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NFL Hall of Fame: Taylor only had to travel 20 miles – Eagle

CANTON, Ohio (AP) — Sackmaster Jason Taylor, elected in his first year of eligibility, was inducted Saturday night into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

A star mostly with Miami, Taylor also spent one season with the Redskins and one with the Jets. In his 15 NFL seasons, the versatile end was a three-time All-Pro and the 2006 Defensive Player of the Year. He had 13.5 sacks, two interceptions returned for touchdowns, 11 passes defensed, 10 forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and 62 tackles that season.

Taylor’s 139.5 career sacks helped him make the All-Decade Team of the 2000s. He also was the NFL’s Man of the Year in 2007.

A third-round draft pick from Akron — just down the road from the Hall of Fame — Taylor was presented for induction by Jimmy Johnson, who coached him for several years with the Dolphins.

“I honestly can’t believe I am here,” said Taylor, who kissed the shaved head atop his bust when it was unveiled. “In 1992 I was at the University of Akron, just 20 miles away. It took 20 years to travel 20 miles to put on this jacket. It was worth every step.”

Taylor choked up several times, especially when talking about the late Gary Wichard, who was his agent and, Taylor said, “truly the father I never had.”

Easley had to wait

Kenny Easley, a hard-hitting safety for the Seahawks and a member of the 1980s All-Decade Team, was inducted Saturday.

A seniors committee choice, Easley played only seven seasons and 89 games for Seattle. But what an impact he made as an intimidator and ballhawk.

The 1981 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, Easley was the league’s top overall defender in 1984 when he had a league-leading 10 interceptions, a career high.

Easley, who was presented for induction by his high school coach, Tommy Rhodes, retired after the 1987 season. He had to wait 24 years before being voted into the hall.

“I was first nominated for the hall in 1997,” Easley said. “Twenty years later — be anxious for nothing — the Hall of Fame was dropped on the shoulders of Kenny Easley like a pair of shoulder pads.

“Some folks said I deserved to be in the hall earlier; I don’t believe that. Others say he didn’t play long enough, I don’t believe that.”

Easley concluded a politically and religiously toned speech by saying: “I thank you for welcoming me into your exclusive club.”

Other inductees

The other new members are running backs Terrell Davis (Broncos’ all-time rushing leader) and LaDainian Tomlinson (13,684 rushing yards), kicker Morten Andersen (five-time All-Pro), quarterback Kurt Warner (two-time MVP) and Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.

Article source: http://www.eagletribune.com/sports/local_sports/nfl-hall-of-fame-taylor-only-had-to-travel-miles/article_5c8c476b-53df-5d3a-80f6-db3b5387eda4.html

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