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Pro Football Hall adds seven more

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Tomlinson, Warner, Taylor lead Canton’s 2017 class

The collection of football immortals enshrined at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton has gotten a little bigger.

Five men – running backs LaDainian Tomlinson and Terrell Davis, quarterback Kurt Warner, defensive end Jason Taylor and kicker Morten Anderson - took their place alongside other legend of the game at the ceremony that took place on Aug. 5. They were joined by safety Kenny Easley – who was selected by the senior committee – and Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, chosen as a contributor.

In terms of sheer dominances, Tomlinson is probably this class’s headliner. He cruised in on the first ballot thanks to a brilliant 11-year career spent largely with San Diego. He led the league in both rushing yards and rushing touchdowns three times. He still holds the record for most total TDs in a season, having scored 31 in his bonkers video-game 2006 season. Even though his career ended when he was just 32 following a couple of ho-hum seasons with the Jets, his body of work is impeccable. His final tally: 13,684 rushing yards (fifth all-time) and 162 total TDs (third), along with 624 catches for an additional 4,772 yards. Any way you slice it, this three-time first-team All-Pro is an all-timer.

But when you’re talking great stories, it’s hard to beat Warner, whose path to the NFL – from undrafted to the Arena League to stocking shelves to an improbable run as one of the most prolific passers in the league at the helm of the St. Louis Rams and the “Greatest Show on Turf” - was unlike anything the league had seen. He averaged more than 4,000 yards per season and passed for 41, 21 and 36 TDs, completing better than two-thirds of his throws along the way. After a few seasons marred by injury and inconsistency, Warner bounced back to bookend his career with three exceptional seasons in Arizona, including taking them to the Super Bowl one year. His career numbers aren’t that impressive, but his career is.

Jason Taylor spent 15 years – 13 of them with the Miami Dolphins – chasing down quarterbacks at a rate as high or higher than just about anyone else in NFL history. The three-time first-team All-Pro had 139.5 quarterback sacks for his career, putting him seventh all-time. He also forced 46 fumbles, recovering 29 of them and returning six for a TD; that last is the highest total ever. He even had eight picks, with three going for scores. He was a constant and disruptive presence on the defensive front for well over a decade – an east first-ballot pick.

Terrell Davis was decidedly not a first-ballot pick; he’s been waiting for well over a decade to get the call to the Hall. His career numbers don’t pop; he only played seven seasons – all with Denver – and of those, only the first four were full. But oh, what a four-year run – from 1995 through 1998, Davis made massive performance leaps. His debut season was a very good 1,117 yard/seven TD year; by 1998, he was having a season for the ages, becoming just the third back to rush for over 2,000 yards in a season while also scoring 21 TDs and, oh yeah, winning the second of back-to-back Super Bowls. He spent the late 1990s as the best back in the NFL – eventually, that turned out to be enough.

Ah, Morten Anderson – gotta love it when a kicker makes the Hall. And if you’re going to take one, well … it ought to be Mort. Thanks to a 25-year NFL career that ended when he was 47 years old, he is the all-time NFL leader in games played (382), field goals made (565) and total points scored (2,544); he’s second in extra points (859) as well. It took him a decade to get here, but he warrants his inclusion in Canton.

Notable near-misses include Terrell Owens, whose inexplicable exclusion continues, and his fellow wideout Isaac Bruce; safeties John Lynch and Brian Dawkins; linemen like Tony Boselli and Alan Faneca; and cornerback Ty Law.

Those players will look to make their way in next year alongside 2018 first-ballot locks like linebacker Ray Lewis and wide receiver Randy Moss.

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