CANTON, Ohio (AP) — LeRoy Butler jumped into the Pro Football Hall of Fame with his enthusiasm for celebrating the big game at Lambeau Field.
The four-time all-occupational safety is the first of the eight-member class of 2022 at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium on Saturday.
“DJ Khaled said it best: ‘God did it,'” Butler began quoting the song. “A lot of doors open when you play for the Green Bay Packers. When you win the Super Bowl, more doors open. When you’re in the Hall of Fame, football heaven opens. It’s rare company of.”
Jaguars fans who saw Tony Boselli take office cheered when Butler mentioned growing up in Jacksonville.
“Thank you, Duvall,” Butler said. “My mom, who grew up in poverty, she made us rich every day because it’s not about what you have or what you have, it’s how you behave.”
During a 12-year career, Butler helped restore Green Bay to its glory days. His versatility as a safety set the standard for a new wave at the position and earned him a spot on the league’s All-Decade in the 1990s.
Butler launched the “Rambo Leap” and made a key sack in Green Bay’s Super Bowl win over New England. He nearly became the first player in league history to finish his career with 40 interceptions and 20 sacks.
Sam Mills, the 5-foot-9 linebacker nicknamed “The Wild Mouse” during his 12-year career with the New Orleans Saints and Carolina Panthers, was awarded posthumously behind Butler. An inspirational figure, Mills overcame a formidable struggle to get into the NFL.
Mills played in Division III college football but was not drafted. He was cut by the CFL’s Cleveland Browns and Toronto Argonauts and started his career with the USFL’s Philadelphia Stars. Jim Mora, who had coached the Stars, brought him to New Orleans in 1986, and Mills never looked back.
“He was told he wasn’t good enough to play college football or old enough to play professional football, and at 27, he wasn’t young enough to play in the NFL, but we’re here to celebrate today,” Melanie Mill said. , Sam’s widow.
Mills completed 1,265 tackles in 12 seasons with 23 turnovers, 22 turnovers, 20 1/2 sacks, and 11 pass interceptions. He was also part of the first four playoff teams in Saints history and the first in Panthers history.
After Mills retired, he became an assistant coach for the Panthers. He was diagnosed with bowel cancer before the 2003 season, but continued to coach during treatment and delivered what he called a “keep on pounding” speech on the eve of the club’s Super Bowl matchup with New England at the end of that season.
Mills died in April 2005 at the age of 45. His “constant pounding” remains the Panthers’ catchphrase.
In a year without candidates for the first ballot, inductees endured long waits to enter the halls.
Defensive tackle Richard Seymour didn’t wait long to get a taste of success in the NFL. During his first four seasons with the New England Patriots, he was part of three Super Bowl-winning teams.
Seymour pointed to the defensive stalwarts of these teams, but did not mention Tom Brady by name.
“We had a young quarterback, but we did it,” Seymour said, drawing laughter from the crowd.
Seymour had 57 1/2 career sacks in 12 seasons, the first eight in New England, before he ended his career with the Oakland Raiders.
“I’m overwhelmed with humility because it’s not about what this says about me, it’s about what it says about us and what we can do together,” he said. “I’m so grateful because I didn’t come alone. None of us. None of us can.”
Seymour, 42, choked up as he thanked his wife, Tanya.
“Football is my job, but family is what I am,” he said. “Thank you for all that you have added to my life. This day belongs to my family. The Bible teaches that your wealth is in your family.”
Seymour called his three children his “greatest joy”.
“Of all the things I’ve accomplished, there’s been no greater honor than being your father,” he said.
Seymour praised Patriots owner Robert Kraft and former Raiders owner Al Davis and his son Mark Davis.
He attributes his success to the lessons he learned from Patriots coach Bill Belichick: work hard, be meticulous in preparation, support your teammates, and respect your opponents.
“Without Coach Belichick, none of this would have happened,” Seymour said.
Longtime arts referee head McNally gave a video speech after being selected as a contributor.
More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL