MIAMI — The Hall of Fame will have a landmark class of 20 inductees this summer, highlighted by recent stars Edgerrin James, Troy Polamalu and Isaac Bruce.
Those three were voted to the 2020 class Saturday, along with Broncos safety Steve Atwater and longtime Vikings and Seahawks guard Steve Hutchinson.
Those five were joined on stage during the NFL Honors by centennial slate members who are part of the expanded class: Eagles wide receiver Harold Carmichael, Bears left tackle Jimbo Covert, Cowboys safety Cliff Harris, Steelers safety Donnie Shell, coach Jimmy Johnson, coach Bill Cowher and former commissioner Paul Tagliabue.
Covert, seated between Cowher and Carmichael, was asked if he thought the steel-chinned Cowher was as tough as former Bears coach Mike Ditka.
“I don’t think there’s anybody as tough as Mike Ditka,” Covert said with a laugh. “He was a tough guy to play for, but he was fair.”
The Hall of Fame is also inducting eight deceased players and contributors, including Bears defensive end and linebacker Ed Sprinkle, who played from 1944 to ’55.
The others are Packers safety Bobby Dillon, Jets offensive tackle Winston Hill, Lions defensive tackle Alex Karras, 1920s offensive tackle Duke Slater and Browns wide receiver Mac Speedie, general manager George Young and NFL Films president Steve Sabol.
The rest of the evening was about the current season, and Lamar Jackson landed the top prize as AP Most Valuable Player.
Saints receiver Michael Thomas won Offensive Player of the Year, Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore took the defensive award and the Ravens’ John Harbaugh earned Coach of the Year.
The only Bear up for an award was Allen Robinson, their nominee for Walter Payton Man of the Year. That went to Jaguars defensive end Calais Campbell for his work with disadvantaged children.
“When I think about what Walter Payton stood for, to be on this stage is incredible,” Campbell said. “We should all strive to be more like Walter Payton.”