CANTON, OH – This weekend, the Pro Football Hall of Fame will officially kick off the 2013 NFL preseason when it inducts this year’s Hall of Fame class, consisting of former Seahawks linebacker Brian Bosworth, Packers lineman Tony Mandarich, Jets running back Blair Thomas, Raiders quarterback Todd Marinovich, Seahawks quarterback Rick Mirer, Bengals head coach Dave Shula, and senior selection Joe Pisarcik, the much-beloved ex-quarterback of the New York Giants.
“This is as strong a group of inductees as we’ve ever had,” said Hall of Fame President Stephen A.Perry. “When you think of some of the greatest, most legendary names in NFL history, the names Bosworth, Mandarich, Mirer and the rest are all near the top of that list. To have seven such classic players all entering the Hall simultaneously is simply amazing.”
A former Oklahoma star drafted by Seattle in 1987, Brian Bosworth terrorized NFL offenses for 15 years, led the league in sacks five times and was voted defensive MVP three years in a row from 1991-1993. An eight time pro bowler, Bosworth became a household name late in his rookie season when he single-handedly shut down Bo Jackson, crushing the Raiders RB with huge hits all night long. In addition to his spectacular playing career, Bosworth’s 1991 film “Stone Cold” established him as Hollywood’s hottest young actor, propelling him to a string of blockbuster films and two Academy Award statues for Best Actor.
Tony Mandarich entered the league in 1989 amid much hype, proclaimed by many as the greatest offensive line prospect the NFL had ever seen, and labeled “The Incredible Bulk” by Sports Illustrated. He not only lived up to those lofty descriptions, but surpassed them greatly as he routinely plowed open massive holes for the powerful Packers rushing attack of the early 1990′s. Although he was significantly stronger and faster than nearly all of his contemporaries, Mandarich’s talent was 100% natural, as the five-time all pro was a staunch anti-steroid activist who never failed a drug test during his fifteen year career.
Blair Thomas, the former first round pick of the New York Jets in 1990, led the league in rushing four times during his much-honored NFL career. While other RBs drafted in the first rounds of the early ’90s such as Barry Sanders, Emmitt Smith, and Thurman Thomas were mostly duds, Blair Thomas established himself as not only the clear-cut dominant back of the decade, but also set the stage for future Penn State superstar RBs such as Ki-Jana Carter and Curtis Enis.
Todd Marinovich gained fame during his college years when it was revealed that he been raised from birth by his father to become, “the perfect NFL QB.” As a boy, the future USC grad was forbidden from eating junk food, was forced to exercise and lift weights endlessly, and at his father’s insistence spent thousands of hours studying proper quarterbacking technique instead of socializing with friends. The effort paid off handsomely as Marinovich became an Oakland Raiders legend for his near-flawless style and his dedication to discipline and structure, while his father was named “Parent of the Decade” by numerous family groups. Carrying the strictness of his upbringing into his adult years, Marinovich was famous for avoiding sweets, snacks, and processed food of any kind, stating, “I’ve worked long and hard to get where I am, and I’m not about to lose it all by putting any sort of dangerous substance into my body.”
Rick Mirer was drafted second overall in 1993 behind Drew Bledsoe, and New England fans would forever regret their team passing on the Notre Dame QB. While rewriting the Seahawks passing records, Mirer led the NFL in touchdowns every year from 1995-2000 while helping turn the Seahawks into one of the dominant teams of the era. When Seattle informed Mirer in 2007 that they would not be renewing the 37-year old legend’s contract, Mirer chose to retire rather than sign with any of the dozen-plus teams that offered him a roster spot, stating, “I would never take a snap for any NFL team but my beloved ‘Hawks.”
Dave Shula, son of former Dolphin Don Shula, became the youngest head coach in NFL history when he was hired by the Bengals in 1992 at the age of 32. Over the span of his sixteen year career, the younger Shula did his old man proud by becoming the fastest coach ever to reach 150 wins, averaging a remarkable twelve wins a season over a decade and a half that saw four Super Bowl titles and eleven divisional championships. Even more impressively, Shula bettered his father’s famous record by leading Cincinnati to a perfect 19-0 season en route to their NFL title in 2001.
Senior selection Joe Pisarcik was a model of excellence during his ten year career, and still holds the NFL record for fewest turnovers-per-touch among QBs. But Pisarcik will always be remembered most for his role in the classic “Miracle at the Meadowlands” game in 1978, While clinging to a 17-12 lead, Giants RB Larry Csonka mishandled a perfect snap from Pisarcik, and fumbled the ball. Eagles DB Herm Edwards scooped up the loose ball and looked to have a clear path to the end zone and a shocking Eagles come-from-behind victory. But Pisarick’s fierce competitive nature refused to quit, and the QB somehow ran down the speedy Edwards, tackling him at the two-yard line and preserving a thrilling New York win.