CANTON, OH (CBSMiami/AP) —It was a big night for some football legends as they were inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
As relaxed as if he had no one to block, Jonathan Ogden became the first Baltimore Raven to join the prestigious group of players.
He was followed moments later by former Packers linebacker Dave Robinson, then by Larry Allen, Ogden’s rare equal in their era among offensive linemen.
Bill Parcells then became the first coach in seven years to make the hall, with several of his proteges in the crowd at Fawcett Stadium on Saturday night.
The only coach to take four franchises to the playoffs, Parcells won Super Bowls with the New York Giants in the 1986 and 1990 seasons. The master of the team turnaround with the Giants, Patriots, Jets and Cowboys, Parcells was called “the definitive winner” by former player George Martin, who presented him for induction.
“Every organization I worked for supported me to the fullest,” he said. “Without that, you’ve got no shot.”
He praised everyone who contributed to success on the field: “There’s a kinship created that lasts for the rest of your life.”
Parcells’ career record was 183-138-1 and he won Coach of the Year honors in 1986 and 1994. He asked to have his bust placed somewhere near Lawrence Taylor in the hall “so I can keep an eye on that sucker.”
Ogden was the leadoff inductee in his seven-member class, just as he was the first player drafted by the Ravens after the franchise moved from Cleveland in 1996 and was renamed. The man who made that selection, fellow Hall of Famer Ozzie Newsome, now Baltimore’s general manager, presented the massive offensive tackle.
Newsome was one of more than 120 hall members, a record, who returned to Fawcett Stadium for the festivities as the hall celebrates its 50th anniversary.
A former college shot putter at UCLA, at 6-foot-9, 345 pounds, Ogden was an imposing presence at tackle for a dozen seasons in Baltimore, winning the 2000 NFL championship. Six months after the Ravens won their second Super Bowl, Ogden gave a smooth, humor-laden speech, always in control — just like he was when neutralizing even the best opponents.
“He is part of the foundation of this franchise, part of the reason we have two Super Bowl championships,” Newsome said.
Ogden, who was given a 2013 Super Bowl ring by the team, made the hall in his first year of eligibility. He was a six-time All-Pro, made the Pro Bowl 11 times and was the main blocker when Jamal Lewis rushed for 2,066 yards in 2003.
“Talent isn’t enough,” Ogden said. “A lot of people have talent, they don’t always live up to it. For me it is about maximizing, striving for perfection.
“I am so proud to be the Baltimore Ravens’ first Hall of Fame inductee.”
Allen, who sniffled his way through his speech, was just as dominating a blocker as Ogden. He also was, he said, NFL’s strongest man, once bench-pressing 700 pounds, and saying “I did it naturally.”
One of the key blockers for Dallas as Emmitt Smith became the NFL’s career rushing leader, Allen made six All-Pro squads and 11 Pro Bowls in his 14 seasons, the final two with San Francisco. He won the Super Bowl in the 1995 season and was voted into the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility,
“I just knew I had to win every play,” he said. “That’s the reason I am here I knew if I lost a play, I had 45 seconds to get even.”
Presented by Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who drafted Allen out of small-college Sonoma State in 1994, Allen punctuated his discourse with the requisite “How about them Cowboys?” as he joined the likes of Smith, Troy Aikman, Michael Irvin and Deion Sanders in the hall.
Robinson became the 12th inductee from the vintage Packers coached by Vince Lombardi to be enshrined. Robinson was a prototype outside linebacker who could rush the quarterback, cover tight ends or running backs on pass plays, and stop the run. He made the NFL’s All-Decade team of the 1960s and won three NFL titles, including the first two Super Bowls.
“This is the biggest day of the 21st century for the Robinson family,” he said, adding that he “lives 25 miles from here but it took me 38 years to get here.”
Not quite: Robinson served on the Hall of Fame’s board of directors for 27 years. Now, he has a bust in the museum.
“I never dreamt about the Hall of Fame” when he was at Penn State, he joked. “There wasn’t even a Hall of Fame when I broke in to the NFL.”
Indeed, Robinson’s rookie season was the year the hall was created, 1963.
“Now, I am immortalized.”
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