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Friday, May 29, 2020

Hall of Fame Class of 2018 is one of the best ever

Ray Lewis

When people look back at some of the best Hall of Fame classes of all time, the Class of 2018 will certainly get some recognition.

Eight people were added to the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday as members of the Class of 2018. The class includes Ray Lewis, Brian Urlacher, Randy Moss, Terrell Owens and Brian Dawkins. Jerry Kramer and Robert Brazile made it from the Senior Finalists, and Bobby Beathard was included as a contributor.

Between Lewis and Urlacher, you’re talking about two of the best linebackers in the game’s history.

Lewis played 17 career seasons — all with the Baltimore Ravens. He won two Super Bowls (was named MVP in one) and reached four conference championship games. His list of honors is incredible: He was named AP Defensive Player of the Year twice, All-Pro seven times, and he was a 13-time Pro Bowler. He wasn’t just a tackling machine; he also had 41.5 sacks and showed a knack for being in the right place with his 31 career interceptions — an incredible number for a middle linebacker. Lewis was the heart-and-soul of the Baltimore Ravens and helped the team boast one of the best defenses in the league for his entire career. He aged gracefully and continued to be a factor well into his 30s. There aren’t many better defensive players in the history of the game than Lewis.

Urlacher was one of Lewis’ peers and probably right behind him as one of the best linebackers in the game during his career. In addition to recording over 1,300 tackles during his 13-year career, Urlacher had 41.5 sacks, 22 interceptions and an impressive 15 fumble recoveries. He twice helped the Bears become the No. 1 defense in the league during his career. He led the Bears to the playoffs four times, including one Super Bowl appearance.

Much like Lewis and Urlacher, Terrell Owens and Randy Moss are two of the best wide receivers ever.

Moss became the third wide receiver to make the Hall of Fame on the first try (Jerry Rice and Steve Largent are the others). Though his effort and attitude were issues at times, there is no denying what a difference-maker Moss was on the field. He could beat nearly anyone downfield with his incredible speed. His height and jumping ability made it so he could win one-on-one battles against all defenders. Moss led the league in touchdown catches in five of his 14 seasons. He is fourth all-time in career receiving yards (15,292) and second in career touchdown receptions (156). His 23 touchdown catches in 2007 remain an NFL record.

Though Owens didn’t make it on his first try like Moss because of all the questions about his character as a teammate, his on-field accomplishments speak for themselves. T.O. is second all-time with 15,934 receiving yards and third with 153 career touchdown catches. A true game-breaker, Owens had nine career 1,000-plus yard seasons and led the league in touchdown catches three times. He was even productive in his final NFL season at age 37 when he caught 72 passes for 983 yards and nine touchdowns. He was named first-team All-Pro five times.

Dawkins was often viewed as one of the best safeties in the game during his 16-year NFL career. A do-it-all safety, he had 37 interceptions, 36 forced fumbles, 26 sacks and three touchdowns during his career. He was a 9-time Pro Bowler and four-time first-team All-Pro. The Eagles made the Super Bowl once during his career and lost in the NFC championship game four times.

Robert Brazile was a linebacker with the Houston Oilers from 1975-1984. He was a seven-time Pro Bowler and five-time All-Pro player. He helped the Oilers to consecutive AFC championship games.

Jerry Kramer was an offensive guard for the Green Bay Packers from 1958-1968. He was named to three Pro Bowls and played in 130 career games. He was part of the Vince Lombardi Packers and won three NFL championships and two Super Bowls. Kramer had been campaigning to make the Hall of Fame for around two decades.

Beathard was a front office man whose career spanned from 1966-99. He started as a scout, then became a player personnel director, before getting his first GM job in 1978 with the Redskins. Washington won two Super Bowls during his time as GM. He finished his career as GM of the Chargers, helping lead them to their first Super Bowl. In all, his teams made seven Super Bowls and won four.

What a class.

(all stats and info via Pro Football Reference)

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