Football Hall of Fame Inducts Seven
Wednesday, January 31st 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) â€” The wait turned out to be worthwhile for Lynn Swann and Ron Yary, both elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday in their 14th year of eligibility.
``You just don't know what it means to be up here after 14 years,'' said Swann, an integral part of the Pittsburgh Steelers team that won four Super Bowls in six years. ``I've seen people cry and I always said if it happened to me I wouldn't cry. Well, I cried all the way over here.''
Also picked were coach Marv Levy, who took the Buffalo Bills to four straight Super Bowls; offensive linemen Jackie Slater and Mike Munchak; defensive end Jack Youngblood; and oldtimers nominee Nick Buoniconti.
Swann becomes the 11th member of the Steelers dynasty of the 1970s to be elected to the Hall of Fame. He put his personal stamp on that run of championships when he was the MVP of the 1976 Super Bowl, catching four passes for 161 yards, including a 64-yarder for the game-winning touchdown.
For his career, he had 336 receptions for 5,462 yards and 51 touchdowns. Still, he kept being passed over by the 38-member Hall of Fame Selection Committee, which meets on the eve of the Super Bowl.
``I thought it was not going to happen for me again this year,'' Swann said. ``I told my wife not to be too down. Then I heard my name and tried to take a deep breath. But I just started crying.''
Yary played 15 seasons at offensive guard, the first 14 with the Minnesota Vikings, where he blocked for scrambling quarterback Fran Tarkenton.
``He scrambled only because my guy ran around me and chased him out of the pocket,'' said Yary, who was picked for seven Pro Bowls and played 207 games.
Levy's Bills won four straight AFC championships, but lost each of the Super Bowls, the first to the New York Giants, then to Washington and twice to Dallas. No other team has appeared in four straight Super Bowls.
His election came on the 10th anniversary of the first loss in the last Super Bowl played in Tampa.
``It's great to have something to celebrate on a Super Bowl weekend,'' Levy said with a laugh.
Youngblood, who played 14 seasons for the Los Angeles Rams, became a symbol of toughness in the 1979 playoffs. He fractured his left leg in the first round, but was fitted with a plastic brace and played every defensive down in both the NFC championship game and the Super Bowl.
``I played poorly,'' he said of the episode. ``I couldn't dominate the way you want to.''
But Slater, sitting nearby, interrupted by saying, ``He might not feel he played well, but there was no way we could win that (NFC championship) game without Jack Youngblood.''
Munchak played 12 seasons at offensive guard for the Houston Oilers, reaching the Pro Bowl nine times. He was the key to a line that kept the Oilers at or near the top of the NFL offensive statistical categories, including total offense in 1990 and passing offense in 1990 and 1991.
``It's an amazing honor, something you can only dream about,'' he said. ``Just being part of the final 15 was an amazing honor.''
Buoniconti was elected as the oldtimers candidate, a category reserved for players who completed at least 70 percent of their careers by 1976. He was a linebacker on Miami's No-Name defense and a centerpiece of the Dolphins team that went 17-0 in the 1972-73 season.
Buoniconti was accompanied by Don Shula, who coached that team. ``I needed a baby-sitter,'' he said.
``I'm grateful to have played on a Miami Dolphins team that lost six games in three years and had a defense that was second to none in the history of the game. When I go to Canton, I won't be representing Nick Buoniconti, but a No-Name defense that had a lot of names on it.''
He is the first of the No-Names to be elected to the Hall of Fame, but the seventh member of that Miami team to be honored.
Slater, who played 259 games in 20 seasons with the Rams in Los Angeles and St. Louis, was the last name announced, nearly overlooked by Hall of Fame executive director John Bankert, who dropped the envelope with Slater's name.
``When he said that was the Class of 2001, I thought I would have get them next year,'' he said. ``But then I heard someone else say that was only six and I heard someone else say my name and I said, `All right!'''
Each of those elected received 80 percent of the vote from the Selection Committee.
Eight other finalists â€” Harry Carson, Dave Casper, Dan Hampton, Lester Hayes, Art Monk, Bill Parcells, John Stallworth and Ralph Wilson â€” failed to receive the necessary votes.