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Archive for Sunday, February 4, 2007

Irvin elected to football hall of fame

Ex-commissioner Tagliabue, ex-Chief Thomas fall short

February 4, 2007

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— Michael Irvin was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday despite a troubled past, though voters denied entry to retired NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue.

The former Dallas Cowboys receiver, who won three Super Bowls in the 1990s, got in on his third try.

Irvin pleaded no contest in 1996 to felony cocaine possession. Four years later, he was arrested on drug possession charges, but they were later dropped.

The 40 Hall voters were criticized by two of Irvin's former teammates, Emmitt Smith and Troy Aikman, for previously bypassing the wideout, who retired in 1999.

They didn't ignore him this time.

Tagliabue was eliminated in the first round of voting.

Also voted in were running back Thurman Thomas, offensive lineman Bruce Matthews, defensive back Roger Wehrli and two nominees of the veterans' committee - tight end Charlie Sanders and guard Gene Hickerson.

Inductions will be Aug. 4-5 in Canton, Ohio. The Steelers and Saints will play in the annual Hall of Fame game.

Also failing to get enough votes were Art Monk, Derrick Thomas, Andre Reed, Richard Dent, Bob Kuechenberg, Fred Dean, Ray Guy, Russ Grimm, Andre Tippett and Gary Zimmerman. Thomas was a Kansas City Chiefs linebacker.

Irvin finished his career with 750 receptions for 11,904 yards and 65 touchdowns. He was selected to five straight Pro Bowls and picked for the NFL's all-decade team of the 1990s.

"It's such a great honor," he said. "It's an honor you cannot reach without playing on a bunch of great football teams and playing with some great guys. I started out playing here in Fort Lauderdale. ... I played college up the street at the University of Miami. I was blessed also to play with the Dallas Cowboys.

"You can't play at three better stops than that," he said.

Irvin thanked Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and referred to Aikman as "my very favorite, my quarterback, Troy Aikman ... he's always in my corner and I thank him for being in my corner all the time."

Thomas was the league's most valuable player in 1991, when he gained more than 2,000 yards from scrimmage. When he retired in 2,000, he ranked sixth all-time in career yards from scrimmage (16,532), including 12,074 yards rushing.

He joins Jim Kelly, who made the Hall of Fame in 2002, from the Buffalo teams that won four straight AFC titles before losing in each Super Bowl.

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