yard interception return for a TD during Tampa Bay's rout of the Oakland Raiders in the Super Bowl.

"People say he didn't rush the passer. He didn't have to. That was my job. You can't have one guy doing everything," said Sapp, who was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2013, his first year of eligibility.

Brooks, a first-ballot selection this year, will be inducted on Saturday, joining his long-time friend and former roommate, as well as 1995 inductee Lee Roy Selmon as the only Buccaneers enshrined in Canton, Ohio.

"People ask me all the time, who was the best? Brooks was. He could touch every person on your team and they'd walk away feeling like: 'Oh yeah, I'm going to follow him and go through the wall," Sapp said. "He's the greatest outside linebacker that never rushed the passer. Period. It's not even close."

Shortly after arriving in Tampa Bay, Dungy sat down with Brooks and Sapp individually and expressed his belief that they had the potential to mean just as much to the Buccaneers during their careers as Hall of Famers Jack Ham and Joe Greene did to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 1970s.

Both of them took the challenge to heart, with Brooks emerging as the unquestioned leader in a locker room featuring dominant personalities, including the boisterous Sapp, Lynch, Keyshawn Johnson and Simeon Rice.

"He really was the soul of that team. ... There was a special way that he went about his business and conducted himself," Dungy said.

"He would come to me and say: 'You need to be on the lookout for this.' Or he'd tell me: 'Here's what's going on,'" the former coach said. "He had the heartbeat of the team, and it was in his heart to be like that not only for the team, but the community."

As good as Brooks was on the field, he's been equally impressive off it, winning numerous awards for civic and charitable work. In 2006, he helped establish the Brooks-DeBartolo Collegiate High School in Tampa.

"We had a stage that was big enough for everybody to stand on. And at the end of the day, just the way that I carried myself kind of put myself in a position where everybody felt they could depend on me," Brooks said.

"I didn't say anything unless it needed to be said, and I always backed it up with action," he added. "I always wanted to be the type of person to make a rookie feel just as welcome as a teammate of mine for 10 years. I treated them both the same. I think that earned guys' respect."


ATLANTA -- Claude Humphrey wishes he could have made the Pro Football Hall of Fame "a long time ago where I could have actually enjoyed it more."

Even so, there's a bonus for Humphrey, the former standout defensive end for the Atlanta Falcons and Philadelphia Eagles. Now that he's 70, it's the perfect time for Humphrey's 12-year-old grandson to savor the honor with him.

Humphrey's daughter, Cheyenne Humphrey-Robinson, will make the introductory speech at the ceremony. Sitting in the audience will be her son, Archie Robinson Jr.

"I couldn't go without my wingman," Humphrey said.

"It's a legacy for my only grandson. He gets a chance to learn a little something about his granddad. It's something I don't have to tell him. Other people can tell him. He won't think I'm telling him a lie."

The young Robinson will learn Humphrey was one of the game's most feared pass rushers during a career that began in 1968 and spanned three decades, including the 1979-81 seasons in Philadelphia.

Humphrey is credited with 94 1/2 sacks for a loss of 757 yards for the Falcons from 1968-78. Each total is a team record, but because sacks weren't officially recorded until 1982, Humphrey is convinced the numbers should be higher.

"Before they started keeping records of sacks, man, I was getting sacks left and right," he said. "That statistic they have has got to be wrong. ... The thing about me, I didn't care so much about getting the sack. A sack was just a tackle back then. Tackling the quarterback or tackling the ballcarrier on a running play was all the same."

Humphrey is only the second player drafted by the Falcons to make the Hall, following Deion Sanders.

"Having Claude in is great because he represents the old guys," said longtime Falcons linebacker Greg Brezina, who was a rookie with Humphrey in 1968.

"He was a great athlete. One of the best things about him was his winning attitude. He was a team player and, of course, he's probably one of the best defensive ends that there was out there. It's just a shame he played so long with a team that didn't win much. He didn't get the recognition."

By the Falcons' count, Humphrey set a career high with 15 sacks in 1976. STATS doesn't list his sacks because the records are incomplete.

That's OK with Humphrey, who wants to be remembered as more than a sacks specialist.

"The thing about my career is I just didn't concentrate on sacking the quarterback," Humphrey said. "I concentrated on being the total football player. Like batting the balls. Now it's considered a 'hurry,' but back then it was just a batted ball. I would always be in competition with the defensive backs to see if I could get as many batted balls as they got."

Falcons coach Mike Smith remembers Humphrey as "an all-around defensive end who could single-handedly wreck the game."

"I remember Claude really before they had pass-rush specialists and all that," Smith said, adding Humphrey posted two five-sack games with Atlanta.

"It speaks volumes of what kind of player he is," Smith said.

Humphrey temporarily retired after four games in 1978 -- missing his only chance at the playoffs with Atlanta. He returned with the Eagles and finally reached the Super Bowl in the 1980 season, when he had 14 1/2 sacks.

The Eagles lost to the Raiders in Super Bowl XV, but at least Humphrey had his long-awaited chance to play in the biggest game after so many losing seasons in Atlanta.

"It was the most exciting thing that could have ever happened to me," he said. "I went to Philadelphia to try to get on a winning team and experience what I experienced in college at Tennessee State. We were national champions two years in a row.

"In Atlanta, I never got used to losing. I just never got used to it. It made me play harder. I used to say to myself, well if we lose the game, the guy who lined up in front of me won't have anything to be excited about. When he looks at the film, he's not going to like what he sees of himself. I'm going to go out there and try to wear him down. That was the only thing that kept me motivated."

Now, after his long wait, Humphrey and his wingman are headed to Canton.

"I'm not glad that it took so long," he said, "but I'm glad I got in when I can smell the flowers."


Michael Strahan had one objective in mind when he came to the New York Giants as a second-round draft pick in 1993 out of Texas Southern.

"My goal when I first started was just to make a little money so I didn't have to move back to my parents' house," he says. "I didn't want to disappoint my parents. So that was my goal, to kind of just make my parents proud, make them happy, play as hard and just do the best I could do."

The best he could do was pretty good: Strahan will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday night.

Strahan was the leader of a defense that stunned the undefeated Patriots in the 2008 Super Bowl. He holds the single-season mark for sacks with 22 1-2 in 2001 -- yeah, we know all about Brett Favre's "dive" for the record-setting sack. He retired with 141 1-2 sacks, seven Pro Bowl appearances and four All-Pro team selections.

And while he was a game-changer on the field, he was making his mark elsewhere with his gregarious personality, gap-toothed smile and willingness to step out of his comfort zone. He became a regular in commercials, most notably for Subway.

Strahan easily moved from the field to the television studio after retirement, and now is co-host of the "Live! With Kelly and Michael" morning show.

But he's going into the Canton shrine because of his on-field achievements in 15 seasons, all with the Giants.

Playing for one team, joining former teammates Harry Carson and Lawrence Taylor in the hall, means plenty to the 42-year-old Strahan.

"Just so much history on the side of the Giants," Strahan says, "and the fact that you can see we all spent our career all in one place, which just goes to show that it's a family."

Not that a spot in Canton was on Strahan's mind when he wore No. 92 for the Giants.

"I think, when you once start thinking like that, you're setting yourself for failure," he says. "So I just went out and played every year for 15 as hard as I could and just -- at the end of it all, it took me years before I looked back on my career and said, 'Man, I did have a pretty good career.' Other than that, I just look at myself as a football player who happens to play as hard as I could and ended up by going out on the right note on a team that got hot at the right time and won a Super Bowl, and one of the most memorable ones going against an undefeated team."

Strahan had a sack in that game, the final one of his career. He became eligible for the hall in 2013 and was elected this year.

Seeing his former teammate and mentor selected for the hall reminds current Giants defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka of Strahan's refusal to come off the field. Strahan started 205 of his 216 career games, and was no situational player.

"I remember him specifically saying, That's just a chance for somebody to take your spot,' " Kiwanuka says. "He'd say, 'I'm never going to come off the field, they're going to have to drag me off the field.' You have to have that mentality of a warrior, somebody who's going to be out there and be accountable every single play."

It takes more than determination, good health and some good fortune to achieve that. Giants general manager Jerry Reese recognizes that.

"Michael would get recognized most of the time as a pass rusher, and he was a great one," Reese says. "But he could also play the run as well as anybody at that position. He was great against the run."

He also was a teacher. Jason Pierre-Paul, the Giants' main sacks threat these days, notes that Strahan taught Osi Umenyiora the tricks of the trade. Umenyiora passed them along to Kiwanuka, who did the same for Pierre-Paul.

Reese took over for Ernie Accorsi as Giants GM in 2007, and his first task directly involved his star defensive end. Strahan held out of training camp, immediately setting up a challenge the new general manager had to overcome.

Obviously, the sides reached a deal, and six months later, the Giants were champions.

"Coach (Tom) Coughlin said when Chris Snee retired, 'Give me 100 Chris Snees on my team,' " Reese says. "Well, you can give me 200 Michael Strahans."


BUFFALO, N.Y. -- There are two things receiver Andre Reed is most certain of in preparing to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame this weekend.

The eight-year wait to hear his name called really didn't feel that long. More important, the timing of the announcement in February was fitting given the sudden uncertainty hovering over his beloved Buffalo Bills.

Jim Kelly, the Hall of Fame quarterback and face of the franchise, is in a weakened state while battling cancer. And Ralph Wilson, the team's Hall of Fame owner, died in March. The Bills are on the market, with concerns of the franchise potentially relocating under a new owner.

As a result, Reed views his induction as something capable of providing anyone who's ever had a connection to the Bills a joyous diversion by giving them a reason to celebrate Saturday night.

"This is bigger than me," Reed said. "We all know what's going on with the team and all that stuff. This is like a breath of fresh air. I'm glad I'm at the forefront of this, because there's something to be happy about."

Going from Kutztown State, a Division II school in Pennsylvania, to Canton, Ohio, Reed sparked more than a few celebrations during his 16-year NFL career, the first 15 spent in Buffalo.

When he retired after the 2000 season, Reed ranked third on the NFL list with 951 catches, fourth with 13,198 yards receiving and sixth with 87 touchdowns receiving. He was an integral part of a Kelly-quarterbacked and Marv Levy-coached team that won four consecutive AFC championships from 1990-93, but each time lost in the Super Bowl.

The team was built by former general manager Bill Polian, and has now produced six Hall of Famers, rounded out by Kelly, Levy, defensive end Bruce Smith, running back Thurman Thomas and receiver James Lofton.

Reed's induction was considered by many long overdue.

"Thank goodness," said Polian, who worried whether Reed's chances had passed him by. "I mean, there was no better receiver in football than Andre Reed when he played, and only Jerry Rice, in my humble opinion, is in the same breath."

Though Rice had the numbers and Super Bowl rings, Reed helped revolutionize the slot receiver position.

Despite a wiry, 6-foot-2, 190-pound frame, Reed was fearless in going across the middle to make catches in traffic in what was dubbed the Bills' "K-Gun" no-huddle offense.

"He was a slot receiver long before there was such a position," Polian said, noting that defenses first used linebackers to cover Reed. "He had to go in there in that traffic and do very heavy work."

Reed was driven to prove himself after going mostly overlooked before the Bills drafted him with the 86th pick in 1985.

He can still recall being seated on the same flight as Smith -- the Bills' No. 1 draft pick -- on his first trip to Buffalo.

"I was young and raw," Reed recalled. "I came from humble beginnings. I'm not saying nobody else did, but I had to be better than everybody else to get that eye looking at me."

The attention finally found him. Reed was a seven-time Pro Bowl selection. He became Kelly's most trusted target, with the two hooking up 663 times to set an NFL record which was eventually broken by the Indianapolis combination of Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison in 2004.

Former teammate-turned-broadcaster Steve Tasker recalled how Reed maintained his competitive desire after he retired.

That was apparent in 2002, during a flag football game for charity between teams headed by Kelly and former Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino.

"As we break the huddle, Andre can't help it. He goes: 'Hey, right here, bro.'" Tasker said with a laugh, recalling how much Reed wanted the ball even in a game with nothing on the line. "Jim stands up and says, 'Are you joking?' It was just like clockwork. It was hilarious."

For Reed, the Hall of Fame festivities will serve as a reunion and include Kelly, who is strong enough to make the trip.

"It's going to be real special to see him there," Reed said. "It's like your whole family being there."

The only one missing will be Ralph Wilson.

"He's going to be the only person, the most important person, that's not going to be there," Reed said. "But we all hold his spirit. And we all hold what he meant to football, what he meant to Buffalo."

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