Rice, Smith lead star-studded Class of 2010

From the 49ers-Cowboys NFC championship rivalry all the way through their respective successful stints on "Dancing With The Stars," Jerry Rice and Emmitt Smith have had an intriguing link as the two of the premier record-breakers to play football.

In a game where what matters most is scoring touchdowns, they rank Nos. 1 and 2 in NFL history. Rice leads with 208 career touchdowns, followed by Smith with 175.

So it’s appropriate they are being enshrined as Hall of Famers together on Saturday night in Canton, Ohio, because they’ve both set the bar high at their positions with their durability and work ethic.

As the game’s documentarian, NFL Films president Steve Sabol has seen plenty of footage of both men in action, talked to hundreds of personnel men and players and coaches about these two greats. For Sabol, the proof of their dominance lies in the numbers.

Take Rice’s most impressive number: 22,985 receiving yards. That total is 34 percent higher than that of the No. 2 man on the career receiving list, Isaac Bruce.

"Rice just doesn’t hold records; he dominates categories," Sabol said. "His career stands as the statistical Everest over the landscape of football."

As for Smith, the NFL’s career rushing record (18,355 yards) comes with an even more impressive stat.

"The most enduring thing about Emmitt is how many carries he had and then how many times he was hit," Sabol said.

Although Rice and Smith often left opponents flustered, along the way, they gained respect from the players and coaches they faced.

"They were incredible at what they did, and you also remember them for being the two of the well-conditioned athletes you’ll ever see," said former Bears and Saints coach Mike Ditka, now an analyst for ESPN. "I certainly enjoyed watching them in every way.

"They both gave everything they got."

Induction Class of 2010

Jerry Rice

Position: WR
NFL career: 1985-2004
College: Mississippi Valley State
NFL teams: 49ers, Raiders, Seahawks
Pro Bowls: 13
Super Bowls: Four (three wins)
Best known as: The best wide receiver of all time and, arguably, the best football player of all time.
Claim to Fame: Rice set the bar for all wide receivers to come with his passion and consistent excellence, and few ever will forget his glorious Super Bowl years in San Francisco catching passes from fellow Hall of Famers Joe Montana and Steve Young.
Notable quotes:

"He sets the standard for everyone else." — Hall of Fame QB Joe Montana

"He worked so hard to run the offense. It was built for guys like him. It was timing. It was artistry. It wasn’t just ‘Hey go out there and get open.’ " — Hall of Fame QB Steve Young

"Jerry Rice doesn’t rank in the all-time greats. He is the greatest receiver and maybe the greatest football player of all time." — Saints S Darren Sharper

"Jerry always told me that he never played the perfect game. In his mind, that’s a lofty deal. A lot of people would take a few of his games as perfection." — Hall of Fame DB Ronnie Lott

"It wasn’t about the records. … I enjoyed going out on Sunday in front of 60,000 people and entertaining those people. The way I conducted myself, on and off the field as a professional athlete, the way I wore the uniform, I took pride in that." ¬ Rice

Emmitt Smith

Position: RB
NFL career: 1990-2004
College: Florida
NFL teams: Cowboys, Cardinals
Pro Bowls: Eight
Super Bowls: Three (three wins)
Best known as: The NFL’s all-time leading rusher. Claim to Fame: Smith was the heart and soul of the Cowboys’ Super Bowl teams in 1990s, surviving years of wear and tear to surpass Walter Payton’s once seemingly unbreakable career rushing record.
Notable quotes:

"He’s as much a part of the Cowboys as the star." — Cowboys owner Jerry Jones

"He’s passed the test of time. He’s been there year after year, playing at a high level and with a lot of consistency. He plays the game like it’s supposed to be played. He’s a pro’s pro." — Hall of Fame RB Tony Dorsett

"Some guys have a bad ankle or a charley horse and they say they can’t play. But Emmitt is a team player and he realizes that him on one leg is better than the second guy on three legs." — Hall of Fame RB Gale Sayers

"He would be the first to say he’s a product of the people in front of him, but (linemen) can only gain you so many yards. He did the rest." — Hall of Fame RB Marcus Allen

"For me, winning isn’t something that happens suddenly on the field when the whistle blows and the crowds roar. Winning is something that builds physically and mentally every day that you train and every night that you dream." — Smith

Russ Grimm

Position: G
NFL career: 1981-1991
College: Pitt
NFL team: Redskins
Pro Bowls: Four
Super Bowls: Four (three wins)
Best known as: The integral interior force of the "Hogs", one of NFL history’s most physically dominant offensive lines.
Claim to Fame: Lining up next to star left tackle Joe Jacoby, Grimm brought a rare combination of power and speed to create big holes in the running game and also excel in pass protection.
Notable quote: "Russ was the consummate athlete, everything came easy to him. He was exceptionally quick, had great feet, very fine strength, and was a very smart player. Russ was a great puller, a great trapper, could make terrific adjustments in ballgames. He had it all." — Jim Hanifan, former Redskins offensive line coach

Rickey Jackson

Position: OLB
NFL career: 1981-1995
College: Pitt
NFL teams: Saints, 49ers
Pro Bowls: Six
Super Bowls: None
Best known as: A premier pass rusher and prolific tackler.
Claim to Fame: Entering the league in the final year sacks were not recognized as stats, he racked up an unofficial total of 136 over 15 years, including six seasons in double-digits.
Notable quote: "There was nothing he couldn’t do. You couldn’t say he could do this but not do that. He could rush the passer. He could play the run. He could drop into coverage. He could do all those things." — former Saints and Colts coach Jim Mora

Dick LeBeau

Position: CB
NFL career: 1959-1972
College: Ohio State
NFL team: Lions
Pro Bowls: Three
AFL All-Star games: Two
Super Bowls: None
Best known as: An ironman cornerback and, as a coach, the inventor of the zone blitz.
Claim to Fame: As a reliable, durable secondary stalwart for the Lions, he made his mark as a big playmaker with 62 career interceptions. As a defensive guru, his attacking 3-4 scheme is now used all around the NFL.
Notable quote: "I fashion myself to be a historian of the game. His consecutive games streak at the cornerback position probably won’t be broken. This guy played in 171 consecutive games at corner in the NFL. That alone is special." — Steelers coach Mike Tomlin

Floyd Little

Position: RB
NFL career: 1967-1975
College: Syracuse
NFL team: Broncos
Pro Bowls: Five
Super Bowls: None
Best known as: The dynamic playmaker who put a struggling former AFL team on the map in the NFL.
Claim to Fame: He was more than the face of the Broncos at that time; Little’s arms and legs made him a successful triple threat — runner, receiver, returner — who racked up 8,741 yards from scrimmage.
Notable quote: "Floyd Little helped build the Denver Broncos in the early years and created the opportunity for myself and others to come to Denver and play for a great franchise with the best fans in the world. Floyd was not only a special player but is a man of great character and integrity." — former Broncos WR Ed McCaffrey

John Randle

Position: DT
NFL career: 1990-2003
Colleges: Trinity Valley Community College (Texas); Texas A&I NFL teams: Vikings, Seahawks
Pro Bowls: Seven
Super Bowls: None
Best known as: An unrelenting, always-hustling player who backed up his constant yapping by being a disruptive nightmare to opponents. Claim to Fame: He amassed 137 1/2 sacks, tied for sixth all-time with Richard Dent and first among defensive linemen who primarily played tackle.
Notable quote: "I was lucky to see first-hand what a player of his caliber dedicated to his day-to-day routine. You couldn’t help but work harder when he was going full-bore every day. He made all of us on the offensive line better by facing him at practice." — Vikings G Steve Hutchinson

From the 49ers-Cowboys NFC championship rivalry all the way through their respective successful stints on "Dancing With The Stars," Jerry Rice and Emmitt Smith have had an intriguing link as the two of the premier record-breakers to play football.

In a game where what matters most is scoring touchdowns, they rank Nos. 1 and 2 in NFL history. Rice leads with 208 career touchdowns, followed by Smith with 175.

So it’s appropriate they are being enshrined as Hall of Famers together on Saturday night in Canton, Ohio, because they’ve both set the bar high at their positions with their durability and work ethic.

As the game’s documentarian, NFL Films president Steve Sabol has seen plenty of footage of both men in action, talked to hundreds of personnel men and players and coaches about these two greats. For Sabol, the proof of their dominance lies in the numbers.

Take Rice’s most impressive number: 22,985 receiving yards. That total is 34 percent higher than that of the No. 2 man on the career receiving list, Isaac Bruce.

"Rice just doesn’t hold records; he dominates categories," Sabol said. "His career stands as the statistical Everest over the landscape of football."

As for Smith, the NFL’s career rushing record (18,355 yards) comes with an even more impressive stat.

"The most enduring thing about Emmitt is how many carries he had and then how many times he was hit," Sabol said.

Although Rice and Smith often left opponents flustered, along the way, they gained respect from the players and coaches they faced.

"They were incredible at what they did, and you also remember them for being the two of the well-conditioned athletes you’ll ever see," said former Bears and Saints coach Mike Ditka, now an analyst for ESPN. "I certainly enjoyed watching them in every way.

"They both gave everything they got."

Induction Class of 2010

Jerry Rice

Position: WR
NFL career: 1985-2004
College: Mississippi Valley State
NFL teams: 49ers, Raiders, Seahawks
Pro Bowls: 13
Super Bowls: Four (three wins)
Best known as: The best wide receiver of all time and, arguably, the best football player of all time.
Claim to Fame: Rice set the bar for all wide receivers to come with his passion and consistent excellence, and few ever will forget his glorious Super Bowl years in San Francisco catching passes from fellow Hall of Famers Joe Montana and Steve Young.
Notable quotes:

"He sets the standard for everyone else." — Hall of Fame QB Joe Montana

"He worked so hard to run the offense. It was built for guys like him. It was timing. It was artistry. It wasn’t just ‘Hey go out there and get open.’ " — Hall of Fame QB Steve Young

"Jerry Rice doesn’t rank in the all-time greats. He is the greatest receiver and maybe the greatest football player of all time." — Saints S Darren Sharper

"Jerry always told me that he never played the perfect game. In his mind, that’s a lofty deal. A lot of people would take a few of his games as perfection." — Hall of Fame DB Ronnie Lott

"It wasn’t about the records. … I enjoyed going out on Sunday in front of 60,000 people and entertaining those people. The way I conducted myself, on and off the field as a professional athlete, the way I wore the uniform, I took pride in that." ¬ Rice

Emmitt Smith

Position: RB
NFL career: 1990-2004
College: Florida
NFL teams: Cowboys, Cardinals
Pro Bowls: Eight
Super Bowls: Three (three wins)
Best known as: The NFL’s all-time leading rusher. Claim to Fame: Smith was the heart and soul of the Cowboys’ Super Bowl teams in 1990s, surviving years of wear and tear to surpass Walter Payton’s once seemingly unbreakable career rushing record.
Notable quotes:

"He’s as much a part of the Cowboys as the star." — Cowboys owner Jerry Jones

"He’s passed the test of time. He’s been there year after year, playing at a high level and with a lot of consistency. He plays the game like it’s supposed to be played. He’s a pro’s pro." — Hall of Fame RB Tony Dorsett

"Some guys have a bad ankle or a charley horse and they say they can’t play. But Emmitt is a team player and he realizes that him on one leg is better than the second guy on three legs." — Hall of Fame RB Gale Sayers

"He would be the first to say he’s a product of the people in front of him, but (linemen) can only gain you so many yards. He did the rest." — Hall of Fame RB Marcus Allen

"For me, winning isn’t something that happens suddenly on the field when the whistle blows and the crowds roar. Winning is something that builds physically and mentally every day that you train and every night that you dream." — Smith

Russ Grimm

Position: G
NFL career: 1981-1991
College: Pitt
NFL team: Redskins
Pro Bowls: Four
Super Bowls: Four (three wins)
Best known as: The integral interior force of the "Hogs", one of NFL history’s most physically dominant offensive lines.
Claim to Fame: Lining up next to star left tackle Joe Jacoby, Grimm brought a rare combination of power and speed to create big holes in the running game and also excel in pass protection.
Notable quote: "Russ was the consummate athlete, everything came easy to him. He was exceptionally quick, had great feet, very fine strength, and was a very smart player. Russ was a great puller, a great trapper, could make terrific adjustments in ballgames. He had it all." — Jim Hanifan, former Redskins offensive line coach

Rickey Jackson

Position: OLB
NFL career: 1981-1995
College: Pitt
NFL teams: Saints, 49ers
Pro Bowls: Six
Super Bowls: None
Best known as: A premier pass rusher and prolific tackler.
Claim to Fame: Entering the league in the final year sacks were not recognized as stats, he racked up an unofficial total of 136 over 15 years, including six seasons in double-digits.
Notable quote: "There was nothing he couldn’t do. You couldn’t say he could do this but not do that. He could rush the passer. He could play the run. He could drop into coverage. He could do all those things." — former Saints and Colts coach Jim Mora

Dick LeBeau

Position: CB
NFL career: 1959-1972
College: Ohio State
NFL team: Lions
Pro Bowls: Three
AFL All-Star games: Two
Super Bowls: None
Best known as: An ironman cornerback and, as a coach, the inventor of the zone blitz.
Claim to Fame: As a reliable, durable secondary stalwart for the Lions, he made his mark as a big playmaker with 62 career interceptions. As a defensive guru, his attacking 3-4 scheme is now used all around the NFL.
Notable quote: "I fashion myself to be a historian of the game. His consecutive games streak at the cornerback position probably won’t be broken. This guy played in 171 consecutive games at corner in the NFL. That alone is special." — Steelers coach Mike Tomlin

Floyd Little

Position: RB
NFL career: 1967-1975
College: Syracuse
NFL team: Broncos
Pro Bowls: Five
Super Bowls: None
Best known as: The dynamic playmaker who put a struggling former AFL team on the map in the NFL.
Claim to Fame: He was more than the face of the Broncos at that time; Little’s arms and legs made him a successful triple threat — runner, receiver, returner — who racked up 8,741 yards from scrimmage.
Notable quote: "Floyd Little helped build the Denver Broncos in the early years and created the opportunity for myself and others to come to Denver and play for a great franchise with the best fans in the world. Floyd was not only a special player but is a man of great character and integrity." — former Broncos WR Ed McCaffrey

John Randle

Position: DT
NFL career: 1990-2003
Colleges: Trinity Valley Community College (Texas); Texas A&I NFL teams: Vikings, Seahawks
Pro Bowls: Seven
Super Bowls: None
Best known as: An unrelenting, always-hustling player who backed up his constant yapping by being a disruptive nightmare to opponents. Claim to Fame: He amassed 137 1/2 sacks, tied for sixth all-time with Richard Dent and first among defensive linemen who primarily played tackle.
Notable quote: "I was lucky to see first-hand what a player of his caliber dedicated to his day-to-day routine. You couldn’t help but work harder when he was going full-bore every day. He made all of us on the offensive line better by facing him at practice." — Vikings G Steve Hutchinson

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