The Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2024 was announced at the NFL Honors in Las Vegas on Thursday night, and as always, it’s a star-studded group.
Let’s take a look at who will be getting their gold jacket, and more importantly, a gold bust that will live in Canton, Ohio forever.
DE Dwight Freeney
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The Indianapolis Colts legend, who was selected 11th overall in the 2002 NFL Draft out of Syracuse, was a seven-time Pro Bowler and first-team All-Pro three times over his 16 NFL seasons.
While he did play for the San Diego Chargers, Arizona Cardinals, Atlanta Falcons and Seattle Seahawks, Freeney’s 11 years in a Colts uniform made him a staple in the Midwest. He collected 107.5 of his 125.5 sacks in Indy, while being a pivotal piece of the Colts’ Super Bowl XLI championship team.
Freeney finished his career with 148 quarterback hits and 128 tackles for loss, while forcing 47 fumbles, which ties him for third on the NFL’s all-time list.
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WR Andre Johnson
A feared wide receiver with the Houston Texans, Johnson surpassed 1,000 yards seven times in his 14 NFL seasons, while leading the NFL in receptions twice (2006, 2008). He is only one of three NFL wide receivers to lead the NFL in receiving yards in consecutive seasons during the Super Bowl era, with now-fellow Hall of Famers Calvin Johnson and Jerry Rice doing so as well.
Johnson also played for the Colts and Tennessee Titans in his 193 games. He totaled 14,185 yards on 1,062 career receptions with 70 touchdown catches.
PR/KR/WR Devin Hester
Simply put, Hester might be the best returner in the history of football. His best player is arguably the opening kickoff from Super Bowl XLI, which he took to the house, albeit in a losing effort. He holds the NFL records with 20 touchdowns on special teams in a career, 14 of which came on punts (also a record).
He returned four punts and two kicks for touchdowns in 2007, the most ever in a season. Eleven of his special teams touchdowns came in his first two NFL seasons, in 2006 and 2007. In 2013 and 2014, he led the NFL in yardage on kick returns with 1,436 and 1,128 yards, respectively.
LB Randy Gradishar
Gradishar made the Pro Bowl in seven of his 10 seasons in the Broncos’ Orange Crush defense. The 1978 Defensive Player of the Year, Gradishar was a two-time First-team All-Pro, and his 2,049 (unofficial) tackles are the second-most in NFL history.
LB Patrick Willis
He may have walked away from the game early in the eyes of NFL fans, but Willis’ impact with the San Francisco 49ers as their leader at middle linebacker was Hall of Fame worthy.
All of Willis’ eight seasons came in the Bay Area, where he immediately made his impact with 174 tackles to lead the NFL in 2007. He also won AP Defensive Rookie of the Year that season.
Willis went on to collect 950 combined tackles, 20.5 sacks, eight interceptions and 16 forced fumbles over his career.
DE Steve McMichael
“Mongo” as he is widely known, McMichael was twice a first-team All-Pro and won Super Bowl XX with the Chicago Bears.
McMichael’s wife, Misty, was in Vegas in honor of her husband, who is batting ALS.
DE Julius Peppers
Peppers made nine Pro Bowls while spending 10 of his 17 Hall of Fame seasons with the Carolina Panthers. Peppers immediately made his mark on the league, winning the Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2002 after being the second pick out of UNC (where he also played basketball).
Peppers racked up 159.5 sacks, deflected 82 passes, and forced 52 fumbles.
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After spending seven years with the Chicago Bears, and three with the Green Bay Packers, Peppers went back to Carolina for two more seasons. Peppers missed just six games in his career.