The Kansas City Chiefs have answered, going up 7-3 on a one-yard quarterback sneak from Patrick Mahomes after the NFC champion San Francisco 49ers scored a field goal on their opening drive of Super Bowl LIV in Miami Gardens, Florida on Sunday.
Mahomes’s touchdown capped a 15-play, 75-yard drive that nearly ended when he fumbled on the 49ers’ three-yard line. However, the ball went out of bounds, which set up a fourth down. Fortunately for Kansas City, running back Damien Williams was able to keep the drive going with a one-yard run for a first down, and three plays later, Mahomes found his way into the end zone.
Mahomes and the Chiefs offense did not get off to an encouraging start, though, going three and out on the game’s opening drive before punting down to San Francisco’s 18-yard line.
Niners receiver Deebo Samuel responded with a pair of long runs totaling 39 yards on the 49ers’ first drive, to push deep into Chiefs’ territory.
San Francisco’s offense was ultimately stopped on a third and five from Kansas City’s 20-yard line and settled for a 38-yard field goal by Robbie Gould and an early 3-0 lead.
The Chiefs have now given up the first score in all three of their playoff games this season.
The San Francisco 49ers have struck first in Super Bowl LIV, as quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and wide receiver Sunday marks the 49ers’ first Super Bowl appearance since the 2012 season, when then-quarterback Colin Kaepernick and five-time champion San Francisco fell to the Baltimore Ravens.
The Chiefs, meanwhile, are playing in just their third Super Bowl and their first in fifty years, when they upset the Minnesota Vikings in New Orleans. Kansas City is in search of its second Lomardi Trophy on Sunday, having lost Super Bowl I to the Green Bary Packers.
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Kansas City Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes celebrates scoring their first touchdown with teammates
49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel recorded a pair of long runs totaling 39 yards on the 49ers’ first drive
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) pitches the ball to running back Damien Williams in the first quarter against the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl LIV at Hard Rock Stadium
Deebo Samuel #19 of the 49ers reacts prior to Super Bowl LIV against the Kansas City Chiefs at Hard Rock Stadium
San Francisco 49ers tight end Greg Kittle looks upfield after a first quarter reception
The teams line up during the tribute to Kobe Bryant and former Minnesota Vikings Hall of Famer, Chris Doleman
San Francisco’s Richard Sherman showed up for the Super Bowl in a Bryant jersey, the start of numerous honors dedicated to the basketball legend on football´s biggest day. Among them: Players from the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers lined up for a moment of silence to commemorate all nine victims of last weekend´s helicopter crash, including Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna.
The teams stood on their respective 24-yard lines – in tribute to Bryant’s No. 24 jersey. Some fans at the game wore Lakers jerseys, and a few even had Bryant´s Lower Merion High School jersey.
‘Ladies and gentlemen, please join in a moment of silence as the 49ers, Chiefs, and National Football League extend our deepest condolences to the friends and families of those lost this past week. … They will never be forgotten,’ was the message that blared through Hard Rock Stadium.
As that announcement was being made, two of the stadium´s four video screens showed an image of Bryant and the names of the other eight victims of the crash. The other two video screens showed an image of longtime Minnesota Vikings star and Pro Football Hall of Famer Chris Doleman, who also died last week.
Sherman also appeared on Fox´s pregame show to read a poem called ‘Dear Football’ – adapting most of what he said from Bryant´s ‘Dear Basketball’ poem that he penned as a way of announcing that the 2015-16 season would be his last with the Lakers and in the NBA.
‘I played through the sweat and hurt. Not because challenge called me. But because YOU called me,’ Sherman read, copying Bryant´s words exactly in that particular passage. ‘I did everything for YOU. Because that´s what you do when someone makes you feel as alive as you´ve made me feel.’
During warmups at the Super Bowl, plenty of players wore cleats designed with various tributes to Bryant. San Francisco´s Dante Pettis had purple-and-gold ones with the words ‘Mamba Out’ – the final two words of Bryant´s retirement speech following his 60-point farewell game in 2016 – emblazoned on the sides. The 49ers´ Emmanuel Sanders wore a pair with the words ‘Rest In Peace’ and Kansas City´s Demarcus Robinson had images of Bryant and his number 24 on his cleats.
Players from the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers lined up for a moment of silence to commemorate all nine victims of last weekend´s helicopter crash, including Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna
San Francisco 49ers waits to take the field prior to Super Bowl LIV against the Kansas City Chiefs
San Francisco 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo (left) and Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes (right) warm up before Super Bowl LIV
Security personnel tackle a woman who tried to run onto the field during the first half of the NFL Super Bowl 54 football game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Kansas City Chiefs
The Kansas City Chiefs run onto the field before Super Bowl LIV against the San Francisco 49ers at Hard Rock Stadium
A Kansas City Chiefs fan, left, and an Elvis impersonator strike a pose before Super Bowl LIV in Miami Gardens, Florida
Rap artist Jay-Z and his daughter Blue Ivy arrive at Super Bowl LIV at Hard Rock Stadium
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo runs onto the field before Super Bowl LIV in Miami Gardens
Tributes all over other aspects of the sports world continued Sunday, exactly one week after the crash. At the Miami-Pittsburgh men´s college basketball game, Pitt fans tossed purple and gold confetti – Lakers colors – in the air after the Panthers scored their first basket. And before a Serie A soccer match at Olympic Stadium in Rome between Lazio and Spal, Bryant´s photo was displayed on the jumbo video screens.
At the PGA Tour´s Waste Management Phoenix Open, the tour joined players with a 16th-hole tribute to Bryant by using his two Lakers uniform numbers to cut the final-round pin position on the stadium par 3.
The pin was placed 24 yards from the front edge and 8 yards from the left edge on the rowdy hole that holds more than 20,000 fans. The yellow flag had a 24 on one side and an 8 on the other, and large matching numbers were painted in the grass in front of the green.
On Saturday night, Matt Dumba of the Minnesota Wild skated in a 24 jersey — another way of paying homage to Bryant.
The NFL also announced that it was auctioning 20 autographed helmets and footballs to benefit The Mamba Sports Foundation. Some of those who autographed items included NFL MVP Lamar Jackson, Peyton Manning, Jennifer Lopez, Shakira, Ciara and Russell Wilson, Stephon Gilmore, Shaquill and Shaquem Griffin, John Harbaugh, Christian McCaffrey, Kyler Murray, Paul Rudd, Deion Sanders, Michael Thomas, and all members of 2020 Pro Football Hall of Fame class.
Sherman ended his poem with ‘We love you, Kobe. We love you, Gianna. Love always, Richard.’
Demi Lovato performs the national anthem prior to Super Bowl LIV between the 49ers and the Chiefs
Actors (from left to right) Jeremy Renner, Paul Rudd and Miles Teller attend Super Bowl LIV in Miami Gardens
NFL Hall of Famer Chris Doleman lost his long battle with brain cancer earlier this week. He was honored before the game
Tom Brady talks with his childhood idol, former San Francisco 49ers QB Joe Montana, who engineered the game-winning touchdown drive against the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl XXIII in Miami Gardens, where Sunday’s game is being played
Before the game, fans voted to name the Immaculate Reception the greatest moment of the NFL’s first 100 years.
The NFL announced the results of fan voting Sunday before the Super Bowl, choosing the pass from Terry Bradshaw that Franco Harris scooped up at Three Rivers Stadium and took for a 60-yard touchdown in a 13-7 win over the Raiders in an AFC divisional game in December 1972.
Voting started in July with fans picking the best moment for each team, and the 32 moments were pared down before fans finally ranked the final four as part of the league’s centennial celebration.
The victory by the Immaculate Reception beat out the Helmet Catch by David Tyree off a pass from Eli Manning in the 2008 Super Bowl as the Giants denied New England both perfection at 19-0 and the Lombardi Trophy. Dwight Clark’s reception in the final minute of the 1981 NFC championship game at Candlestick Park best known as ‘The Catch’ ranked third with Miami’s perfect season in 1972 fourth.
To celebrate the Immaculate Reception’s victory, Bradshaw and Harris, now both members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, teamed up Sunday to reenact the moment Sunday during the Super Bowl pregame show on Fox.
‘We put the ball in Terry’s hands, and the rest is history,’ Harris said.
Bradshaw quipped: ‘You got to know how to make it bounce baby!’
San Francisco 49ers fans Tony Munoz and Ramiro Munoz cheer outside Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida
Actress Emily Ratajkowski (right) and DJ Khaled (left) walk on the field before Super Bowl LIV between the San Francisco 49ers and the Kansas City Chiefs held at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens
Entertainer Jay-Z watches his daughter Blue Ivy Carter leap on the field before Super Bowl LIV in Miami Gardens on Sunday
The 49ers have won five Super Bowls with two starting quarterbacks: Joe Montana (four) and Steve Young (one)
Kansas City Chiefs fans take pictures before Super Bowl LIV at Hard Rock Stadium on February 02
Hall of Famer Jerry Rice won a Super Bowl MVP for the 49ers in January of 1989 at the site of Sunday’s Super Bowl
New England coach Bill Belichick, Linda Holliday and Patriots owner Robert Kraft look on prior to Super Bowl LIV
The Kansas City Chiefs are lined up ahead of the national anthem at Super Bowl LIV in Miami Gardens, Florida on Sunday
A few San Francisco 49ers fans pose for pictures ahead of Super Bowl LIV in Miami Gardens, Florida on Sunday
NINERS’ SOWERS MAKING HISTORY AT SUPER BOWL
By Alex Raskin, Sports News Editor for DailyMail.com
San Francisco 49ers offensive assistant Katie Sowers will simply be trying to win a football game in Miami on February 2, but she’ll also be making history as the first woman and the only openly gay person to coach in a Super Bowl.
The face of a popular Microsoft tablet advertisement, Sowers will get her first taste of the Super Bowl LIV spotlight on Monday at media day, where throngs of reporters will undoubtedly ask about her rise from a volunteer girls basketball coach to the Niners’ sideline.
In the meantime, most fans know the 33-year-old Sowers from the frequent Microsoft spots, in which she reads a letter she wrote as a child, describing her gridiron aspirations.
‘I hope someday I will be a good football player,’ Sowers narrates during the ad. ‘I am good at football. When we play football at home, I can make a touchdown in one catch. I am the leader of our football club.’
‘I hope, someday, I will be on a real football team.’
To fans, Sowers’ impact may not be entirely clear.
San Francisco 49ers assistant coach Katie Sowers before Super Bowl LIV in Miami Gardens, Florida on Sunday
Niners offensive assistant Katie Sowers (left, far right) will become the first woman and the first openly gay person to coach in a Super Bowl on February 2. She often posts pictures of her girlfriend (near right) on social media, but has not publicly identified the woman by name
As seen in a recent Microsoft ad, Sowers and her twin sister adored football, even though they could not play in an organized league. Sowers grew up as a die-hard Dallas Cowboys fan
During the games she can be seen pacing the sidelines and conferring with offensive players when the defense is on the field. The rest of the week she runs drills, goes over film with players – primarily wide receivers – and attends meetings with other coaches.
Niners quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo described Sowers as ‘tremendous’ following the team’s NFC title game win over the Green Bay Packers – a game in which he needed to attempt only eight passes as San Francisco running back Raheem Mostert dominated with 220 yards and four touchdowns on the ground.
‘Katie was here before I was, but just what she does with the receivers, all the skill position guys, how she interacts with them,’ he said. ‘It’s special. She’s feisty, man. Katie is awesome out there. She’ll get after guys. … It’s fun to be around.’
Sowers’ tenure with the team predates Garoppolo’s arrival by a few months, and her relationship with 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan dates back to their time with the Atlanta Falcons.
Growing up as a Dallas Cowboys fan in Kansas, Sowers never played organized football until she was an adult with the West Michigan Mayhem of the Women’s Football Alliance, where she played quarterback, according to The Guardian.
After learning the game’s terminology from her veteran teammates, Sowers made an important friend back in Kansas in 2013 when she coached a fifth-grade girls basketball team that included the daughter of recently fired Chiefs executive Scott Pioli.
Pioli learned about Sowers’ involvement with football and admired her ability to coach, and to her surprise, he had no problem with the fact that she was openly gay.
‘What I failed to realize I was grouping him into a box,’ she told The Guardian. ‘Here’s this high-up NFL executive and how’s he going to react? Knowing his heart and his desire to help people was something I never thought could be possible in everything I assumed about that culture.’
It was Pioli who now-former Patriots offensive lineman Ryan O’Callaghan came out to in 2011 when the two were in New England – six years before publicly acknowledging he was gay.
In 2016, Pioli convinced the coaching staff to offer Sowers a fellowship for minority candidates, by which point Jen Welter was working with the Arizona Cardinals linebackers as the NFL’s first female coach.
In addition to her coaching duties, Sowers has encouraged the 49ers to launch a Pride fan club, regularly speaks out on LGBTQ+ issues, and frequently posts pictures of herself with her girlfriend on social media. (Sowers has not publicly identified her girlfriend by name)
Sowers soon discovered that her Falcons co-workers were eager to work with her.
‘I was embraced on day one,’ Sowers says. ‘It’s important to have someone in those leadership positions vouching for you. When you gain the respect of the influencers in the room, everyone follows and that was huge.’
‘There’s a balance between helping someone get a foot in the door and helping someone find a job they’re qualified for,’ Pioli told the Guardian.
Best of all, Sowers got the chance to work with Shanahan, who became the 49ers head coach in 2017.
Sowers asked Shanahan for an internship, which he gave her before making her a full-time coach before the 2019 season.
‘We plan on her assisting with the receivers,’ Shanahan told ESPN at the time. ‘Katie did a real good job for us in Atlanta, she’s done a really good job here. She helps [former receivers coach] Mike LaFleur out, just with some rotations and she helps our quality control [coaches] out just with all the stuff they have to do.
‘She’s a hard worker, you don’t even notice her because she just goes to work and does what’s asked. Because of that, she’s someone we’d like to keep around. We’re still figuring out exact titles and stuff and what that aspect is, but she’s done a good job for us two years in a row in camp and we’d like to have her help out throughout the year.’
‘Kyle’s not going to hire a woman to make a point,’ she says. ‘What’s really cool is that I showed in Atlanta that I could add value to the team. Having Kyle recognize that helped my confidence and set me on a path to become a better coach.’
In addition to her coaching duties, Sowers has encouraged the 49ers to launch a Pride fan club, regularly speaks out on LGBTQ+ issues, and frequently posts pictures of herself with her girlfriend on social media. (Sowers has not publicly identified her girlfriend by name)
As she explained, living openly has not only made her life less complicated, it may have also helped her as a coach.
‘If as coaches and teachers, if people don’t believe you, if they don’t trust you, if they don’t feel like you’re authentic, you’re not going to have any buy in,’ she told The Guardian.
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (right) arrives before Super Bowl LIV against the San Francisco 49ers at Hard Rock Stadium. (Left) Former baseball player Alex Rodriguez autographs a ball before the game
Sheryll Thomas of Bates City, Missouri, had one of the best deals possible for the Super Bowl: Free tickets.
She won her pair in a drawing at a 5k walk at Arrowhead Stadium in early October. So she knew for weeks she’d be inside Hard Rock Stadium for this game.
Then her favorite team, the Chiefs, won the AFC championship to earn Kansas City’s first Super Bowl trip since 1970. She and her husband, Jack, arrived at the stadium decked out in Chiefs’ jerseys and turned down lots of money for the opportunity to walk inside the Hard Rock Stadium.
‘It’s been overwhelming,’ Sheryll Thomas said. ‘I’ve had so many people offer to buy them. I was offered $10,000 a while ago in the parking lot.’
Kansas City Chiefs cheerleaders perform before Super Bowl LIV in Miami Gardens, Florida on Sunday
NATIVE AMERICAN ADVOCACY GROUPS URGE KANSAS CITY CHIEFS TO CHANGE THEIR NAME
Native American advocacy groups have been making their voices heard ahead of Super Bowl LIV.
From their team name and logo, to their home in Arrowhead Stadium, the Kansas City Chiefs bear the name and iconography of Native Americans – and with that, carry traditions that critics say draw on offensive and racist stereotypes.
‘It’s the portrayal, imagery of the kind of warrior savage, the uncivilized kind of perception and stereotype that has unfairly lingered around Indian country for a really long time,’ said Kevin Allis, the CEO of the National Congress of American Indians, the oldest and largest American Indian and Alaskan Native advocacy organization.
‘I think the Kansas City Chiefs are getting a little more visibility now because they’re in the limelight and we’ll probably see more of it.
‘As we see more and more of it on TV, it’s going to be an issue.’
From their team name and logo, to their home in Arrowhead Stadium, the Kansas City Chiefs bear the name and iconography of Native Americans – and with that, carry traditions that critics say draw on offensive and racist stereotypes
Longstanding traditions like the ‘tomahawk chop,’ a chant that involves fans waving their arms through the air in a chopping motion, have drawn increased scrutiny in the lead up to the Super Bowl, along with other fan behavior like donning headdresses either in the stadium or at the tailgate parties outside.
Reached by email, the Chiefs said in a written statement that they ‘engaged in meaningful discussions with a group comprised of individuals with diverse Native American backgrounds and experiences’ in the past six years.
‘Our goal has been to use our platform to create an awareness and understanding of Native American cultures, as well as celebrate the rich traditions of multiple tribes with a historic connection to our region,’ they added.
A Kansas City Chiefs fan before Super Bowl LIV on Sunday
Elizabeth Glynn, the CEO of Travois, a consulting firm that works with Native American and Alaskan Native and Native Hawaiian communities, said incremental changes were not enough, and that without changing the team name entirely, little progress could be made.
‘I’m not sure why there’s this blind spot in American society about native American imagery and how sports teams are using it for profit,’ said Glynn. ‘Until you really do something to change the symbol, none of that bad behavior is going to go anywhere.
‘We can all act like taking away one thing might make a difference but until they change the name, nothing will really change.’
One sign of change on the local level came months before the Chiefs ever landed in Miami, when the Kansas City Star https://www.kansascity.com/opinion/editorials/article236882498.html advocated for an end to the chanting and chopping hand gestures in a November editorial that called the practice, ‘a bad look for Kansas City – and an affront to Native Americans.’
Media coverage of the issue ramped up in the days leading up to the Super Bowl as well, with the New York Times running an opinion piece on Saturday with the headline, ‘My Culture Is Not Super Bowl Entertainment’.
Vincent Schilling, an Akwesasne Mohawk journalist and editor, told Reuters via email that while he believed offensive stereotypes toward the Native American community were deep-rooted in sports, he believed progress was possible.
‘I find a tomahawk chop to be extremely insulting because it is essentially a cartoon stereotype version of what a Native American is,’ Schilling wrote.
‘As the information age of television fades into history and people become collectively less tolerant toward stereotypes, the teams will have no choice.’
Hard Rock Stadium is covered in red as Kansas City Chiefs fans and their San Francisco 49ers counterparts arrive
American rapper Meek Mill looks on before Super Bowl LIV at Hard Rock Stadium on February 02
Now the Thomases have one more wish.
‘The only thing that´s going to make it better is to take home a win,’ Sheryll Thomas said.
StubHub said the average ticket price was $6,513 hours before kickoff, 53% higher than a year ago when the Super Bowl was in Atlanta. Getting inside the gates cost $5,270.
Tony Leogrande of Fontana, California, also got his tickets for free. The Detroit fan and his wife have traveled to every home and away game since 2013, and the Lions rewarded Leogrande with a pair of tickets to the Super Bowl at their final home game. His wife didn’t come to the Super Bowl, leaving Leogrande a spare ticket. He found Mike Bray, a Niners’ fan from Pennsylvania.
‘I’ve been looking for tickets for months and months and months and flew down here without a ticket,’ Bray said.
‘Walked on, asked a thousand people, `Who´s got a ticket? Who’s got a ticket?’ Someone said, `Find the Lions´ guy.’ Not a lot of Lions’ fans. … Got a ticket. It worked out great. I paid $4,000, which is fair to me, and it works out great. So I’m thrilled to be here.’
Leogrande chimed in: ‘He knows more about me than my wife does already.’
Bray has lots of company. StubHub says Pennsylvania, Nebraska and New Jersey were among the states with the highest jump in ticket sales over the past two days with Pennsylvania ticket sales jumping 118% in that time.
Kansas City Chiefs cheerleaders throw towels to attendees in the fan zone of The Hard Rock Stadium before Super Bowl LIV
Make-A-Wish brought 19 wish kids and their families from 12 different states and Canada to the Super Bowl, and their seats couldn’t have been much better.
‘Ooooh! I love it!’ said Terry, an 18-year-old from Michigan dealing with kidney disease. Normally a Lions’ fan, Terry planned to cheer for San Francisco in this game.
Told his seat would be in the first row right behind the Niners’ bench, 16-year-old Chris from Hawaii celebrated with a bit of a dance after a stunned response: ‘One?’
Make-A-Wish, founded in 1980 to help critically ill children, started teaming with the NFL in 1982 with the league helping grant the wish of John Paul Serna, a 12-year-old boy from Arizona who attended that year’s Super Bowl. That was the ninth wish in Make-A-Wish history, and the organization has had at least one wish kid at every Super Bowl for 38 years with more than 250 wishes granted at this game.
POLAMALU, JAMES, BRUCE, HUTCHINSON AND ATWATER HEADLINE HALL OF FAME CLASS FOR 2020
Pittsburgh Steelers legend Troy Polamalu and his equally memorable curly locks are heading to Canton, Ohio, as the retired All-Pro safety was among five former players named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Sunday.
The Steelers great earned a spot alongside another hard-hitting safety, Steve Atwater of Denver, as well as Rams wide receiver Isaac Bruce, Colts running back Edgerrin James and Seahawks guard Steve Hutchinson.
Polamalu said he went six or seven years, maybe longer, without cutting his hair during the prime of a career that lasted from 2003-14.
In this October 12, 2014, file photo, Pittsburgh Steelers strong safety Troy Polamalu watches from the bench in the second quarter of an NFL football game against the Cleveland Browns
But as much as for the hair, he earned the nickname ‘Tasmanian Devil’ for how he changed the way people thought about the safety position. Compact and fleet of foot at 5-foot-10 and 200 pounds, Polamalu bolted around the field, and made plays from practically anywhere. No quarterback, runner or receiver was safe.
James was a bastion of versatility and durability. A flashy first-round draft pick out of Miami, James made a name for himself with his ability to carve out room on the ground while playing in Peyton Manning’s offense with the Colts from 1999-2005
Selected in his first year of eligibility, Polamalu was a four-time All-Pro, was voted to eight Pro Bowls and finished with two Super Bowl rings in three trips. His rambling, cross-the-field fourth-quarter pick-six against Joe Flacco in the 2008 AFC title game cemented the win and was a highlight of what might have been his best season; he had seven interceptions that year and the Steelers won the Super Bowl.
Polamalu will go in the same year as Pittsburgh coach Bill Cowher and defensive back Donnie Shell, each of whom were voted in as part of the hall’s special centennial class designed to celebrate the NFL’s 100th year.
‘It’s a huge blessing to go in with Coach Cowher and a tremendous honor to go in with Donnie Shell because the Steelers’ defenses in the 70s laid our foundation,’ Polamalu said.
Though game-changing safeties were nothing new to the league, Polamalu could line up near the linebackers, or the defensive linemen, or deep in the backfield, and wreck a game plan from any of those spots.
‘He’s waking people up to the impact a safety can have in today’s game,’ another safety, John Lynch, said in an interview while Polamalu was in his prime.
Lynch, in Miami this week for the Super Bowl as GM of the 49ers, was also among the 15 finalists whose resumes were debated and discussed throughout the day by the panel of four dozen voters. But he did not make the cut. Neither did Tony Boselli, the dominant Jaguars offensive lineman whose career lasted only 91 games because of shoulder injuries. The Jaguars are still without a player in the hall.
An offensive lineman did make it, though. It was Steve Hutchinson, who played guard for the Seahawks, Vikings and Titans over a 12-year career. He’d been a finalist in all three years since becoming eligible and broke through in this, a class that didn’t include any slam dunks – or a single quarterback among the list of finalists.
‘I’ve written the speech the past few years in the shower and it´ll really be about the people who helped me get here,’ Hutchinson said.
Atwater made it – in his 16th year of eligibility, no less. – and became the first home-grown Broncos defender to join the hall. (An honor many in Denver believe should belong to Orange Crush linebacker Randy Gradishar.)
In this Oct. 23, 1989, file photo, Seattle Seahawks’ Louis Clark (84) brings in a pass as Denver Broncos’ Steve Atwater defends during an NFL football game in Seattle
Atwater said when he got the much-anticipated knock on his hotel door ‘it was pretty obvious it wasn’t the maid so I was pretty excited. I´m extremely honored to go in with all these men.’
A two-time All-Pro who won two Super Bowls, Atwater prowled the backfield and delivered vicious hits to anyone coming across. One irony of Atwater’s late-recognized greatness is that many of his whiplash-inducing hits would be illegal in today’s NFL.
Though receivers were mostly at risk, it was his shoulder-to-shoulder disintegration of 250-pound Chiefs running back Christian Okyoe, ‘The Nigerian Nightmare,’ while mic’d up on ‘Monday Night Football’ in 1990 that truly put Atwater on the map.
James was a bastion of versatility and durability. A flashy first-round draft pick out of Miami, James made a name for himself with his ability to carve out room on the ground while playing in Peyton Manning’s offense with the Colts from 1999-2005.
James also played three seasons with the Cardinals and a half-year with the Seahawks.
Isaac Bruce was a headliner in ‘The Greatest Show on Turf,’ the pass-happy attack run by Hall of Fame quarterback Kurt Warner when the Rams were in St. Louis. This was Bruce’s sixth season of eligibility and his fourth time as a finalist
‘Started With Gold Teeth, Ended With a Gold Jacket,’ James posted on social media after receiving the word.
James finished with more than 3,300 yards receiving and more than 12,000 yards rushing. He won the NFL rushing title in 1999 and 2000, no small thing given Manning was revving up his career at the time. James joins Colts wideout Marvin Harrison in the hall, which will give Manning more company next year when he’ll be a shoo-in to join them on his first ballot.
Bruce was a headliner in ‘The Greatest Show on Turf,’ the pass-happy attack run by Hall of Fame quarterback Kurt Warner when the Rams were in St. Louis. This was Bruce’s sixth season of eligibility and his fourth time as a finalist.
His 15,208 yards receiving over 16 seasons were second in the NFL record book when he retired in 2009. But he was never selected an AP All-Pro, and some critics dismissed his stats as being more a sign of his longevity and the passing era he played in than any mark of true greatness.
No matter. He was elated. ‘St. Louis, we headed to Canton!’ he tweeted.
There were no seniors announced Saturday, as they were folded into the centennial class. Others going in with that class, which was announced last month: Harold Carmichael, Alex Karras, Jim Covert, Bobby Dillon, Cliff Harris, Winston Hill, Duke Slater, Mac Speedie, Ed Sprinkle, along with coaches Jimmy Johnson, NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue, the late NFL Films exec Steve Sabol and longtime GM George Young.
Hall of Fame Class of 2020, stand on stage at the NFL Honors football award show Saturday