Officially is has only been six days, but in that short time the most recent inductees have already stolen the title of the greatest class ever to enter the Professional Football Hall of Fame.
The class of 2010 includes a hog, a franchise, a dome patrolman, a motor mouth, a defensive genius, and is capped off by the league’s all time leading rusher and receiver. But before we get to the accomplishments of the group’s headliners, let’s take a look at the contributions of its supporting cast.
In their respective careers, Randle and Jackson combined for 265 quarterback sacks (they rank seventh and tenth respectively on the all-time career sack list). To put that into context, that two-man sack total is more than the entire Jacksonville Jaguars defense could record in the last eight seasons combined (the Jags amassed only 259 sacks as a team since the 2002 season).
While Randle and Jackson were legendary for their play in opposing offenses’ backfields, it was LeBeau’s presence in the defensive secondary that set him apart. Despite the fact that he retired more than 35 years ago, he still claims the eighth most career interceptions in NFL history, with 62 picks to his credit. But, as impressive as that statistic is, it is not the legacy that LeBeau leaves.
LeBeau’s greatest contribution to the NFL was the invention of the Zone Blitz (that’s right, he invented it).
As for the offensive side of things, Russ Grimm was the key player in one of the greatest offensive lines of all time – the Washington Redskins legendary “Hogs” line. Along with his fellow linemen, Grimm helped lead his team to three Super Bowl championships during the 1980s and 1990s.
Then there is Floyd Little, a player that the entire city of Denver should be thanking DAILY. If not for Little, the Broncos would likely have packed up and left town decades ago. Instead, Little helped bring the Broncos back to relevance, and although he played nine seasons for a struggling franchise that never reached a single playoff game during his career, Little managed to earn five different Pro Bowl selections and became the first player ever to lead the league in rushing while playing for a losing team.
While that group of five players is strong enough on its own to stake a claim among some of the greatest classes ever to enter the Hall, this year it is actually the B-side of the 2010 class.
What propels the 2010 class of Hall of Fame inductees into the status of being the greatest class ever is the fact that they are led by Emmitt Smith and Jerry Rice, the most accomplished running back and wide receiver in the history of the league.
Smith and Rice own just about every rushing or receiving record in the league. They have won a collective six Super Bowl championships, 21 Pro Bowl invitations, and both have earned Super Bowl MVP recognition.
From a production standpoint, Rice has caught more passes for more yards and more touchdowns than any player to put on an NFL uniform. Smith owns the same credentials, having rushed more times for more yards and more touchdowns than any player in the history of the NFL.
Emmitt Smith ranks second all-time in total touchdowns scored and total yards from scrimmage. Do you know who the one man is that he sits behind on both those lists? Jerry Rice.
Over the course of their respective careers Smith and Rice combined for a total of 45,119 offensive yards and scored a combined 383 touchdowns. By comparison, that is more production from two men than the combined total of the seven most productive offensive TEAMS in the league last season (New Orleans, Dallas, New England, Houston, Minnesota, Green Bay, and Pittsburgh).
Rice and Smith serve as the icing on the cake for this class of Hall of Fame enshrinees.
On both sides of the ball, and now on the sidelines, the contributions of these seven newest HOFers to the NFL are unsurpassed. Their contributions do not just influence the outcome of the games they played in, but instead influenced the entire NFL. From top to bottom this newest batch of legends comprises the greatest single collection of players ever to be inducted into Canton at one time.