PHOENIX (AP) — Junior Seau, Jerome Bettis, Tim Brown, Charles Haley and Will Shields were elected Saturday to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
The class of 2015, announced a day before the Super Bowl, also includes a pair of contributors, Bill Polian and Ron Wolf, along with senior selection Mick Tingelhoff.
Five nominees were eliminated in the final vote: Tony Dungy, Kevin Greene, Marvin Harrison, Orlando Pace and Kurt Warner.
Earlier Saturday, the selection committee reduced the list of 15 modern-day finalists by cutting Morten Andersen, Terrell Davis, John Lynch and coaches Don Coryell and Jimmy Johnson.
A candidate needs 80 percent of the vote from 46 media members to get in.
The induction ceremony is in August at Canton, Ohio.
Seau, elected posthumously, was the only first-time eligible candidate to get in this year. He committed suicide at age 43 in 2012, and researchers who studied his brain said it showed signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a disease connected to repeated head injuries, including concussions.
His death, less than 2 1/2 years after the end of his playing career, resonated among players in the league, raising worry about the physical and emotional toll the sport takes.
A field-covering, hard-hitting linebacker, the charismatic Seau played in the NFL for 20 seasons, the first 13 with the San Diego Chargers, followed by three with Miami and four with New England. He was Defensive Player of the Year for San Diego in 1992, made six All-Pro teams, and was a member of the league’s All-Decade team of the 1990s.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick said this week he “loved” having Seau on his roster.
“I can’t imagine having a Professional Football Hall of Fame without Junior Seau in it,” said Belichick, whose team plays the Seattle Seahawks in Sunday’s Super Bowl.
“I’d say the one word that comes to me when I think about Junior and football is ‘passion.’ He was a very passionate guy. A lot of energy. Lot of enthusiasm. First guy in the building in the morning — watching film, lifting weights, ready for practice,” Belichick said. “Energy before the game, on the sideline, during the game. An emotional player, but a smart player.”
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