2019 Pro Football Hall of Fame class: Meet the newest members

For the second consecutive year, youth was emphatically served in the newest class for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Three first-time-eligible players — Champ Bailey, Tony Gonzalez and Ed Reed — were selected to the Class of 2019. The Class of 2018 also included three first-time-eligible players: Ray Lewis, Randy Moss and Brian Urlacher.

The other modern-era finalists who will be enshrined are Kevin Mawae and Ty Law. Contributors Pat Bowlen and Gil Brandt, as well as Seniors finalist Johnny Robinson were also selected for enshrinement.

The group of eight will be inducted into the Hall of Fame on Aug. 3 in Canton, Ohio.

Here’s a closer look at the Class of 2019:

MODERN ERA

CHAMP BAILEY | CORNERBACK

Washington Redskins, 1999-2003; Denver Broncos, 2004-2013

Bailey was a 12-time Pro Bowl selection, three-time first-team All-Pro and an All-Decade pick for the 2000s. He finished his career with 52 interceptions.

Why he was elected: Bailey was among the best to play the position, both in his era and of all time. Smooth, unassuming and supremely confident, Bailey usually let his play do his talking and the only nickname Roland Bailey had for much of his career is the one his mom gave him — Champ.

Signature moment: Former Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas once was asked if there was a play that summed up Bailey’s talents and he said, “They all do; everything he does is great.” But for many Broncos fans, it would be Bailey’s interception of Tom Brady in the end zone during a 2005 AFC divisional round game, and his return of 100 yards before being blasted by Patriots tight end Ben Watson.

He said it: “I had young players ask me all the time about which [cornerbacks] they should study to get better. I tell them, ‘Study ’em all, but [I’m] not sure what you’ll get from looking at Champ because I don’t know I’ve ever seen anybody who could do what Champ does every day.” — Former Broncos defensive coordinator Larry Coyer

TONY GONZALEZ | TIGHT END

Kansas City Chiefs, 1997-2008; Atlanta Falcons, 2009-2013

Gonzalez was a finalist his first year of eligibility. He was a 14-time Pro Bowl selection, led the league in receptions (102) in 2004 and finished among the league’s top 10 in receptions five times. He is No. 2 in career receptions with 1,325.

Why he was elected: Gonzalez was the first tight end to be enshrined in his first year of eligibility. Ditka waited until his 12th year of eligibility — and he had been selected to the league’s 75th anniversary team — and John Mackey was in his 15th year of eligibility. Only Jerry Rice caught more passes than Gonzalez, whose 15,127 career receiving yards make him the only tight end in the league’s top 20 in that category.

Signature moment: Gonzalez has said his one-handed touchdown catch against the Eagles in 2011 may have been his best play. Overall, his 102-catch, 1,258-yard, seven-touchdown season in 2004 — he was the first tight end to reach the 100-catch mark in a season — is hard to ignore.

He said it: “Adversity in life teaches you.” — Gonzalez

TY LAW | CORNERBACK

New England Patriots, 1995-2004; New York Jets, 2005, 2008; Kansas City Chiefs, 2006-2007; Denver Broncos, 2009

Law was a five-time Pro Bowl selection and a three-time Super Bowl winner who did some of his best work in the postseason. He had six interceptions in 13 career postseason games, including three in the Patriots’ run to close out the 2003 season with a Lombardi trophy. He finished with 53 career interceptions, including a league-leading 10 in 2005 as a 31-year-old.

Why he was elected: Those who played with him talk of his excellence over his career, but the fact he was often such a prominent figure in playoff games — in one-and-done situations — lift him above so many others.

Signature moment: Sure, there is the pick-six interception against Kurt Warner in Super Bowl XXXVI. But a day that may stand above all others in his career is the 2003 AFC Championship Game, when Law intercepted Manning three times in a Patriots win.

He said it: “Bet on yourself. … Believe me, if you do, you’ll win.” — Law in The Players’ Tribune

ED REED | SAFETY

Baltimore Ravens, 2002-2012; New York Jets, 2013; Houston Texans, 2013

The nine-time Pro Bowl selection led the league in interceptions three times and finished as the all-time leader in interception-return yardage (1,590). Reid scored 13 non-offensive touchdowns in his career, including seven interception returns and two fumble returns. He earned a Super Bowl ring in his final year with the Ravens.

Why he was elected: He had seven seasons when he had more than 100 yards worth of interception returns, four with more than 150 yards and two seasons with more than 200. Toss in those 13 touchdowns, a pile of big plays in the biggest moments to go with five first-team All-Pro selections and you end up with a bust in Canton.

Signature moment: It is difficult to sift through the list, but his 108-yard interception return for a touchdown against the Eagles in 2008 likely tops the list. It broke his record of a 106-yard interception return for a touchdown in 2007 against the Cleveland Browns. The 108-yarder was one of three defensive touchdowns Reed had in 2008.

He said it: “Advice? Work, work, work. And then do it some more.” — Reed

KEVIN MAWAE | CENTER

Seattle Seahawks, 1994-1997; New York Jets, 1998-2005; Tennessee Titans, 2006-2009

Mawae was a three-time finalist for the Hall of Fame. He played 16 seasons and was a no-nonsense leader on three of those teams who helped lift the offense he played in each time. In eight of his 16 seasons, the offenses he played in finished in the league’s top five in rushing.

Why he was elected: On the field and in the locker room, Mawae’s work was universally lauded by his former coaches and teammates. When he was with the Titans, Mawae actually led meetings with the offensive line and the running backs without coaches present to get in the extra work he believed the group needed. He blocked for five different running backs who combined for 13 1,000-yard rushing seasons. He was selected to eight Pro Bowls and was an All-Decade selection for the 2000s.

Signature moment: For the center’s career, many of his coaches said it was the fact they could run plays in their offense other teams couldn’t run because of Mawae’s athleticism. Hall of Fame running back Curtis Martin said he wondered on several of his touchdown runs if Mawae “would beat me to the end zone because he was such a good athlete.”

He said it: “He could do things other centers couldn’t do, pull out on sweeps, make that long reach block on players other guys simply couldn’t make. The only other (center) is his era I could compare to him is Dermontti Dawson (Pittsburgh Steelers) and he’s in the Hall of Fame.’’ – Hall of Fame coach Bill Parcells

SENIORS

JOHNNY ROBINSON | SAFETY

Dallas Texans/Kansas City Chiefs, 1960-1971

Robinson was a seven-time Pro Bowl selection, as well as a six-time first-team All-Pro selection as a defensive player. He started his career on offense, rushing for 458 yards as a rookie and had two 600-yard receiving seasons in the earliest days of the AFL.

Why he was elected: He led the AFL in interceptions with 10 in 1966, and then led the NFL in interceptions with 10 in 1970, the year of the NFL/AFL merger — at age 32. Though he played his first two seasons on offense, he still retired with 57 interceptions; only three players had more when his career ended in 1971.

Signature moment: In the Chiefs’ 23-7 victory over the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl IV, Robinson played with three broken ribs and finished with an interception and fumble recovery.

He said it: “Simply put, Johnny Robinson is one of the greatest safeties I ever faced and I can’t really think of any that I’ve seen in the last 50 years since that have been better.” — Hall of Famer Lance Alworth

CONTRIBUTORS

GIL BRANDT | VP OF PLAYER PERSONNEL

Dallas Cowboys, 1960-1989

How teams evaluate players can be traced to Brandt’s long run with the Cowboys, including the use of computers, tracking multisport athletes and mining small-college talent.

Why he was elected: The Cowboys with Brandt, Tom Landry and Tex Schramm are generally credited, in addition to the success on the field, with bringing scouting and the evaluation of players into the computer age. The Cowboys also mined smaller schools for talent — such as Hall of Famer Bob Hayes — as well as scouting players in other sports, given they were regulars at the NCAA track and field meet. The also were scouting in Europe and Canada.

Signature moment: Beyond the 20 consecutive winning seasons and 13 division titles the Cowboys had during his tenure, he has said the Cowboys’ two Super Bowl wins (VI, XII) would top the list.

He said it: “I was always proud of how we did it, how we built the team and the way we went about it — always proud of that.” — Brandt

PAT BOWLEN | OWNER

Denver Broncos, 1984-present

He is the only owner in NFL history whose team tallied 300 wins in the first 30 years of his tenure. The Broncos have won three Super Bowls and played in seven of them since he purchased the team in 1984. He also served as an important voice in league affairs during his time on several committees, including the management council executive committee and broadcasting committee.

Why he was elected: Bowlen is the only owner in the Super Bowl era to have four different head coaches take his team to the Super Bowl. And during his tenure, the Broncos have had the same number of losing seasons as Super Bowl appearances.

Signature moment: When the Broncos finally broke through with a win over the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XXXII, Bowlen accepted the Vince Lombardi Trophy and shouted, “This one’s for John,” meaning Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway.

He said it: “We want to be No. 1 in everything.” — Bowlen

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