Andre Reed, Class of 2014 catch immortality

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CANTON, Ohio -- After delivering an emotionally charged speech that brought both laughter and tears, receiver Andre Reed had one more thing to do to make his Pro Football Hall of Fame induction complete.

Turning his back to the crowd at the podium, Reed caught a pass from former Buffalo Bills teammate and fellow Hall of Famer Jim Kelly on the stage Saturday night at Fawcett Stadium. The two then shared a long, emotional hug. It was a fitting finish for a tandem that set a then-NFL record by hooking up 663 times in Buffalo.

And it was a moment that paid homage to the quarterback, who has spent the past 14 months battling cancer.

"You taught us not to quit," Reed said, referring to Kelly. "You have endured a lot in your life. The loss of your son, and most recently your battle with cancer. You're an inspiration to all you touch."

Kelly was near tears, and the thousands of Bills fans in the crowd cheered.

And leave it to defensive end Michael Strahan, and his familiar gap-toothed grin, for bringing the laughs. He poked fun at his former New York Giants teammates, such as quarterback Eli Manning's stoic expressions.

The evening featured other memorable moments from the seven-member 2014 class.

Defensive back Aeneas Williams had the fans and fellow Hall of Famers chanting in the stands to give it their all.

Linebacker Derrick Brooks delivered what he called a 24-minute "Thank you letter."

Defensive end Claude Humphrey said the 28-year wait to be inducted was worth it.

And Ray Guy made history, becoming the first full-time punter to be inducted.

The class also included offensive tackle Walter Jones, a nine-time Pro Bowl selection who spent his entire 12-season career in Seattle.

Jones had a large contingent of fans seated to the left of the stage, all of them wearing Seahawks-colored T-shirts with "Jones" and No. 71 on the back.

The ceremony began with Brooks, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers star, who was selected for induction in his first year of eligibility, and followed by Humphrey, 70, who retired after the 1981 season.

"Now they tell me I only had 10 minutes up here, but let me start off by telling you that I've waited 30 years to get to this podium, so don't rush me guys," said Humphrey, a six-time Pro Bowl selection who split 13 NFL seasons between the Atlanta Falcons and Philadelphia Eagles.

Guy, a seven-time Pro Bowl selection spent his 14-year career with the Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders. At 64, he was selected for induction in his 23rd year of eligibility.

"It's been long, long overdue, but now the Hall of Fame has a complete team," Guy said.

Williams, an eight-time Pro Bowl selection, was an accounting major at Southern University, who walked on to the football team a week before the start of his junior season.

Selected in the third round of the 1991 draft, he proceeded to split 14 seasons between the Phoenix/Arizona Cardinals and St. Louis Rams. Williams retired after the 2004 season and was selected for induction in his fifth year of eligibility.

"If you would have told me, 'Aeneas, you have to the potential to be one of the best cornerbacks,' I would have thought you were crazy and hit you with my right hand," Williams said. "I'll just take a moment to soak this all in."

Brooks, an 11-time Pro Bowl selection, paid tribute to family members, teammates and coaches, from his Pee-Wee playing days to his 14 NFL seasons in Tampa Bay.

A persistent drizzle fell for much of the afternoon before finally letting up at about 4 p.m., about three hours before the start of the induction ceremony.

Officials moved the ceremony from the front steps of the Hall of Fame building to the stadium in 2002 to make room for the number of Bills fans that traveled to Canton for Kelly's induction.

The ceremony has been held inside the stadium ever since.

And it was Kelly who received a lengthy standing ovation when he was introduced among the Hall of Famers attending the ceremony. Even Kelly's fellow Hall of Famers stood and clapped on stage.


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