Feb. 5, 2011
DALLAS, Texas – Florida State Great Deion Sanders headlines a class of seven voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday. One of two first-year eligible nominees, Sanders becomes just the second Seminole selected to the Hall of Fame joining Fred Biletnikoff – a 1988 selection.
Sanders joins the likes of running back Marshall Faulk – the other first-year eligible nominee, defensive end Richard Dent, tight end Shannon Sharpe, NFL Films founder Ed Sabol and linebackers Chris Hanburger and Les Richter in the 2011 Pro Football Hall of Fame class.
Sanders, the outstanding cornerback/kick returner and sometime wide receiver known as “Prime Time” with five teams, is a two-time Super Bowl winner and Defensive Player of the Year in 1994. He enjoyed a 14-year NFL career after bursting on to the scene as the fifth overall selection in the 1989 NFL draft. He returned a punt 68 yards for a touchdown in his first game for the Atlanta Falcons.
A dynamic kick and punt returner, shutdown cornerback and later a wide receiver, Sanders returned six touchdowns on punt returns, three touchdowns on kick returns, nine touchdowns off interceptions and one fumble recovery for a touchdown. He added 60 receptions for 784 yards and three touchdowns during his career with the Falcons, San Francisco 49ers, Dallas Cowboys, Washington Redskins and Baltimore Ravens. He finished his career with 53 interceptions, including five after coming out of a three-year retirement to play two seasons for the Ravens in 2004 and 2005.
He won two Super Bowls during his career, starting at cornerback for the 49ers’ victory over the San Diego Chargers in Super Bowl XXIX and in the Cowboys’ win over the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XXX. His 1,331 interception return yards are second all-time, as is his nine interceptions returned for touchdowns. He was named Defensive Player of the year in 1994 after he recorded six interceptions, three of which he returned for touchdowns, and that year became the first player ever to have two 90-yard interception returns for touchdowns in the same season.
He’s described as the most dominant cover cornerback of his generation and perhaps all time. Sanders averaged more than 15 yards every time he got his hands on the football.
Going back to his Florida State days, Sanders still ranks third in career interceptions with 14 and is still responsible for the longest interception return in school history -a 100-yarder that went for a touchdown against Tulsa in 1985. He also holds the record for most punt returns in a career (126), career punt return yards (1,429), most touchdowns on interceptions in a season (2) and career (4).
A 44-member committee selected the seven-member class. To be elected, a finalist must receive a minimum vote of 80 percent.
Induction ceremonies are Aug. 6 in Canton, Ohio.