Lewis high­lights strong Hall class

Packer Plus - - News - Barry Wilner AP pro foot­ball writer

Can­ton, Ohio — One of the great lead­ers foot­ball has seen, Ray Lewis used his Pro Foot­ball Hall of Fame in­duc­tion speech to call for more en­light­ened lead­er­ship in the United States.

The last of the seven mem­bers of the class of 2018 on hand to be en­shrined, Lewis es­chewed notes and the lectern, in­stead strolling along the stage and pas­sion­ately urg­ing his lis­ten­ers to come to­gether.

“Are you liv­ing ev­ery day to make this world bet­ter?” Lewis asked Satur­day night at the end of his 33minute or­a­tory, of­ten in­vok­ing the teach­ings of Martin Luther King. “Think what we can do if we work to­gether as a coun­try … teach­ing our na­tion to love each other again.”

Lewis was joined by Randy Moss, Brian Dawkins, Brian Ur­lacher, Jerry Kramer, Robert Brazile and Bobby Beathard as in­ductees at the hall cer­e­mony.

One of the best lineback­ers in NFL his­tory, Lewis won two Super Bowls with the Ravens and was a twotime De­fen­sive Player of the Year.

Dawkins also de­liv­ered a pow­er­ful speech and, as he promised, cried dur­ing it.

“The ma­jor­ity of suc­cess I have had has come on the back end of pain,” he said not­ing he had sui­ci­dal thoughts when he bat­tled depression. “On the other side of it, all of a sud­den I be­came bet­ter. There’s a pur­pose for my pain.”

Dawkins was the leader of an Ea­gles de­fense that made four straight NFC cham­pi­onship games and one Super Bowl. Voted to the 2000s NFL All-Decade Team and a five-time All-Pro, Dawkins in­ter­cepted passes in 15 sea­sons and had 37 picks over­all.

Ur­lacher be­came a record-28th Chicago Bear in­ducted into the hall. A first-year nom­i­nee who filled the tra­di­tion of great mid­dle lineback­ers in the Windy City so bril­liantly, Ur­lacher ac­tu­ally was a safety at New Mex­ico. Chicago se­lected him ninth over­all in the 2000 draft and im­me­di­ately con­verted

him to linebacker.

An­other first-year nom­i­nee, Moss brought the per­fect com­bi­na­tion of height, speed, soft hands and agility to Min­nesota as the 21st over­all draft pick in 1998 af­ter a rocky col­lege ca­reer. He also caught a record 23 TD passes from Tom Brady in New Eng­land’s per­fect 2007 reg­u­lar sea­son.

Ter­rell Owens de­clined to at­tend. In­stead, he held his own cel­e­bra­tion at his col­lege in Chat­tanooga, Tenn. He was shown in a video and his photo was hang­ing in Tom Ben­son Sta­dium. Oth­er­wise, T.O. was MIA.

In a lengthy and hu­mor­ous speech, Kramer brought the crowd back to the Lom­bardi Era. A se­nior com­mit­tee nom­i­nee, Kramer be­came el­i­gi­ble in 1974 af­ter 11 sea­sons with the Packers in which he won five NFL cham­pi­onships and two Super Bowls.

Brazile, known as Dr. Doom when he played in all 147 games for the Hous­ton Oil­ers in his 10-year NFL ca­reer, spoke of how he and Wal­ter Pay­ton made his­tory by be­ing se­lected in the first round of the same draft from a his­tor­i­cally black col­lege.

Beathard won four Super Bowls as a team ex­ec­u­tive and drafted four Hall of Famers.


The 2018 Class of the Pro Foot­ball Hall of Fame in­cluded (from left) Brian Dawkins, Robert Brazile, Bobby Beathard, Jerry Kramer, Randy Moss, Ray Lewis, and Brian Ur­lacher.

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