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Smith heads list of inductees into hall

ALL-TIME sacks leader Bruce Smith, defensive back Rod Woodson and four others made the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday in Tampa, Florida, while former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue was denied entry for the third straight year.

Joining Smith, who led the Buffalo Bills to four straight Super Bowl appearances, and Woodson are longtime Bills owner Ralph Wilson; the late Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Derrick Thomas; former Minnesota Vikings guard Randall McDaniel; and the late Bob Hayes, a standout wide receiver for the Dallas Cowboys and the 1964 Olympic 100 meters gold medalist.

Inductions will be on August 8 in Canton, Ohio.

Tagliabue, who retired in 2006 after 17 years in the job, has met strong resistance in his three years of eligibility despite the profitability and labor peace the league enjoyed during his tenure.

No such problem for Smith and Woodson in their first year on the ballot.

A defensive end, Smith retired five years ago with 200 sacks and made two all-decade teams. Drafted No. 1 overall in 1985, Smith had the most seasons with double-digit sacks (13) and the most playoff sacks (14?). He earned defensive player of the year honors in 1990 and 1996 with Buffalo and concluded his 19-season career with three seasons in Washington.

Smith previously said making the hall would be a bigger honor if two other Bills, Wilson and wide receiver Andre Reed, also got in the same year. He got half of his wish. The 90-year-old Wilson is the only owner the Bills have had since they were a charter member of the AFL in 1960.

"This is a special class. I am overjoyed," Smith said.

"Just thinking about my father and all the sacrifices he and my mother made when I was a child growing up to be a man," he added tearfully. "How he wanted me to have a life better than he had. I just wish he was here. He would be extremely proud of this day."

Woodson the 1993 defensive player of the year, also made the 1990s all-decade team. He led the NFL in interceptions in 1999 and 2002 with Baltimore. He played cornerback and safety in a 17-season career, winning the NFL championship with Baltimore in 2001.

Woodson is the career leader in interception returns for touchdowns with 12.

Thomas, who died nine years ago after an auto accident while still an active player, also was on the 1990s all-decade team and was the 1989 defensive rookie of the year. He is 11th in career sacks with 126?.

McDaniel was that rare guard who was as effective in pass protection as run blocking and could handle even the best defensive linemen singlehandedly. He missed only two games in his 14-season career.


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