The Pro Football Hall of Fame announced seven new members of its prestigious fraternity Thursday night as two former University of Miami Hurricanes, Devin Hester and Andre Johnson were among the football immortals that will be enshrined in Canton this summer.
This year’s class features seven former players—including two senior inductees—in a defense-heavy class. The senior inductees are Randy Gradishar and Steve "Mongo" McMichael. Dwight Freeney, Julius Peppers and Patrick Willis round of the rest of the class.
Johnson becomes the first Houston Texan to arrive in Canton. During his 14-year career, he amassed 1,062 receptions for 14,185 yards and 70 touchdowns. Picked third in the NFL Draft, he was elected to seven Pro Bowls and was a two-time First Team All-Pro.
Hester, meanwhile, is the first kick returner or special teams member to be selected to the Hall. Many people in NFL circles believe that he was the greatest return man in NFL history. He had 14 punt returns for touchdowns during his 11-year career and also had five kickoff returns for touchdowns. His most electrifying touchdown might be a 92-yard score against the Indianapolis Colts on the game's opening kickoff in Super Bowl XLI.
Freeney was a fierce pass rusher who played 16 years in the NFL, including the first 11 with the Indianapolis Colts. He was elected to seven Pro Bowls and was a three-time All-Pro. Freeney also won Super Bowl XLI while a member of the Colts as they defeated Hester and the Chicago Bears. Freeney finished his career with 125.5 sacks and 128 tackles for loss.
Peppers, a standout for most of his career with the Carolina Panthers, finished his career fourth on the all-time sack list with 159.5.
Gradishar and McMichael were both selected from the senior ballot in their last year of eligibility.
For Gradishar it was his fourth attempt as a finalist, while McMichael was a finalist before 2023, but finally got selected on this ballot. Gradishar played for the Broncos during the 1970s and 1980s. He was the 1978 AP Defensive Player of the Year and was selected to seven Pro Bowls while becoming All-Pro on two different occasions.
McMichael will also be remembered for his role on one of the greatest defenses of all-time, the 1985 Chicago Bears, who went on and defeated New England in the Super Bowl to claim their only Super Bowl Championship.
Willis played eight seasons for the San Francisco 49ers and participated in seven Pro Bowls. He was an All-Pro for five seasons and won the Rookie of the Year Award in 2007.