Gonzalez makes Hall, along with Bailey, Reed, Law
For towering tight end Tony Gonzalez, this was a slam dunk.
The 6-foot-5 Gonzalez, who turned the celebratory post-TD dunk over the crossbar into an art form, was voted into the Hall of Fame on Saturday.
Joining him will be two more first-time nominees, Champ Bailey and Ed Reed, along with another defensive back, Ty Law, and center Kevin Mawae; Law and Mawae were both in their third year as finalists.
The contributor nominees, Broncos owner Pat Bowlen and Cowboys and NFL executive Gil Brandt , each made it, as did senior Johnny Robinson, the defensive back who helped the Chiefs win Super Bowl 4.
Gonzalez started in Kansas City and finished in Atlanta, where voters met on the eve of the Super Bowl to select the Class of 2019; they didn’t need much time to debate his worthiness.
In short, Gonzalez had more than his fair share of chances to jam. (Maybe not by accident, the NFL banned the practice in 2014, the year after he retired.)
The most prolific pass catcher at his position over a 17-year career, Gonzalez caught 1,325 passes (second in NFL history) for 15,127 yards (sixth) and 111 touchdowns. He was a six-time All-Pro, made 14 Pro Bowls, and his 916 catches with the Chiefs set one of 22 franchise records he held upon his retirement.
He’ll be donning the yellow jacket this summer alongside three players who spent part of their careers trying to stop him.
This marks the first time more than two defensive backs have made it in the same class.
Bailey played 15 years – five with Washington, then 10 more with Denver after the Redskins swapped him for Clinton Portis. Like so many great cornerbacks, Bailey did not rewrite the record book, in part because he was, for a huge chunk of his career, considered the best cover guy in the league. So most quarterbacks simply avoided him.
Still, he made three All-Pro teams, 12 Pro Bowls and a nonetoo-shabby 52 interceptions. His best-remembered pick was a 103-yard return against Tom Brady in the 2006 playoffs that did not go for a touchdown. Denver did score shortly afterward, though, on the way to the win. Eight years later, Bailey made his only Super Bowl.
“This is home and timing was just right for it,” said Bailey, who grew up in Folkston and played college ball at Georgia. “Having Pat Bowlen go in, I never expected it to be like this. It hasn’t sunk in yet. It’s been a great ride.”