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News » Woodson headed to Hall of Fame


Woodson headed to Hall of Fame


Woodson headed to Hall of Fame
TAMPA, Fla. ? In Rod We Bust.


A day before his former team goes for its sixth Super Bowl title, Steelers great Rod Woodson became part of another special six.

The cornerback and five others were elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday, with Woodson getting the nod his first time on the ballot.

"I'm still pinching myself a little bit," said Woodson, a 17-year veteran who played cornerback in Pittsburgh from 1987-96. "It's so surreal. I am going to take this slowly."

Woodson became the first Steelers player elected since receiver John Stallworth in 2002. Overall, he's the 20th Steeler tabbed for induction and the first Steelers cornerback to get a bronze bust since Mel Blount in 1989.

Former Steelers center Dermontti Dawson and former Redskins lineman and Steelers assistant coach Russ Grimm didn't receive enough votes.

Dawson played for the Steelers from 1988-2000. He's been a finalist five consecutive years.

Grimm, a Scottdale native who played at Pitt, hopes to get a consolation prize this weekend. He's in Tampa as an assistant coach with Arizona Cardinals in Super Bowl XLIII.

Others elected include former Buffalo Bills defensive end Bruce Smith, former Minnesota Vikings guard Randall McDaniel, late Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Derrick Thomas, late Dallas Cowboys receiver Bob Hayes and 90-year-old Bills owner Ralph Wilson Jr.

The group will be enshrined 7 p.m. Aug. 8 in Canton, Ohio.

Thomas and Hayes will be inducted posthumously. Thomas died in 2000 from injuries sustained in an auto accident.

Lucille Hester, Hayes' sister, read a thank-you letter her brother prepared before he died of various health issues in 2002 -- just in case he was elected.

Woodson, who thanked his family for their support, says he will choose between two friends from Fort Wayne, Ind., to give his induction speech.

He didn't appear nervous prior to yesterday's announcement. Early in the afternoon, he was at his hotel pool, alone and reading a book.

"I got a great opportunity with Pittsburgh and the Rooney family, who I have to thank dearly," said Woodson, who went to Super Bowls with the Steelers, Ravens and Raiders, winning with Baltimore in 2001. He's the first Ravens player to make the Hall.

Woodson, who also played for the Raiders and 49ers, had 71 career interceptions, including an NFL record 12 for touchdowns. He returned the first pick of his career for a score.

He also will be remembered for his kick- and punt-return ability and remains a well-respected figure off the field.

"Rod is also one of the all-time great people," the NFL Network's Rich Eisen said.

Woodson, who said he began playing Football because his brothers did, retired in 2003, finishing his career as a safety. He had five surgeries, but he came back strong time and again to play at a high level.

"I got paid to stay in shape," said Woodson, a member of the league's 1990s all-decade and 75th anniversary teams. "I say it all the time: it's the best temp job you can have in the United States of America -- playing professional sports."

The six new members will push the total number of Hall of Famers to 253, including 63 who made it in their first year of eligibility.

Smith, too, was a first-ballot pick.

The NFL's sack king, who led the Bills to four consecutive Super Bowls, was emotional as he took the stage yesterday.

"I was in the (hotel) weightroom this morning, and I had a moment," Smith said. "I thought about my (late) father and all the sacrifices he and my mother made. This is such an honor. I am crying not because I am less of a man, but because I am a man."

Woodson and Smith both wreaked havoc out of a 3-4 defense.

"I think you do win championships with defense," Woodson said.

Woodson was among 15 modern-day candidates. Grimm made the final 10, as did Cris Carter, Richard Dent, John Randle and Shannon Sharpe, but not the final five.

For the third consecutive year, former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue was denied entry.

The Hall of Fame Game will be played between the Tennessee Titans and Bills at 8 p.m. Aug. 9 at Fawcett Stadium.

Terrific 20

Here's a list of the Steelers in the Pro Football Hall of Fame

Name, Pos. ? Inducted

John "Blood" McNally, WR/Coach ? 1963

Burt Bell, Co-owner ? 1963

Art Rooney Sr., Founder
Walt Kiesling, OL/DL/coach ? 1966

Bill Dudley, RB ? 1966

Bobby Layne, QB ? 1967

Ernie Stautner, DT ? 1969

Joe Greene, DT ? 1987

John Henry Johnson, FB ? 1987

Jack Ham, LB ? 1988

Terry Bradshaw, QB ? 1989

Mel Blount, CB ? 1989

Franco Harris, RB ? 1990

Jack Lambert, LB ? 1990

Chuck Noll, Coach ? 1993

Mike Webster, C ? 1997

Dan Rooney, President/chairman ? 2000

Lynn Swann, WR ? 2001

John Stallworth, WR ? 2002

Rod Woodson, CB ? 2009

Class of 2009

Here's a list of the players elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday:

Player, Pos. ? NFL career

Bob Hayes, WR ? 1965-74 Cowboys, 1975 49ers

Randall McDaniel, G ? 1988-99 Vikings, 2000-01 Buccaneers

Bruce Smith, DE ? 1985-99 Bills, 2000-03 Redskins

Derrick Thomas, LB ? 1989-99 Chiefs

Ralph Wilson, Jr., Founder/owner ? 1960-present Bills.

Rod Woodson, CB/S ? 1987-96 Steelers, 1997 49ers, 1998-2001 Ravens, 2002-03 Raiders



Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: February 2, 2009

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