Gon­za­lez makes Hall, along with Bai­ley, Reed, Law

The Charlotte Observer (Sunday) - - NFL - BY EDDIE PELLS As­so­ci­ated Press

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.”

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