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Pro Football Hall of Fame: Paul Tagliabue, Donnie Shell help round out centennial class

Paul Tagliabue
Former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue has made the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
(Steve Mitchell / Associated Press)

Former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue has made the Pro Football Hall of Fame in his fifth attempt.

Tagliabue and former New York Giants general manager George Young made it as contributors. Ex-Dallas Cowboys safety Cliff Harris and former Cleveland Browns receiver Mac Speedie completed the centennial class announced Wednesday.

Tagliabue replaced Pete Rozelle as league commissioner in 1989 and served 17 years, during which there was labor peace, expansion to 32 teams and widespread upgrades in stadiums. The NFL’s television revenues under Tagliabue also skyrocketed.

Young, who also worked under Tagliabue in the league office, turned around a moribund Giants franchise, which won two Super Bowls under his guidance.

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Harris was one of the hardest-hitting defensive backs in the NFL, a six-time Pro Bowler who was a major part of the Dallas defenses of the 1970s.

David Koechner, Rob Riggle and Eric Stonestreet (and Paul Rudd and Jason Sudeikis) are part of a cadre of comic actors who are die-hard Chiefs fans.

Speedie was part of the unstoppable Cleveland Browns offense in the AAFC and then in the NFL. He averaged 16.1 yards on 349 receptions and scored 32 touchdowns during his seven-season career.

Earlier Wednesday, several others joined the previously announced Bill Cowher and Jimmy Johnson as part of the special class celebrating the NFL’s 100th season:

— Former Pittsburgh safety Donnie Shell is the 10th man from the Steelers dynasty of the 1970s to be elected, and the fifth from the Steel Curtain defense that dominated the NFL.

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— Safety Bobby Dillon played for the Green Bay Packers from 1952-59. Despite a childhood accident in which he lost an eye, Dillon made nine interceptions in a season three times and seven picks twice.

— Alex Karras was an unmovable defensive tackle for the Lions. He unofficially had 97 1-2 sacks during an era in which the statistic was not tracked.

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— Duke Slater, one of the NFL’s first black players, played from 1922-31, mostly for the Chicago Cardinals. He made four all-NFL squads at tackle during an era when players went two ways.

— Ed Sprinkle was called “the greatest pass rusher” that George Halas ever saw and also was once dubbed “the meanest man in football” — he made four Pro Bowls and the 1940s All-Decade Team.

— Steve Sabol was the creative force at NFL Films, which won more than 100 Emmy Awards under his stewardship. His father, Ed Sabol, was enshrined in 2011.

— At 6-foot-8, 225 pounds, wide receiver Harold Carmichael was something very new to pro football. He used his height, long arms and strong hands to dominate smaller defenders from 1971-84.

— Winston Hill was the powerhouse blocker for the New York Jets who stunned Baltimore in the third Super Bowl. Joe Namath has called Hill “one of the biggest reasons we won that game.”

— Jim Covert spent eight seasons with the Chicago Bears and was the top offensive lineman for the 1985 Super Bowl champions.


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