Mark Humphrey / Associated Press
The largest class in Pro Football Hall of Fame history is set.
With the Hall of Fame having 25 inductees in the Centennial Class, a celebration of the NFL’s th season, there’s sure to be excitement in Canton, Ohio, later this summer. On Saturday, the Class of was finalized, as the five modern-era inductees were introduced at the annual NFL Honors event.
The group included former Pittsburgh Steelers safety Troy Polamalu, who was eligible for the Hall of Fame for the first time this year. H wi’ll be inducted in the same class as his former head coach Bill Cowher, who is one of two coach inductees along with Jimmy Johnson.
There are also (senior inductees (former players who have been retired for more than (years) and three contributors, including former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue.
Here’s a look at the modern-era inductees for this year Hall class, followed by highlights and reactions from Saturday’s announcements.
2021 Modern-Era HOF Inductees
Steve Atwater, S, Denver Broncos ( – 208), New York Jets ( )
Isaac Bruce, WR, Los Angeles / St. Louis Rams (2001 – 2009), San Francisco (ers) –
Steve Hutchinson, OG. , Seattle Seahawks (2003 – 09), Minnesota Vikings (2007 – 16) , Tennessee Titans (2020 )
Edgerrin James, RB, Indianapolis Colts ( – 2008, Arizona Cardinals (
– 14, Seattle Seahawks (
Troy Polamalu, S, Pittsburgh Steelers ( – 19)
Hall of Fame Highlights, Reaction
Of the five modern- era inductees, Steve Atwater had the longest wait. The former Denver Broncos and New York Jets safety was in his th year of Hall of Fame eligibility and was a finalist for the third time.
Atwater played in (games over his) – – year career, recording 1, (tackles and) interceptions. He was also known for being a hard-hitting safety, making things tough on opposing receivers and offensive players.
The Broncos shared a statement from former quarterback John Elway, who was teammates with Atwater and now serves as the team’s president of football operations and general manager:
It’s a good year for safeties, as Polamalu will also be inducted. Unlike Atwater, Polamalu had no wait — he will be the only first-year eligible player in the Hall of Fame class.
Polamalu, who was one of the best defensive players of his generation, is deserving of the honor. He helped lead the Steelers to two Super Bowl championships and was known for having multiple ways to affect the game on the defensive side of the ball.
While Polamalu was coached by Bill Cowher for some of his career, he also played under current Pittsburgh head coach Mike Tomlin , who congratulated Polamalu via Twitter:
Congratulations @tpolamalu. You were a true game changer every time you took the field. It was a joy and a pleasure to coach you and nobody is more deserving of being a first-ballot Pro Football Hall of Famer than you. So happy for you and your family.
The only other player who was in his first year of Hall of Fame eligibility was former Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne, who will not be inducted this year. However, one of his former teammates will, as Edgerrin James is getting inducted in his sixth year of eligibility.
Wayne congratulated James via Twitter:
It’s possible that Wayne will get inducted next year, which will also be the first year of eligibility for former teammate Peyton Manning, who will surely be inducted in .
Another player getting inducted in his sixth year of eligibility will be Isaac Bruce, who was a reliable receiver for NFL seasons. He had , career receiving yards, which ranks fifth all time behind only Jerry Rice, Larry Fitzgerald, Terrell Owens and Randy Moss.
It may have taken longer than many expected, but Bruce is now a Hall of Famer. The Los Angeles Rams shared the long-awaited moment when Bruce was introduced Saturday on Twitter:
Steve Hutchinson is getting inducted in his third year of Hall of Fame eligibility. He was a finalist all three years, and the with the consistency he brought on offensive lines for 17 seasons, it was only a matter of time before he went to Canton.
Over those years of his NFL career, Hutchinson spent the most time with the Minnesota Vikings, and he shared a message via the team’s Twitter after learning of his Hall of Fame induction:
It was an exciting day for each of these five players, and the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Twitter account shared a behind-the-scenes look at what it was like:
The Hall of Fame will enshrine these five players during the weekend of Aug. 6-9. The other 19 inductions for the Centennial Class will take place during a special celebration from Sept. – 27
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