2022 Pro Football Hall of Fame Induction Takeaway: Tony Boselli is honored as Jaeger for the first time, and Dick Vermeil is grateful


CANTON, Ohio — The Pro Football Hall of Fame welcomed eight new members to Football Immortality Saturday afternoon. The ceremony, held inside the Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium, included memorable speeches, tributes, highlights and some tears from the men who received bronze busts and gold jackets.

This year’s class includes offensive tackle Tony Boselli, catcher Cliff Branch, safety Leroy Butler, linebacker Sam Mills, defensive linebacker Richard Seymour and Boo Ryante Young, coach Dick Vermeer and official Art McNally. Boseli is the first Jaguars player to receive a Hall of Fame jacket. Like Boselli, Mills represented a team — the Carolina Panthers — that broke into the league in 1995. Blanche, Butler, Seymour, Young and Vermeer came to Canton with nine Super Bowl rings. McNally was selected during his illustrious career, which included credit for creating instant replays.

Here are the main highlights of today’s ceremony, starting with one of the most popular Packers in franchise history.

LeRoy enters Guangzhou

A superb safety for the Packers, Butler was credited with making his first “Rambo leap” in 1993. His versatility helped the Packers beat the Patriots in Super Bowl 31, Green Bay’s first championship in 29 years. Butler began his speech in a unique way. He quoted musician DJ Khaled, which was a hit with the crowd.

Later in the presentation, Butler mentioned his former Packers coach Mike Holmgren, a finalist in next year’s class.

Mills keeps hitting

Posthumously, Mills anchored the Saints’ Dome Patrol defense before helping lead the Panthers to the NFC Championship Game in 1996. That season, the 37-year-old linebacker became the oldest player ever to be named to the Pro Bowl. Mills’ mantra was “Keep pounding,” a battle cry the Panthers still use to this day.

Former Saints coach Jim Mora served as one of Mills’ hosts. Mora shared his memory of seeing the 5-foot-9 Mills break the crowd during his rookie season. Mora admitted that he was terrified of Mills, and moments later saw him tackle a blocker weighing at least 100 pounds.

“I coached the Saints for nine years,” Mora said. “In my opinion, he’s never short again.”

Mills’ acceptance speech was delivered by his wife, Melanie, who provided insight into those who Mills was not on the field.

“Sam treats everyone with the respect and dignity they deserve,” she said. “He’ll ask about your day and he’ll listen because he cares.

“Keep up the good work, because that’s what Sam wants you to do.”

Seymour praises Bill Belichick for letting HOF push Robert Kraft

An integral member of the early Patriots’ 2000s dynasty, Seymour was Bill Belichick’s first Hall of Famer selection.

“You’re the best coach in the game,” Seymour said of Belichick. “Thank you for everything you taught me.”

Seymour also paid tribute to Patriots owner Robert Kraft, a finalist at the 2023 Hall of Fame class. Seymour said Kraft fosters a culture of selflessness centered on team success.

“You’re going to grace the stage too,” Seymour said to Kraft, who was seated in the audience.

Seymour follows former New England teammates Ty Law, Randy Moss and Junior Seau in Canton. More Patriots, including former New England QB Tom Brady, are sure to follow suit.

“We have a young quarterback,” Seymour said of Brady when discussing the Patriots in the early 2000s. “But we made it work.”

McNally makes history

Known as the founder of the modern referee, McNally served 48 years as an official in the NFL, including success as an overseer for league officials. He was the first former official in Guangzhou to worship.

McNally, who watched the ceremony at home, recorded an acceptance speech that included his thanks to NFL officials. He also joked that officials usually don’t want any attention, but today was an obvious exception.

“I think that’s the best thing for an officer to do: do a good job – hopefully no one knows you’re around – to make calls the right way, and they should have a lot of common sense.”

“QB” Tony Boselli

One of the best tackles in league history, Boseli shared that he had other football ambitions during his childhood.

“I want to be a quarterback in the NFL,” said Boselli, who especially wants to play QB for the Broncos. That dream soon came to an end, as Boselli was moved to junior varsity tight end and college water boy.

“But I’m a damn good water boy,” Boselli said with a laugh.

During his Hall of Fame career in high school, USC and the Jaguars, Boseli didn’t provide water, but lunch for opposing guards.

Although he wasn’t drafted at quarterback, Poselli’s QB in Jacksonville, Mark Brunel, be his host.

“He wants to absolutely dominate the opponent,” Brunel said of Boseli. “He’s a fierce contender and he’s not going to make anyone a quarterback. He makes us all better.”

Boseli is very proud to be the first Jaguars player to be enshrined in Canton. He pushed former teammates Fred Taylor, Jimmy Smith and Tom Coughlin to join Canton.

Young pays tribute to his late son

During the speech, Bryant Young talked about his son Colby, who died in 2016 after a brave battle with cancer. Yang held back his emotions as he spoke to his son.

“Colby, you live in our hearts,” Young said. “We will always say your name.”

Young’s path to the Hall of Fame hit a major crossroads in 1998. Then in his fifth season with the 49ers, Young suffered a serious, career-threatening leg injury. Despite the serious injury, Young persevered and played nine more seasons. He was named to the Pro Bowl in 1999, one year after the injury. A member of the best team of the decade in the 1990s, Young helped the 49ers win their fifth Super Bowl in his rookie season.

“I’ve worn the gold medal proudly my entire career,” said Young, who played for Notre Dame before the 49ers. “I will treasure this jacket for the rest of my life.”

Branch brings speed to Guangzhou

Blanche became the seventh player to be loaded into Canton on the Raiders’ offense in 1974, an NFL record for a single unit. Blanche, who died in 2019, was a key member of all three of the Raiders’ Super Bowl-winning teams. His unrivaled speed helped him earn all of the Decade Team honors in the 1970s.

Branch’s sister Elaine Anderson gave his induction speech. Raiders owner Mark Davis, who also hosted Blanche, called him “my best friend.”

“When it’s not God, you can’t force it,” Anderson said in her speech. “When it’s God’s time, you can’t stop it.

“Clifford was put off, but not denied.”

Branch teammate and Hall of Famer Fred Biletnikoff was in attendance to celebrate Branch’s induction.

“The lord has finally picked up some speed,” Biletnikov said before Blanche’s induction.

Dick Vermeil praises the induction of others

Few coaches are so good at turning losing teams into winners. Vermeil ended Philly’s 12-year playoff drought before leading the team to its first Super Bowl. After a long absence from coaching, Vermeer led the Rams — a team that lost more games than any other team in the ’90s — to an unforgettable Super Bowl in 1999 Contest. He then led Kansas City to end the Chiefs’ seven-time playoff drought. 2003 13-3 season.

Instead of celebrating himself, Vermeil thanked everyone who helped him get his gold jacket. He specifically mentioned the player whose tackle at the end of the biggest win helped him get inducted into the Hall of Fame.

“I wouldn’t be here if Mike Jones didn’t make a tackle at the end of Super Bowl XXXIV,” Vermeer said. “I will always be grateful to all of you.”

A former high school coach, Vermeil points to high school team members he coached more than 60 years ago.

“I still call them children, they are in their seventies today,” he said.

Vermeil also pointed to Torry Holt, a member of the Rams’ “greatest lawn show.” Vermeil announced that Holt would one day join him in Canton with former Rams Kurt Warner, Marshall Faulk, Orlando Pace and Isaac Bruce.

From his Eagles days, Vermeer paid tribute to Wilbert Montgomery and John Bunting, both former players who later coached under Vermeer. Vermeil also thanked Eagles fans near and far who supported him. He thanked current Chiefs coach Andy Reid for traveling to Canton to congratulate Vermeer despite being in training camp.

Vermeil was a famous weeper who didn’t cry until he talked about his wife Carol. He deliberately waited until the end of the speech to praise his wife of 66 years, knowing that he would cry.





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