2024’s Pro Football Hall of Fame Inductees: A Defensive Dream

April 28th, 2024

The NFL Hall of Fame inductees have been decided ahead of the ceremony in August and it looks like there are a whole raft of top defensive players in the selection. With the excitement of the Super Bowl out of the way (huge well done Kansas City Chiefs) and the whispers surrounding the Coach of the Year starting to grow louder, it's the perfect time to take a look at some of the people that are rightly going to be celebrated this year.

If you're on our site, then - chances are - you've heard all these names already, but it's always fun to take a trip down memory lane! Why not remind us of exactly why they're getting their spot in the hallowed hall?

Dwight Freeney

It seems wild that it’s been six years since Freeney announced his retirement from the NFL! But, while it might seem like an awfully long time - don't forget, you must have been retired for five years to even be considered! His last games were played with the Detroit Lions and, obviously, at the ripe old age of 37, he wasn't playing quite the level of football he was known for. But he still provided incredible technical skills and knowledge to the team. His pass-rushing ability was still second to none and if he still remained on the Lions' team even now, we'd probably check out the upcoming NFL lines to see if there was any value to be found. Indeed, Freeney remained an asset right up until the last game of his career.

While it’s electrifying to see a player performing at the top of his game right into his late thirties, it was Freeney's time with the Indianapolis Colts that has earned him his spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. After a successful college football career at Syracuse, he was (understandably) snapped up by the Colts. Freeney was picked 11th overall, in the very first round of the draft. He stayed with the Colts for what would be a truly incredible decade of football. He had formidable speed and strength, but what he became known for was his devastating spin move. Combining power, agility, and enormous strength, Freeney was able to grab the ball and spin away from the defense. This move was poetry in motion and exceptionally difficult for the opposition to counter.

Julius Peppers

It takes a pretty special sportsman to make it in the NFL, but it's just wild that Julius Peppers could also have turned his hand to basketball! During his time at the University of North Carolina, he played for the team in both sports. We might be a little bit biased, but we're delighted he made it to the big-time playing football. Peppers remains one of the top defensive players of recent years, earning his place among the all-time sacks leaders throughout his career.

Alongside Freeney's famous spin move, there is no single 'trick' that Peppers became known for. Instead, he was widely respected as a formidable all-rounder, using speed rushes and bull rushes to overpower his opponents, and become a quarterback's nightmare. When it comes to defensive players, this year's selection really puts the spotlight on the champions. Five of the seven nominees held a defensive role on the field.

Steve McMichael

Another great defensive player that we're delighted to see added to the list is Steve McMichael. Having started his NFL career back in 1980, he's one of the eldest players to be inducted this year. It was with the Chicago Bears that McMichael had the glory days of his career. He stayed with the Bears for more than a decade, strengthening a defense so imposing that they became known as the Monsters of the Midway.

Of course, his career-defining game was in the 1985 Super Bowl, where those very 'monsters' took the Bears all the way to the top. Fans of an impenetrable defense (that haven't seen this game) should devote an evening to checking it out. This iteration of the Chicago Bears was truly the most impressive defense at the time, maybe one that hasn't quite been matched or bettered since.

Devin Hester

Bears fans will likely remember this name too! Devin Hester spent the best part of his NFL career with the Chicago Bears - and who wouldn't after such an electrifying start? During his rookie season he didn't just play in the Super Bowl, he returned the opening kickoff - and scored a touchdown. He was the first person, ever, to achieve this. It ought to come as no surprise that Hester's return kick is what he became the most famous for.

Hester is something of a record hog too! He holds the record for the most returns in NFL history (20, if you're interested). Of these returns, 14 were punt return touchdowns, showing just how powerful Hester was. He used this power not just for fantastic offense, but to help that imposing defense too.

Watching these veritable powerhouses over the years has been a pleasure. It's wonderful to see some of the NFL's most exciting defensive names getting the recognition that they deserve. After all, many times the scorers get the glory, but an impenetrable defense ensures you can't lose.

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