Pro Football Hall of Fame To Enshrine Seven In Class Of 2024

Seven of the “Greatest of the Game” have been elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2024. The Hall’s 50-person Selection Committee met virtually in January to conduct the annual vote.

The Class of 2024 presented by Visual Edge IT was announced during “NFL Honors,” a two-hour primetime awards special that aired nationally tonight on NFL Network and CBS and streamed on Paramount. The newest members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame are defensive end/outside linebacker DWIGHT FREENEY, linebacker RANDY GRADISHAR, kick returner/punt returner/wide receiver DEVIN HESTER, wide receiver ANDRE JOHNSON, defensive tackle/nose tackle STEVE McMICHAEL, defensive end/linebacker JULIUS PEPPERS and linebacker PATRICK WILLIS.

Freeney, Gradishar, Hester, Johnson, Peppers and Willis learned of their election when another Hall of Famer knocked on their door. McMichael and his wife, Misty, received the news in a phone call from his former Bears teammate RICHARD DENT. Those encounters can be seen Saturday, when NFL Network airs a one-hour special beginning at 9 p.m. ET.

The annual selection meeting capped the year-round selection process. The newly elected Hall of Famers were chosen from a list of 19 Finalists who had been determined earlier by the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Selection Committee. 

The Hall of Fame’s membership, including the newly elected class, now stands at 378.

The Class of 2024 presented by Visual Edge IT will be enshrined Saturday, Aug. 3, at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton.

PRO FOOTBALL HALL OF FAME CLASS OF 2024

DWIGHT FREENEY

Times as Finalist: 2 | Year of Eligibility: 2
Position: Defensive End/Outside Linebacker

Ht: 6-1, Wt: 268

NFL Career: 2002-2012 Indianapolis Colts, 2013-14 San Diego Chargers,

2015 Arizona Cardinals, 2016 Atlanta Falcons, 2017 Seattle Seahawks, 2017 Detroit Lions

Seasons: 16, Games: 218

College: Syracuse

Drafted: First round (11th Overall), 2002

Born: Feb. 19, 1980, in Hartford, Conn.

 

Drafted in first round (11th overall) of 2002 NFL Draft after leading the nation in sacks (17.5) his senior season at Syracuse … Named Co-Big East Defensive Player of the Year while earning All-American recognition … Ran a 4.48-second 40-yard dash in pre-draft workouts … Selected to 2002 NFL All-Rookie Team after recording 13 sacks and 20 tackles for loss … Seven Pro Bowl selections … AP first-team All-Pro in 2004, 2005 and 2009; second-team All-Pro in 2003 … Named All-AFC by PFWA 2003-05 and 2009-2010 … Secured NFL Sack Title with 16 in 2004 … Member of the Colts’ Super Bowl XLI championship team and played in two additional Super Bowls (XLIV, LI) … Played in 218 regular-season games over 16 seasons in NFL … Career stat totals: 125.5 sacks, 148 quarterback hits and 128 tackles for loss … Credited with 47 forced fumbles (tied for third on the NFL’s all-time list) and forced three fumbles in a game on two occasions.

RANDY GRADISHAR

Times as Finalist: 4 | Year of eligibility: 35
Position: Linebacker
Height: 6-3 | Weight: 233
NFL career: 1974-1983 Denver Broncos
Seasons: 10 | Games: 145
College: Ohio State
Drafted: First round (14th overall), 1974
Born: March 3, 1952, in Warren, Ohio

Unanimous All-America selection at Ohio State in 1973 … Broncos’ first-round pick, 1974 (14th overall) … Led Denver in total tackles nine consecutive seasons, 1975-1983 … Played in 145 regular-season games during 10 NFL seasons … Member of famed “Orange Crush” defensive unit of 1970s and 1980s … Named 1978 AP NFL Defensive MVP/Player of the Year … Played in Super Bowl XII, recording eight tackles … First-team All-Pro twice (1977-78), second-team three times (1979, 1981, 1983) … Played in seven Pro Bowls (1975, 1977-79, 1981-83) … Unofficial 2,049 career tackles are most in Broncos history and were most in league history at the time of his retirement … One of 10 linebackers in league history – all Hall of Famers – with at least seven Pro Bowls, 20 interceptions and 10 fumble recoveries … Inducted into College Football Hall of Fame in 1998 … Member of Denver Broncos Ring of Fame. 

DEVIN HESTER

Times as Finalist: 3 | Year of Eligibility: 3
Position: Punt Returner/Kick Returner/Wide Receiver

Ht: 5-11, Wt: 190

NFL Career: 2006-2013 Chicago Bears, 2014-15 Atlanta Falcons,

2016 Baltimore Ravens, 2016 Seattle Seahawks

Seasons: 11, Games: 156

College: Miami (Florida)

Drafted: Second round (57th Overall), 2006

Born: Nov. 4, 1982, in Riviera Beach, Fla.

Multi-dimensional player who joined Bears after collegiate career as offensive, defensive and special teams threat … Became immediate standout as return specialist, earning spot on 2006 NFL All-Rookie Team … In debut season, returned 47 punts for 600 yards (both NFL highs) and three TDs, along with 20 kickoffs for 528 yards and two touchdowns … Also returned a missed field goal that season for a 108-yard touchdown – one of only four such “kick-six” scores of that distance in an NFL game. … Opened Super Bowl XLI with 92-yard kickoff return for a touchdown – the only time in Super Bowl history that has occurred … In second NFL season, returned four punts and two kickoffs for scores, establishing an NFL record for six combined kick returns for TDs … First-team All-Pro three times (2006-07, 2010) … Member of the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 2010s … One of two return specialists on the NFL 100 All-Time Team. 

ANDRE JOHNSON

Times as Finalist: 3 | Year of Eligibility: 3
Position: Wide Receiver

Ht: 6-3, Wt: 229

NFL Career: 2003-2014 Houston Texans, 2015 Indianapolis Colts, 2016 Tennessee Titans

Seasons: 14, Games: 193

College: Miami (Florida)

Drafted: First round (third overall), 2003

Born: July 11, 1981, in Miami

Surpassed 1,000 receiving yards seven times (2004, 2006, 2008-2010, 2012-13) … Led NFL in receptions twice (103 in 2006 and 115 in 2008) and in receiving yards twice (1,575 yards in 2008 and 1,569 yards in 2009) … One of only three players (Jerry Rice, Calvin Johnson) to lead NFL in receiving yards in consecutive seasons in Super Bowl era … Finished career with 1,062 receptions for 14,185 yards and 70 receiving touchdowns … Texans franchise leader in most receiving statistics … Caught five passes for 90 yards and a touchdown as Texans beat Cincinnati in first playoff appearance (2011); followed the next week with eight receptions for 111 yards in narrow loss to Ravens … Three career games with 200+ receiving yards … First-team All-Pro twice (2008-09) … Selected to seven Pro Bowls (2004, 2006, 2008-10, 2012-13) … Member of 2003 NFL All-Rookie Team … First player elected to Texans’ Ring of Honor (2017).

STEVE McMICHAEL

Times as Finalist: 1 | Year of eligibility: 29
Position: Defensive Tackle/Nose Tackle
Height: 6-2 | Weight: 270
NFL career: 1980 New England Patriots,

1981-1993 Chicago Bears, 1994 Green Bay Packers
Seasons: 15 | Games: 213
College: Texas
Drafted: Third round (73rd overall), 1980
Born: Oct. 17, 1957, in Houston

Selected by New England in third round (73rd overall) of 1980 NFL Draft out of the University of Texas … Signed with Chicago in 1981 after being released by Patriots … Started franchise-record 191 consecutive games for  Bears in 13 seasons … Finished career with most tackles (814) and most sacks (92.5) in Bears history … Twice led Chicago in sacks: 1988, 1992 … Member of Bears’ defenses that allowed the fewest points, rushing yards and total yards in the NFL from 1982-1991 … Played in 14 career playoff games, making 11 starts … Won Super Bowl XX with Bears over Patriots, started at left defensive tackle and recorded a sack … Forced 13 fumbles, recovered 17 and had three safeties in 15 total seasons … Earned first-team All-Pro three times (1985-87) … Two Pro Bowl nods (1988, 1989)

JULIUS PEPPERS

Times as Finalist: 1 | Year of Eligibility: 1
Position: Defensive End/Outside linebacker

Ht: 6-7, Wt: 295

NFL Career: 2002-09, 2017-18 Carolina Panthers,

2010-13 Chicago Bears, 2014-16 Green Bay Packers

Seasons: 17, Games: 266

College: North Carolina

Drafted: First round (second overall), 2002

Born: Jan. 18, 1980, in Wilson N.C. 

Dominant defensive end who finished career fourth on all-time sacks list with 159.5 … Only player in NFL history with at least 100 sacks and 10 or more interceptions … Second all-time with 52 career forced fumbles … At the time of retirement, ranked sixth all-time among defensive players with 266 games played … Carolina Panthers franchise leader in sacks (97), forced fumbles (34) and blocked field goals (eight) … One of four players to record 10 seasons with 10-plus sacks, other three are Hall of Famers … Named 2002 AP Defensive Rookie of the Year by AP and PFWA … Led league with 18 tackles for loss in 2006 … Totaled 719 tackles, 175 tackles for loss, 186 quarterback hits … Voted to nine Pro Bowls … Three time first-team All-Pro, three times on second team … Member of the NFL’s All-Decade Team of both the 2000s and 2010s.

PATRICK WILLIS

Times as Finalist: 2 | Year of Eligibility: 5
Position: Linebacker

Ht: 6-1, Wt: 242

NFL Career: 2007-2014 San Francisco 49ers

Seasons: 8, Games: 112

College: Mississippi

Drafted: First round (11th Overall), 2007

Born: Jan. 25, 1985, in Bruceton, Tenn.

Immediate starter for 49ers after joining team as 11th overall selection in 2007 NFL Draft … Totaled 174 tackles, four sacks, seven QB hits and eight tackles for loss in earning 2007 AP Defensive Rookie of the Year Award … Named first-team All-Pro five times in eight NFL seasons (2007, 2009, 2010-12) … Selected to Pro Bowl following seven consecutive seasons (2007-2013) … Won NFL’s version of the Butkus Award (then in its second year) in 2009, following his best season statistically overall: 152 tackles, four sacks, three forced fumbles, eight pass deflections and career-bests of three interceptions and 13 tackles for loss … Won the Bill Walsh Award in 2009 as the 49ers’ most valuable player … Contributed 10 tackles in Super Bowl XLVII loss to Baltimore Ravens … Career stats include 20.5 sacks, 60 tackles for loss, eight interceptions and 16 forced fumbles. … Named to the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 2010s.