Tony Boselli and Richard Seymour to headline 2022 Pro Football Hall of Fame: ‘Football heaven opens’


Wide receiver Cliff Branch, offensive tackle Tony Boselli and defensive lineman Richard Seymour headlined the Class of 2022 inductees into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday. Linebacker Sam Mills, safety LeRoy Butler, defensive lineman Bryant Young, coach Dick Vermeil and official Art McNally rounded out the eight-man class.

This year’s class is unique in that it does not include any first-time eligible players, while every modern-day inductee has waited no less than five years and up to 20 years to be elected.

Butler, who played 12 seasons with the Green Bay Packers and won a Super Bowl in 1996, spoke first at the induction ceremony.

“When you play for the Green Bay Packers, a lot of doors open,” Butler said. “When you win a Super Bowl, all doors open. But when you enter the Hall of Fame, football heaven opens.

Butler’s 38 interceptions rank fourth in Packers history and he has earned four first-team All-Pro selections in his career.

Boselli was the first player to be drafted by the Jacksonville Jaguars with the No. 2 pick in 1995. On Saturday, he became the first player in franchise history to be signed to Canton. He went to five straight Pro Bowls from 1996-2000 and was a first-team All-Pro three times. The offensive tackle played just 91 games in seven NFL seasons due to injury, but helped Jacksonville qualify for the AFC championships in 1996 and 1999.

Mills won five Pro Bowls during a 12-year career with the New Orleans Saints and Carolina Panthers. The linebacker has seven seasons of 100+ tackles combined.

In 2005, Mills died of cancer at the age of 45. It was his last year on the Modern Era ballot. Mills’ wife, Melanie, paid a moving tribute to him at Saturday’s ceremony and quoted his famous phrase “keep beating,” which became the Panthers’ official slogan.

“Thank you for this honor, for believing in Sam and for helping to keep his story alive,” Melanie Mills said. “Keep fighting, everyone. That’s what Sam would have you do.

Seymour was an integral part of three Super Bowl championship teams with the New England Patriots, earning three consecutive first-team All-Pro selections from 2003-2005 and finishing second in Defensive Player of the Year voting in 2003. He recorded 57 1/2 sacks over a 12-year career with New England and the Oakland Raiders.

Branch helped lead the Raiders to three Super Bowl appearances – XI, XV and XVIII – with a win in each. He was a first-team All-Pro three times (1974-76) and was voted to four Pro Bowls (1975-77, 1978).

Young recorded 89 1/2 sacks in 14 seasons with the San Francisco 49ers, playing a key role as a rookie on San Francisco’s Super Bowl team in 1994. He was a first-team All Pro in 1996 when he recorded a career-high 11 1/2 sacks.

Vermeil led the Philadelphia Eagles to an NFC title in 1980 and a Super Bowl XV appearance and walked away from the team after the 1982 season. The Rams hired him in 1997 and won the Super Bowl XXXIV with “The Greatest Show on Turf” in 1999. He collected an overall record of 126-114-0.

The “Father of Instant Replay”, McNally introduced the system to the NFL through his leadership and Instant Replay became an accepted part of the game that spread to every major sport in America. He became the first official in NFL history to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.


Pro Football Hall of Fame: Meet the 2022 inductees

To learn more about the 2022 induction ceremony, follow Athleticismlive blog from Saturday’s festivities.

(Photo by Richard Seymour: Kirby Lee/USA Today)


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