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Greene, Upshaw, Langer Make Pro Football Hall on First Try; Seven Elected

January 28, 1987|Associated Press

CANTON, Ohio — Running backs Larry Csonka and John Henry Johnson, quarterback Len Dawson, defensive tackle Joe Greene, offensive linemen Jim Langer and Gene Upshaw and receiver Don Maynard were voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame Tuesday.

The seven elected, swelling the ranks of the Hall of Fame to 140, will make up the largest group to be inducted since 1971.

Greene, Upshaw and Langer all made it in their first year of eligibility, the first time since 1977 that three players were inducted in their first year for consideration.

Johnson was the recommended candidate of the Old-Timers Committee, which nominates players who played most of their careers before 1962.

Csonka, who rushed for 8,081 yards and 64 touchdowns in his 11-year career, and Langer, who spent most of his 10 seasons with the Miami Dolphins, join wide receiver Paul Warfield as Hall of Fame selections from the Dolphins' championship years.

Csonka, a 6-foot-3, 235-pound fullback, was the most valuable player in the Dolphins' victory in Super Bowl VIII. He played for the Dolphins in two stints, and also saw action for the New York Giants and in the defunct World Football League.

Langer, a 6-2, 253-pound center, was claimed on waivers by the Dolphins and went on to be named to the Pro Bowl six times. He played every offensive down of the Dolphins' perfect 1972 season.

Greene and Johnson became the sixth and seventh Steelers voted into the Hall of Fame, the first former Steelers inducted since Ernie Stautner in 1969.

Greene, nicknamed "Mean Joe," played in 10 Pro Bowls and four Super Bowls during his 13-year career with the Steelers. He played in 91 consecutive games from 1969 to 1975 and was named the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 1972 and 1974.

Johnson rushed for 6,803 yards and 48 touchdowns during a 13-year career with the San Francisco 49ers, Steelers and Houston Oilers. He spent his finest seasons with the Steelers, rushing for more than 1,000 yards in both 1962 and 1966.

Dawson became the third former Kansas City Chief player voted into the Hall, joining Bobby Bell and Willie Lanier. Dawson passed for 28,711 yards and 239 touchdowns during a 19-year career with the Steelers, Cleveland Browns, Dallas Texans and Chiefs. He led the Texans to the AFL championship in 1962, winning league player of the year honors, then went on to be named the most valuable player in Super Bowl IV as the Chiefs upset the Minnesota Vikings.

Upshaw, now the executive director of the National Football League Players Assn., spent his entire 15-year career as a guard with the Oakland Raiders. The 6-5, 255-pound Upshaw participated in Super Bowls II, XI and XV with the Raiders.

Along with Jim Parker, Upshaw became one of only two guards from the modern era to be inducted. Upshaw was the fourth Raider inducted, following George Blanda, Jim Otto and Willie Brown into the Hall.

Maynard joins his old New York Jet battery-mate, Joe Namath, as the only former Jet players in the Hall of Fame. Maynard spent 15 seasons with the New York Giants, New York Titans, the Jets and the St. Louis Cardinals, catching 663 passes for 11,834 yards and 88 touchdowns.

Enshrinement of the 1987 class will take place at the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Aug. 8.

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