There is no greater individual honor in professional football than being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame located in Canton, Ohio. The greatest football players of all time have been so honored and memorabilia from the greatest games of all time reside inside the walls of the Hall of Fame. Each year there is a new class of hall of fame inductees that have been voted in based on the impact they have made on the game of pro football. The Hall of Fame class of 2008 included some of the great players from a variety of different eras.
San Diego Chargers (1975-81)
San Francisco 49ers (1981-85)
After a stellar season at Louisiana Tech University, Fred Dean spent eleven seasons in the NFL, six and a half with the San Diego Chargers and five and a half with the San Francisco 49ers. Dean was a solid defensive tackle while with the Chargers but really came into his own with the 49ers. He would go on to rack up 93 sacks during his career and be named to four Pro Bowl teams. Winning two Super Bowl rings with San Francisco was the nice end to a great career.
Washington Redskins (1983-02)
One of only two players ever to play twenty seasons with the same team, the other being fellow Hall of Famer Jackie Slater of the Rams, Darrell Green showed he was truly one of the best defensive backs to ever play the game. Known widely for his speed, having won the NFL’s Fastest Man competition on numerous occasions, there were few quarterbacks that looked forward to going up against the Redskins and their start cornerback. He would be named to the Pro Bowl seven different times (1984, 1986, 1987, 1990, 1991, 1996, 1997) and would win two Super Bowl rings. Darrell Green would retire from football in 2002 the holder of many records including: Most consecutive seasons with an interception (19), oldest NFL cornerback (42), oldest player to return an interception for a touchdown (37), most games played by a defensive player (295), and the fastest 40 yard dash time of any player in NFL history (4.09 seconds in 1986).
Washington Redskins (1980-93)
New York Jets (1994)
Philadelphia Eagles (1995)
Art Monk was noted for his amazing consistency over the course of his career as a wide receiver in the National Football League. He made his greatest impact with the Washington Redskins in the early 1980’s catching passes from quarterback Joe Theismann. He would go on to win three Super Bowl rings and be named to the NFL’s 1980s All-Decade Team. Monk was the first player to catch a touchdown pass in 15 consecutive seasons, the first player to catch more than 900 career receptions, and at the time of his retirement was the all time pass receiving leader.
Kansas City Chiefs (1966-78)
Emmitt Thomas was a long shot to become an inductee into the Pro Football Hall of Fame considering he graduated from Bishop College in 1966 and was not drafted by any team in either the National Football League or the American Football League. Thomas would go on to be named to five Pro Bowl teams, win a Super Bowl championship, and retire as the Chiefs’ team leader in career interceptions (58). He would go on to have a long career as an assistant coach in the NFL and two of the players he coached while with the Washington Redskins, Art Monk and Darrell Green, were also inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2008.
New England Patriots (1982-93)
Ranked consistently as one of the best linebackers in the league during the 1980s, Andre Tippett was a true force to be reckoned with on the football field. He would finish his career with an even 100 quarterback sacks and had been voted onto the Pro Bowl team on five different occasions. He is a member of the NFL’s 1980s All-Decade Team and was named the 1985 NFL Defensive Player of the Year. He has also been honored as a member of the Patriots’ 35th Anniversary Team and was also inducted into the New England Patriots Hall of Fame.
Los Angeles Express (1984-85)
Minnesota Vikings (1986-92)
Denver Broncos (1993-97)
Gary Zimmerman is in rare company as one of the few people to have been members of the now-defunct United States Football League to also be enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame (joining Reggie White, Steve Young, Jim Kelly, Marv Levy, and Sid Gillman). Zimmerman was selected to be on the Pro Bowl team seven times during his career and named an All-Pro at his position on 9 different occasions. As an example of Gary Zimmerman’s ability to play consistently at a very high level, he holds the distinction of having been named to both the 1980s NFL All-Decade Team and the 1990s NFL All-Decade Team.
Being named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame is the highest individual honor a football player can achieve. Membership in this elite group means just that, that the player is truly elite in terms of their football ability and the impact they had on the game. These six members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame inducted in 2008 have all shown that they are truly worthy of such an honor. Congratulations is indeed in order for Fred Dean, Darrell Green, Art Monk, Emmitt Thomas, Andre Tippett, and Gary Zimmerman.