CANTON, Ohio — After some waited decades to get the call from the Pro Football Hall of Fame, they waited an additional twelve months for the ceremony because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Class of 2020 and the Centennial class both got their moment Saturday night.
Fifteen were elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2020 as part of its Centennial Class. The group was selected to honor the NFL’s 100th anniversary. The Class of 2020 included former Pittsburgh Steelers safety Troy Polamalu, former Broncos safety Steve Atwater, former Vikings and Seahawks guard Steve Hutchinson, former Rams wide receiver Isaac Bruce and former Colts running back Edgerrin James.
Twelve inductees are scheduled to participate in the ceremony in person. Polamalu has been at home since late last month and his status for the enshrinement ceremony had been in doubt after testing positive for COVID-19. But he was cleared medically to travel to Canton and he took part in the Hall of Fame parade in the morning and was to be the 10th speaker to the podium Saturday night.
Polamalu, who didn’t get his gold jacket with the rest of the class on Friday, was officially awarded a gold jacket to open the ceremony.
Five members of the Class of 2020 and seven members of the Centennial class were to take part Saturday night. Eight additional members of the Centennial class will be honored posthumously during the ceremony.
Two members of the Centennial class — Harold Carmichael and Cliff Harris — were scheduled to open the evening and the final two speakers of the evening were also each from the Centennial class — Jimmy Johnson and Bill Cowher.
The other Centennial class enshrinees to speak at Saturday’s ceremony were former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue, former safety Donnie Shell and former tackle Jimbo Covert. There were video tributes scheduled throughout the ceremony to honor the eight members of the Centennial class who were enshrined posthumously — Bobby Dillon, Winston Hill, Alex Karras, Steve Sabol, Duke Slater, Mac Speedie, Ed Sprinkle and George Young.
Because of the size of the class and the trend of some of the enshrinees’ speeches topping 20 or 30 minutes in recent years, the Hall of Fame has told each of them that their remarks were not to exceed six minutes and that an Academy Awards-style musical cue would be used at eight minutes.