Five new members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame were elected Saturday with a couple of mild surprises and more disappointment for one longtime finalists in particular.
First, “the chosen few” were selected by the Hall of Fame voters Saturday afternoon prior to Super Bowl 54 in Miami and they are: first-time nominee safety Troy Polamalu (above) of the Pittsburgh Steelers, fellow safety Steve Atwater from the Denver Broncos, former offensive lineman Steve Hutchinson from the Vikings and the Seahawks, former Rams great Wide Receiver Isaac Bruce and former Colts and University of Miami star, Edgerrin James.
The selections of Atwater and Bruce were after each has been eligible for over a decade. Hutchinson beat out fellow lineman Alan Faneca along former Jaguars great Tony Boselli, who had been a finalist for the fourth straight year.
Bruce who played High School ball at Ft. Lauderdale Dillard, had eight 1,000+ yard receiving seasons and helped the St. Louis Rams win the 1999 Super Bowl catching the the game winning bomb TD pass from fellow Hall of Famer, Kurt Warner.
The biggest snub continues to be former Buccaneers and Broncos safety, John Lynch. Lynch was a finalist for the seventh consecutive year without being selected, despite this year having every bit the credentials that Atwater has.
He was a nine-time Pro Bowl safety, a two-time first-team All-Pro, and a two-time second-team All-Pro.
Lynch also is a member of two different “Ring of honors” for the Buccaneers and the Broncos.
Lynch actually finished his career with the Broncos, where he made the Pro Bowl all four seasons in Denver. That’s in addition to what he did in Tampa Bay to help change the culture of the franchise and helped the Buccaneers win Super Bowl XXXVII in 2002
Atwater was a seven time Pro Bowler and was part of two Bronco Super Bowl wins.
Dolphins star linebacker Zach Thomas was also denied in his first year, as one of the 15 finalists.
The occasion is especially sweet for James, as he is an Immokalee High School product, who starred for the U in the late 1990s and was a former first-round pick of the Colts. James was part of the Colts become an AFC Powerhouse in the early 2000s with Peyton Manning at the helm and rushed for 1,100 yards or more seven times.
Manning is eligible for the Hall of Fame next season and will be an obvious first time choice 52 weeks from now.