NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — New York Giants great Michael Strahan is beyond excited to be selected as a member of this year’s Pro Football Hall of Fame class.
“It’s incredible,” Strahan said, according to the Giants’ official website. “Football changed my life, period. And now I’m sure this will definitely change my life as well. I just think about being recognized as one of the best that’s ever played in the greatest sport in our country, and being respected for the way that you played it. That in itself changes my life. Maybe not for anybody else, but it does for me, and that’s very important to me.”
Punter Ray Guy, receiver Andre Reed, defensive back Aeneas Williams and defensive end Claude Humphrey also were announced Saturday as part of the class of 2014. Two first-time eligible players, linebacker Derrick Brooks and offensive tackle Walter Jones, were selected.
The announcement was made at the NFL Honors award show, less than 24 hours before the Denver Broncos take on the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLVIII.
“I’m excited to have made it and to join the other members of the Hall of Fame,” Strahan said. “And to be inducted with the class I’m inducted in, guys that I admired when I played against them, guys I admired when I watched them, even though they’re from a different era. They’re guys of high character. That’s all you can ask for, to be with a group like that, and I’m honored to be with this group.”
Among the finalists who didn’t get in were two with ties to the Indianapolis Colts and current Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning — coach Tony Dungy and receiver Marvin Harrison.
Each incoming Hall of Famer walked to the stage and was announced individually. Strahan, who helped the Giants make two Super Bowls, got a huge cheer from the home crowd.
Induction will be on Aug. 1 in Canton, Ohio.
“I’m thrilled for Michael,” Giants co-owner John Mara said. “He was one of the greatest players in franchise history. Without him, there’s no way we would have won Super Bowl XLII. Not only was he a huge part of that team because of his play on the field, he was the leader of that defense. The other players looked up to him. … He was a leader and a great player and I’m delighted that he is going to his rightful place in Canton.”
Strahan set the NFL record for sacks in a single season, getting 22½ in 2001. The one most people remember is the record-setter in the final game of the regular season, when Green Bay’s Brett Favre seemed to lay down on a play late in the game.
While there is controversy about that play, Strahan was one of the top two-way defensive ends. Younger teammates said he taught them how to work to become NFL players, and he walked away from the NFL after winning the Super Bowl in February 2008.
“It’s hard to find guys with everything, but this guy had everything … size, speed, power, toughness, endurance, motor, smarts, leadership, heart, love for the game, but what I admired most about Michael was his pride,” Giants general manager Jerry Reese said. “No matter what the circumstances were, when he walked out on that field on Sunday, he was going to give it all to you. There aren’t many guys who can say that.”
Giants coach Tom Coughlin said he never doubted Strahan would be enshrined in Canton.
“From the time that he retired, I always felt that he would be simply waiting before he became a Hall of Famer,” he said. “That’s what I always thought he would be and rightfully so. He takes his place along with the great, great defensive players of the game and the great Giants of the game who have been inducted into the Hall of Fame.”
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