Grimm elected to Hall of Fame
UPDATED (8:57 p.m.)...
FT. LAUDERDALE, Fla.--The famed "Hogs" offensive lines of the glory days of the Washington Redskins got their first representative in the Pro Football Hall of Fame when former Redskins guard Russ Grimm was elected Saturday.
"It feels great," Grimm said in a telephone interview Saturday night. "I was elated, and I was also relieved. It's been like a 50-50 deal for me for a few years now. I wanted to get in and people would bring it up, but you want to keep an even keel about it so it's not a big letdown for everyone if you don't make it."
Grimm was chosen for enshrinement in Canton, Ohio, as part of a seven-member Hall of Fame class announced here on the eve of the Super Bowl. The class includes the NFL's career receiving leader, Jerry Rice, and all-time leading rusher, Emmitt Smith.
The other new Hall of Famers elected Saturday were Rickey Jackson, John Randle, Dick LeBeau and Floyd Little. The enshrinement ceremony is scheduled for Aug. 7 in Canton.
The results of the voting--conducted during an approximately seven-hour meeting Saturday involving the media members who serve as Hall of Fame selectors--were announced at an early-evening news conference at the Super Bowl media center.
Grimm, now the offensive line coach and assistant head coach of the Arizona Cardinals, played for the Redskins between the 1981 and '91 seasons. He played in four Super Bowls and was elected to four straight Pro Bowls between the 1984 and '87 seasons. Grimm also was selected to the NFL's all-decade team of the 1980s.
"I'm so excited for him," former Redskins offensive line coach Joe Bugel said. "That's big time. It's long overdue. The guy paid his dues. This is great for the Hogs. That group set a standard for what offensive line play in the NFL should be."
Grimm, also a former offensive line coach for the Redskins, said he had his two oldest sons with him in Arizona to watch the announcement. He said his thoughts turned, following a brief family celebration, to his former Hogs teammates.
"My boys were out here watching it with me," said Grimm, who was scheduled to take a red-eye flight to the Miami area to be here Sunday. "When they announced it, there was some elation and a bunch of high-fives. Then they said, 'We're going fishing,' and that was it. I guess that's what happens when you spend all those years not making a big deal about it.
"It's one of those things where I know I didn't get to this point by myself. I tell that to people all the time. I was lucky enough to be drafted by a team with a new head coach that was giving young guys a chance to play. I was fortunate to play with great players, and we had to live up to that nickname they gave us when we got to our first Super Bowl. This is about all the success we had there."
Grimm was elected in his 14th year of Hall of Fame eligibility.
The Redskins teams that reached four Super Bowls and won three of them in the '80s and early '90s under former coach Joe Gibbs already were represented in the Hall of Fame by Gibbs, running back John Riggins, wide receiver Art Monk and cornerback Darrell Green.
But there had been growing sentiment among the voters that a member of the Hogs deserved to be in Canton as well, given that those offensive lines were the foundation of the Redskins teams that won three Super Bowls with three different quarterbacks. Bugel and other observers said in recent days that the election of one of the Hogs to the Hall of Fame was overdue.
"It was a tear-jerker, man," Bugel said by telephone Saturday. "I love the guy. It's gonna be a lot of fun in Canton."
Grimm and offensive tackle Joe Jacoby were two of the longtime mainstays on the Hogs, whose cast of characters changed over the years. The group is credited by many observers with bringing public attention to offensive line play in the NFL, and some have called the Hogs the greatest groups of blockers in the history of the sport.
"I'm thrilled for Russ," Gibbs said in a written statement released by the Redskins. "He is very deserving. He was a big part of our success and our three Super Bowl championships. He was a versatile performer that could play center, guard and tackle and was a great leader. He is a great addition to the Pro Football Hall of Fame and I know there are a lot of Redskins fans that are very happy right now and I'm sure many of them will be in Canton this summer to cheer him on."
Redskins owner Daniel Snyder said in a written statement: "Our Redskins fans have always appreciated the Hogs. This is a long deserved honor and we are proud to have Russ as a member of the Hall of Fame. Hopefully Russ is the first of the Hogs to be inducted in Canton representing one of the greatest offensive lines in NFL history."
Jacoby called it "a great moment" and said in a written statement: "I sat here and cheered, yelled and screamed like I did two years ago when they put Art Monk in finally after all those years. I'm elated. He was my roommate for 11 years and I guess they'll be some celebrating out in Canton this August.
"He had the toughness, as a guy from Pennsylvania. I think he had tremendous leadership qualities, including his uncanny ability to lead on the field. His intelligence and his ability to make things happen on the football field helped lead us to championships. We had a very good player and very good teammate and he helped us come together on and off the field."
The election of Rice and Smith was a foregone conclusion, and now the sport's career receiving and rushing champions go into the Hall of Fame together.
Rice spent most of his storied career with the San Francisco 49ers and finished with 1,549 catches for 22,895 yards and 197 touchdowns in 20 NFL seasons. He had stints with the Oakland Raiders and Seattle Seahawks after his 49ers days.
"I never take anything for granted," said Rice, who became tearful during the announcement, which was carried live on the league-owned NFL Network. "It was just hard work and I love this game. It was everything to me."
Smith played 13 of his 15 seasons with the Dallas Cowboys and ran for 18,355 yards and 164 touchdowns. He finished his career with two unremarkable seasons with the Cardinals.
"The numbers never meant a lot to me," said Smith's former Cowboys teammate, Hall of Fame quarterback Troy Aikman. "What means a lot to me was that Emmitt was able to stay on the field and play at a high level. That defines greatness to me."
Smith, like Rice, had trouble avoiding tears while appearing live at the announcement.
"So many things have to fall in place in order to be in position to do some of the things we do," Smith said. "The Cowboys were 1-15 the year before I got there.... Nobody could have wrote a script this good."
The voters pared the list of modern era finalists from 15 to 10 by first cutting former coach Don Coryell and former players Tim Brown, Cris Carter, Roger Craig and Charles Haley. Eliminated in the reduction from 10 to five modern era finalists were former players Dermontti Dawson, Richard Dent, Cortez Kennedy, Andre Reed and Shannon Sharpe.
That left LeBeau and Little, the nominees of the seniors committee, joining the five remaining modern era candidates for a final yes-or-no vote by the selectors that was conducted via secret ballot, and all seven were elected.
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