Sanders among 7 to get HOF nod

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, Last Updated: 9:46 AM ET

Dallas, TX - Seven new members were elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday, including modern-era players Deion Sanders, Marshall Faulk, Richard Dent and Shannon Sharpe and NFL Films founder Ed Sabol.

Also getting the nod were linebackers Chris Hanburger and Les Richter, who were elected as senior nominees.

Sanders and Faulk were elected in their first year of eligibility, while fellow first-ballot players Jerome Bettis, Curtis Martin and Willie Roaf were snubbed.

Dent and Sharpe were the only selections among a group of nine players who had appeared on the ballot before. Missing out again were Tim Brown, Cris Carter, Dermontti Dawson, Chris Doleman, Charles Haley, Cortez Kennedy and Andre Reed.

Sabol was on the ballot as a contributor for his role in creating the iconic production company.

The selection process took nearly 7 1/2 hours as a 44-member committee whittled the list of modern-day candidates from 15 down to 10. Knocked out during that first vote were Bettis, Brown, Carter, Haley and Doleman.

Another round halved the list to five candidates -- Sanders, Faulk, Dent, Sharpe and Sabol, who were all selected with at least 80 percent of the vote.

The seven new members were announced during a ceremony at the Super Bowl media center in Dallas, one day ahead of the game between Pittsburgh and Green Bay.

"The best thing that can happen when you're done (playing the game)," Faulk said of the honor.

He and Sanders were likely choices for induction -- influential and revered at their positions, and with statistics to match the admiration.

Flashy and bombastic as a player, Sanders is considered one of the best cover cornerbacks in NFL history and was also feared as a punt returner.

In 14 seasons with the Falcons, 49ers, Cowboys, Redskins and Ravens, Sanders was an eight-time Pro Bowl pick, a nine-time All-Pro and a member of the NFL's All-Decade Team of the 1990s as both a cornerback and punt returner. He finished with 53 career interceptions, returning nine for touchdowns, and retired with the second-most interception return yardage in league history (1,331).

His numbers would have been even better had he not retired from 2001-03.

"He was an electrifying performer who put fans on the edge of their seats every time he manned his cornerback position or dropped back to receive a kickoff or field a punt," said Falcons owner and chief executive Arthur M. Blank.

Faulk was a classic multi-purpose back. Equally dangerous as a runner and a pass catcher in his 12 seasons with the Colts and Rams, he earned the league's MVP award in 2000 with the Rams.

A seven-time Pro Bowl selection, Faulk finished his career with 12,279 rushing yards and 767 receptions for 6,875 yards. He was the first player in NFL history with four straight seasons of 2,000 yards from scrimmage and won a Super Bowl with St. Louis after the 1999 season.

"For us, he was a difference maker," former Rams head coach Dick Vermeil said in a statement. "I am not talking about the difference between winning six games or seven games. I'm talking about the difference between winning a NFC Championship or a world championship. Without him, you probably don't do it."

Dent, Chicago's all-time sacks leader, played 15 years with the Bears, 49ers, Colts and Eagles. He appeared in four Pro Bowls and was the Super Bowl XX MVP in Chicago's 46-10 rout of New England.

In two stints spanning 12 years with the Bears, Dent recorded a franchise record 124 1/2 sacks. Dent moved on from the Bears to play a total of 15 years in the NFL, earning a Super Bowl ring with San Francisco in 1994 before finishing his career with single seasons with Indianapolis in 1996 and Philadelphia in 1997. He had 137 1/2 sacks overall.

Sharpe played 14 years with Denver and Baltimore from 1990-2003, winning two Super Bowl titles with the Broncos and another with the Ravens. At the time of his retirement, the eight-time Pro Bowl choice held tight end records with 815 receptions, 10,060 yards and 62 touchdowns.

Sabol, who is 95, sold overcoats in Philadelphia before successfully bidding $3,000 to film the 1962 NFL Championship Game at Yankee Stadium. Two years later, he convinced the league that it needed its own production company, leading to NFL Films.

The company thanked Sabol in a statement for his "leadership and vision in creating a place where football lives forever."

Hanburger was a linebacker for 14 years with the Redskins from 1965-78 and was a nine-time Pro Bowl choice, helping the Redskins to their first Super Bowl appearance after the 1972 season. He earned the nickname "The Hangman" for tackling players high.

Richter, a linebacker with the Los Angeles Rams from 1954-62, earned Pro Bowl nods in each of his first eight seasons. He died in June 2010.


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