CANTON, Ohio ( Associated Press) — Leroy Butler jumped into the Pro Football Hall of Fame with the same enthusiasm as he celebrated big plays at Lambeau Field.
Four-time All-Pro protection Tom Benson was the first of eight members of the Class of 2022 installed Saturday at the Hall of Fame Stadium.
“DJ Khalid said it best: ‘God did it,'” Butler began, referencing the song. “When you play for the Green Bay Packers, a lot of doors open up. When you win the Super Bowl, more doors open. When you are elected to the Hall of Fame, football heaven opens up. This is a rare company.”
When he mentioned growing up in Jacksonville, Butler cheered in the presence of Jaguar fans to see Tony Bocelli join in.
“Thanks, Duval,” said Butler. “My mother, who grew up in poverty, thought of us as rich every day, because it’s not about what you have or what you have, but how you act.”
Butler helped restore Green Bay’s glory days during a career spanning 12 years. His versatility as a safety set the standard for a new wave in the position and earned him a spot on the league’s All-Decade team of the 1990s.
Butler originated the “Lambeau Leap” and was a key sack in Green Bay’s Super Bowl victory over New England. He was just short of becoming the first player in league history to finish his career with 40 interceptions and 20 sacks.
Sam Mills, 5-foot-9 linebacker nicknamed “Field Mouse” During his 12-year career with the New Orleans Saints and Carolina Panthers, Butler was inducted posthumously. An inspirational figure, Mills overcame tremendous odds to reach the NFL.
Mills played Division III college football and was not drafted. He was cut by the Cleveland Browns and Toronto Argonauts of the CFL and began his professional career with the Philadelphia Stars of the USFL. Jim Mora, who coached the Stars, brought him to New Orleans in 1986, and Mills never looked back.
Melanie said, “He was told he wasn’t old enough to play college football or that he was old enough to play professional football, and at age 27, he wasn’t young enough to play in the NFL and yet we’re still here today. Celebrating.” Mills, Sam’s widow.
Mills made 1,265 tackles, recovered 23 fumbles, forced 22 fumbles, had 20 1/2 sacks and intercepted 11 passes in 12 seasons. He was also part of the first four playoff teams in the history of the Saints and the first in the history of the Panthers.
After his retirement, Mills became an assistant coach with the Panthers. He was diagnosed with colon cancer before the 2003 season, but he continued coaching during his treatment and as his “keep pounding” speech on the eve of the club’s Super Bowl matchup with New England at the end of that season. Is known.
Mills died in April 2005 at the age of 45. His “keep pounding” remains the tag line of the Panthers.
With the first-ballot candidates in a year, the attendees had to wait for a long time to make the hall.
Defensive tackle Richard Seymour didn’t wait too long to taste success in the NFL. He was part of three Super Bowl championship teams. In his first four seasons with the New England Patriots.
Seymour pointed to the defensive veterans of those teams, but did not name Tom Brady.
“We had a young quarterback, but we made it work,” Seymour said with a laugh to the crowd.
Seymour had 57 1/2 career sacks in 12 seasons before ending his career with the Auckland Raiders, the first eight in New England.
“I am overwhelmed with humility because it’s not about what it says about me but what it says about us and what we can do together,” he said. “I am overwhelmed with gratitude because I didn’t get here alone. None of us did. None of us could have. ,
Seymour, 42, thanked his wife, Tanya.
“Football is what I do, but family is what I am,” he said. “Thank you for everything you have added to my life. This day belongs to my family. Scripture teaches that your wealth is in your family.”
Seymour called his three children his “greatest joy”.
“There is no greater honor than to be your father in all that I have achieved,” he said.
Seymour praised Patriots owner Robert Kraft and former Raiders owner Al Davis and his son, Mark Davis.
He credits his success to lessons he learned from Patriots coach Bill Belichick: Work hard, be careful in your preparation, support your teammates, and respect your opponents.
“It wouldn’t have happened if it weren’t for Coach Belichick,” Seymour said.
Longtime acting head of state Art McNeely gave a video speech after being included as a contributor.
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