Duke Slater, defensive standout Ed Sprinkle and NFL Films pioneer Steve Sabol are the latest members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s centennial class
Duke Slater, one of the NFL’s first black players, defensive standout Ed Sprinkle and NFL Films pioneer Steve Sabol are the latest members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s centennial class.
Moments after wide receiver Harold Carmichael and offensive tackles Winston Hill and Jim Covert were announced Wednesday morning, Slater, Sprinkle and Sabol joined them. Over the weekend, the election of coaches Bill Cowher and Jimmy Johnson as part of the special class celebrating the NFL’s 100th season was revealed. Seven more 2020 members are upcoming.
Slater played 10 seasons in the early NFL, from 1922-31, mostly for the Chicago Cardinals, making four all-NFL squads at tackle when players went two ways. He was the longest-tenured African-American player during that era and was the main blocker for Ernie Nevers when Nevers scored 40 points in one game.
Sprinkle was called “the greatest pass rusher” that George Halas ever saw. In his 12 pro seasons as a linebacker, defensive end and end on offense — yes, another two-way star who once was dubbed “the meanest man in ’’ — he made four Pro Bowls and the 1940s All-Decade Team.
Sabol, whose father Ed was enshrined in 2011, was the creative force at NFL Films, which has become an institution in the world. NFL Films won more than 100 Emmy Awards under his stewardship, telling stories about players and teams in ways previously untried in sports. Steve and Ed Sabol are the third father/son combination in the hall, joining Tim and Wellington Mara, owners of the New York Giants, and Art and Dan Rooney, owners of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
At 6-foot-8, 225 pounds, Carmichael was something very new to pro . He used his height, long arms and strong hands to dominate smaller defenders — which meant just about everyone — from 1971-84. He made 590 catches for 8,985 yards, a 15.2 average, and had 79 TD receptions in a mostly run-oriented league.
Hill was the powerhouse blocker for the New York Jets who stunned Baltimore in the third Super Bowl, considered the biggest upset in league history. Behind Hill, who played 15 seasons, the Jets used their running game to keep the Colts off-balance. Joe Namath has called Hill “one of the biggest reasons we won that game.”
Covert spent eight seasons in Chicago and was the top offensive lineman on the great 1985 Bears team that won the championship. Against pass rushers already in the Canton, Ohio, shrine such as Lee Roy Selmon and Lawrence Taylor, Covert allowed a mere 4 1-2 sacks. He was voted a Bears captain in his second season.
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