CANTON, Ohio (AP) – The latest from the Pro Football Hall of Fame inductions (all times local):
Morten Andersen, the NFL’s career scoring leader, became just the second placekicker inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday night.
Andersen played an incredible 25 pro seasons, a league record, mostly for the Saints. He also was with the Falcons, Giants, Chiefs and Vikings, playing 382 total games.
The left-footed kicker from Denmark – his selection in February set off celebrations back home, where American football hardly is a sports staple – scored 2,544 points (565 field goals, 849 extra points). He is the all-time scoring leader for both New Orleans and Atlanta and was a five-time All-Pro.
A member of the NFL’s 1980s and ’90s All-Decade Teams, Andersen retired in 2004 with 40 field goals of 50 yards or longer, then an NFL mark. He joined Jan Stenerud as the only placekickers in the hall, and paid tribute to Stenerud as a trail blazer.
Andersen was presented for induction by his son, Sebastian. A soccer and team handball player back home, Andersen then delivered an often hilarious speech emphasizing how strange the adjustment to kicking a ball that was not round could be.
He also paid homage to his two homes.
“Good evening, Canton, Ohio,” he began. “Good morning Denmark.
“My story isn’t only about my love for my country of Denmark and its people,” he said, “but also my deep appreciation and respect for what I discovered here in the United States of America.”
Sackmaster Jason Taylor, elected in his first year of eligibility, was inducted Saturday night into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
A star mostly with Miami, Taylor also spent one season with the Redskins and one with the Jets. In his 15 NFL seasons, the versatile end was a three-time All-Pro and the 2006 Defensive Player of the Year. He had 13 1/2 sacks, two interceptions returned for touchdowns, 11 passes defensed, 10 forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and 62 tackles that season.
Taylor’s 139 1/2 career sacks helped him make the All-Decade Team of the 2000s. He also was the NFL’s Man of the Year in 2007.
A third-round draft pick from Akron – just down the road from the Hall of Fame – Taylor was presented for induction by Jimmy Johnson, who coached him for several years with the Dolphins.
“I honestly can’t believe I am here,” said Taylor, who kissed the shaved head atop his bust when it was unveiled. “In 1992 I was at the University of Akron, just 20 miles away. It took 20 years to travel 20 miles to put on this jacket. It was worth every step.”
Taylor choked up several times, especially when talking about the late Gary Wichard, who was his agent and, Taylor said, “truly the father I never had.”
Kenny Easley, a hard-hitting safety for the Seahawks and a member of the 1980s All-Decade Team, was inducted Saturday night into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
A seniors committee choice, Easley played only seven seasons and 89 games for Seattle. But what an impact he made as an intimidator and ballhawk.
The 1981 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, Easley was the league’s top overall defender in 1984 when he had a league-leading 10 interceptions, a career high.
Easley, who was presented for induction by his high school coach, Tommy Rhodes, retired after the 1987 season. He had to wait 24 years before being voted into the hall.
“I was first nominated for the hall in 1997,” Easley said. “Twenty years later – be anxious for nothing – the Hall of Fame was dropped on the shoulders of Kenny Easley like a pair of shoulder pads. Some folks said I deserved to be in the hall earlier; I don’t believe that. Others say he didn’t play long enough, I don’t believe that.”
Easley concluded a politically and religiously toned speech by saying: “I thank you for welcoming me into your exclusive club.”
The Pro Football Hall of Fame has opened a display honoring NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” for its record six consecutive seasons as the top-rated show in prime time.
The centerpiece of the display describes how the program debuted in September 2006 and soon became a huge TV hit. Five years after the series launch, SNF averaged more than 21 million viewers, becoming the first sports series to rank as the prime-time leader for a full TV season (2011-12). It has remained on top since.
“The Pro Football Hall of Fame celebrates excellence everywhere,” Hall of Fame President David Baker said. “We are excited to recognize NBC ‘Sunday Night Football’ for its tremendous presentation of our great game to more than 20 million Americans each week, and its record run as the No. 1 show in all of prime-time television.”
Among the items on display is the Sports Emmy for outstanding live sports series won by “Sunday Night Football” for the 2015 NFL season.
Also on view are:
-The spotting board for the 2015 Super Bowl won by New England over Seattle, which is the most-watched program in U.S. TV history (114.4 million viewers).
-Carrie Underwood’s dress, shoes, and jewelry from the 2017 show opening.
-A highlight reel chronicling memorable moments in the history of the series.
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