CANTON, Ohio -- The focus was largely on family during
acceptance speeches at the Pro Football Hall of Fame tonight.
Enshrined in Canton were former players Thurman Thomas, Michael
Irvin, Charlie Sanders, Gene Hickerson, Roger Wehrle, and Bruce Matthews.
Thomas, a former Buffalo Bills running back who rushed for over
12,000 yards, punctuated his speech by asking his wife to marry him
The go-to receiver on three Super Bowl winners in Dallas, Irvin
praised the Cowboys family for inspiring him to make it Canton.
As a Detroit Lions tight end, Sanders was chosen to the NFL's
all-decade team of the 1970s. He entered the hall by thanking a
mother he never knew -- she died when he was 2 years old.
Hickerson's son, Bob, accepted on behalf of his father, who
suffers from Alzheimer's disease. The former Cleveland Browns guard
was then brought onto the stage in a wheelchair guided by former
teammates Jim Brown, Leroy Kelly and Bobby Mitchell -- all ball
carriers he blocked for.
Matthews was an offensive lineman for the Houston
Oilers/Tennessee Titans franchise. His 296 games played were more
than any full-time position player when he retired. He also joined
the family theme, campaigning for his brother, former linebacker
Clay Matthews, to join him in the hall.
Wehrle was a five-time All-Pro cornerback with the St. Louis
Cardinals. He was elected in his final year of eligibility with the
regular selection committee.