On Saturday, Aug. 4, the 2001 class will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. The seven-member class will bring the total number of pro football heroes enshrined in the Hall of Fame to 211.
Nick Buoniconti Linebacker. Boston Patriots 1962-'68, Miami Dolphins 1969-'74, '76. The facts: Played in five AFL All-Star games with the Patriots and one with Miami after his 1969 trade. ... Was Dolphins' MVP in '69. ... Following AFL-NFL merger, was named to two more Pro Bowls, in '73 and '74. ... During seven seasons with Miami, the Dolphins made three consecutive Super Bowl appearances (VI, VII, VIII). Miami won two of those, including after its undefeated season in '72. ... Recorded 32 career interceptions. ... Will be presented by his son, Marc Buoniconti. Joel Buchsbaum says: "Buoniconti was a guy who the NFL thought was too small. But Mike Holovak, who was putting together the Boston Patriots at the time, had an uncanny knack for finding undersized, wrong-sized players for the NFL who would turn into tremendous players for him. Later on in (Buoniconti's) career, he was traded to the Dolphins and was the catalyst of the 'No-Name Defense.' Buoniconti never really was big enough. He did not have exceptional speed, but he had exceptional quickness, exceptional reaction speed, exceptional instincts and, unlike most linebackers his size, he was able to see things. Somehow, he would see through the forest, whereas most linebackers his size had areas where they just couldn't see. Plus, he was a tremendous on-the-field leader."
Marv Levy Coach. Kansas City Chiefs 1978-'82, Buffalo Bills 1986-'97. The facts: Overall record was 154-120-0. ... Ranked 10th in NFL history at the time of his retirement. ... Left Chiefs following the 1982 strike-shortened season. ... Set a new standard for NFL head coaches when he led the Bills to four consecutive Super Bowls. ... Guided Buffalo to playoffs in eight of 12 seasons. ... NFL Coach of the Year in '88. ... Will be presented by former Bills and current Colts GM Bill Polian. Joel Buchsbaum says: "Levy was the ultimate professional coach. He was an extremely bright man, yet he had an uncanny knack to interact and get through to all of his players. He also was one of the most adaptable coaches in the league. When he came in, he used a wing-T offense in Kansas City because he didn't have receivers, he had runners, and he didn't have an offensive line that could pass block. Yet, when he went to Buffalo, he went to one of the most wide-open offenses in the game because it fit Jim Kelly the best. (Levy) had a great ability to fit the scheme to what his players did best, instead of the other way around. He also was very fundamentally and technically sound and was one of the first coaches in the league to realize the value special teams had, and that special teams were really one third of the game. When he was with the Bills, their special teams were always one of the best in the league."
Mike Munchak Offensive guard. Houston Oilers 1982-'93. The facts: Selected by Houston in the first round (eighth overall) of the 1982 NFL draft. ... Earned starting OLG spot as a rookie. ... Played in 159 games in his 12 NFL seasons. ... Considered a devastating blocker, Munchak was the key to an offensive line that kept the Oilers at or near the top of the NFL's offensive statistical categories. ... Behind the Munchak-led line, the Oilers led the NFL in total offense in '90 and passing offense in '90 and '91. ... The Oilers finished second in points scored in '90 and total offense in '91. ... Was equally effective as pass and run blocker, as team finished fourth in the NFL in '93 in both average gain per rushing play (4.4 yards) and average gain per offensive play (5.3 yards). ... In '88, Munchack led a line that gave up only 24 sacks, third-best in the league. ... Named All-Pro four times, All-AFC seven times and selected to play in the Pro Bowl nine times. ... Will be presented by Titans OL Bruce Matthews. Joel Buchsbaum says: "Just a devastating run blocker. He and Bruce Matthews may have been the best set of guards ever to play the game. Matthews has played longer, played more positions and gotten more publicity, but as a pure guard, Munchak may have been even better and was the more explosive of the two. He was very similar to John Hannah but never got the hype Hannah got."
Jackie Slater Offensive tackle. Los Angeles/St. Louis Rams 1976-'95. The facts: Selected in third round (86th overall) of 1976 draft. ... Played in 259 games in 20 seasons. ... Retired tied for third-most seasons played in NFL history. ... His 259 regular-season games played were the most by an offensive lineman at the time of his retirement. ... Was first- or second-team All-Pro choice five seasons and first- or second-team All-NFC choice seven times. ... Known for his work ethic and leadership skills. ... Earned seven Pro Bowl berths ('84, '86-'91). ... A powerful drive blocker, Slater played in front of 24 different quarterbacks and 37 different running backs. ... A total of 27 Rams quarterbacks passed for 300-plus yards in a game with Slater as a blocker. ... In '83, the Rams' offensive line allowed a league-low 23 sacks, while Eric Dickerson rushed for a rookie record 1,808 yards. ... Appeared in 18 playoff games. ... Named USA Today Lineman of the Year three times. ... Will be presented by John Robinson, head coach of the Rams from 1983-'91. Joel Buchsbaum says: "Slater was one of the most durable, dependable, technically sound offensive linemen in the NFL. He was a guy who worked very hard during the offseason to improve every year. The Rams stole him in Round Three."
Lynn Swann Wide receiver. Pittsburgh Steelers 1974-'82. The facts: First-round draft pick (21st overall) in 1974. ... Used primarily on punt returns as a rookie. ... Saw limited action at wide receiver late in his rookie season, and his TD catch against Oakland in the AFC championship proved to be the game-winner. ... Had 41 punt returns for 577 yards, one touchdown and a 14.1-yard average as a rookie. ... Became a regular wide receiver in his second NFL season, catching 49 passes for 781 yards and a league-high 11 touchdowns. ... Finished his second season by winning MVP honors in Super Bowl X for catching four passes for 161 yards, including the 64-yard, game-winning TD catch. ... Finished career with 336 receptions for 5,462 yards and 51 touchdowns. ... Scored 318 points on 53 touchdowns. ... All-Pro in '75, '77, '78. ... Appeared in three Pro Bowls. ... Will be presented by former Steelers WR John Stallworth. Joel Buchsbaum says: "Lynn Swann is the one I have a slight question about, especially going in over John Stallworth. Swann had three or four years in the middle of his career when he was absolutely brilliant, and he had the magnificent Super Bowl catches and game. Except he wasn't a long-term player or an exceptionally durable player, and at the beginning of his career, he was basically a backup and a rotating receiver. At the end, he was hurt an awful lot."
Ron Yary Offensive tackle. Minnesota Vikings 1968-'81, Los Angeles Rams 1982. The facts: The Vikings used bonus pick acquired in Fran Tarkenton trade with the Giants to select Yary first in 1968. ... Two-year consensus All-America at USC. ... Winner of the '67 Outland Trophy, which goes to the nation's top college lineman. ... Had speed, agility, intelligence, aggressiveness and strong work ethic. ... Very durable, as he missed only two games because of injury. ... Military forced him to miss first three games of the '69 season. ... Took over as right tackle at midseason of '69 ... All-Pro in '71, '72, '73, '74, '75, '76. ... Played in seven Pro Bowls, from 1972-'78. ... Starting right tackle in Super Bowls IV, VII, IX and the '69, '73, '74, '76 and '77 NFL/NFC championships. ... Was traded to the Rams for a 10th-round draft pick in '82. ... Played in eight games for the Rams in '82, his final NFL season. ... Appeared in 207 games during his 15-year career. ... Will be presented by John Michels, Vikings assistant coach from 1968-'93. Joel Buchsbaum says: "Ron Yary was a long-time very good offensive lineman. He was the No. 1 pick in the draft. He may have been a little bit overhyped at times. He wasn't quite as good, I don't think, overall as Dan Dierdorf, Art Shell and those players. He was good, but he generally would lose his legendary battles with Jack Youngblood."
Jack Youngblood Defensive End. Los Angeles Rams 1971-'84. The facts: Played in 202 games during 14-year NFL career. ... Backed up superstar Deacon Jones at left end as rookie before becoming a regular in his third pro season. ... One of NFL's most rugged, determined and durable players. ... A dominant defender, Rams' perennial sack leader. ... Played in 201 consecutive games, a Rams record. ... Missed just one game in 14 years. ... Was Rams' defensive captain. ... Fractured left fibula in '79 first-round playoff game, was fitted with a plastic brace, then played every defensive down in the NFC title game and Super Bowl XIV. ... Played in five NFC championship games. ... All-Pro in '74, '75, '76, '78 and '79. ... All-NFC seven times. ... Played in seven straight Pro Bowls from 1974-'80. ... Three-time winner of Dan Reeves Award, which is presented to the Rams' MVP. ... Will be presented by former Rams DL Merlin Olsen. Joel Buchsbaum says: "Youngblood to me was the all-time warrior and competitor. You just couldn't get this guy off the field. He'd play in a game with a broken leg. He was one of the great, underrated defensive ends in the game. He never really got the publicity he deserved. But in the annals of Rams football, aside from Deacon Jones, he probably was the best defensive end they ever had."
Material from Pro Football Weekly. Visit PFW's web site at http://www.profootballweekly.com