New Orleans, LA – Seven new members were elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday, including modern-era players Cris Carter, Larry Allen, Jonathan Ogden, and Warren Sapp, along with coach Bill Parcells.
Also getting the nod were lineman Curley Culp and linebacker Dave Robinson, who were elected as senior nominees.
Sapp, Ogden and Allen were voted in during their first year of eligibility, while fellow first-ballot player Michael Strahan was snubbed.
The selection process took nearly eight hours as a 44-member committee whittled the list of modern-day candidates from 15 down to 10.
Tim Brown, in his fourth year of eligibility, was left out of the final 10, as was the late Art Modell, who passed away just before the start of the 2012 season in September. Will Shields, Kevin Greene and Eddie DeBartolo Jr. were also left out of the last 10.
Jerome Bettis, Charles Haley, Andre Reed, Aeneas Williams and Strahan made it to the final 10, but all five will have to wait until next year to try their luck at the Hall of Fame again.
The seven new members were announced during a ceremony at the Super Bowl media center in New Orleans, one day ahead of the game between Baltimore and San Francisco.
All four modern-era players, along with two-time Super Bowl champion coach Parcells received at least 80 percent of the vote to be selected.
"It's not because I'm sad," an emotional Carter said of the tears welling in his eyes. "This is the happiest day of my life."
Carter, a finalist for the sixth straight year, was an eight-time Pro Bowl selection with the Eagles, Vikings and Dolphins from 1987-2002. He compiled 1,101 receptions with 13,899 yards and 130 touchdowns over his 16-year career.
"Those years I didn't make it, I took 2-3 hours to cry and mourn," Carter admitted. "This year I believed I was going to get in the Hall."
Ogden was the first-ever draft pick of the Ravens in 1996 and immediately became a mainstay at offensive tackle, earning 11 Pro Bowl nods during his 12 NFL seasons, all spent in Baltimore. He was an All-Pro six times and helped Baltimore to a 34-7 win over the New York Giants in Super Bowl XXXV after the 2000 season. The UCLA product won the Outland Trophy as the top lineman in college and was selected to the NFL's All-Decade Team of the 2000s.
"My feet haven't touched the ground and I'm a heavy dude," Ogden joked of being named to the Hall of Fame. "It hasn't even hit me yet. Right now I'm just kind of floating."
Allen played 12 seasons on the offensive line with the Dallas Cowboys and two more with San Francisco from 1994-2005. He was elected to 11 Pro Bowls and was an All-Pro seven straight years, helping Dallas to a Super Bowl XXX title after the 1995 campaign. A member of All-Decade Teams of the 1990s and 2000s, Allen played every position on the offensive line, except center, with Dallas.
Allen wasted little time revealing that Cowboys owner Jerry Jones will introduce him in Canton on Aug. 3 when he is inducted into the Hall of Fame.
"He's been like a father figure to me," Allen said of Jones.
Sapp was a seven-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle over a 13-year career with Tampa Bay and Oakland from 1995-2007. He was the 1999 NFL Defensive Player of the Year with the Buccaneers and amassed 96 1/2 sacks despite playing on the interior of the defensive line. A four-time All-Pro, Sapp helped Tampa Bay to the Super Bowl XXXVII title and was a member of the NFL's All-Decade Teams of the 1990s and 2000s.
Parcells' selection inspired the longest debate after being named a finalist in 2001 and '02, when the Hall of Fame's bylaws didn't require a coach to be retired for five years, and again last year. He guided the New York Giants, New England Patriots, New York Jets and Dallas Cowboys, becoming the first coach to lead four teams to the playoffs. In 19 seasons, including two where he was voted Coach of the Year, Parcells went 172-130-1 with a playoff record of 11-8, guiding the Giants to Super Bowl wins after the 1986 and '90 seasons.
"Congratulations to Coach Parcells on his election into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. It is well deserved," Patriots owner Robert Kraft said in a statement. "As a Patriots fan, I will always appreciate the credibility he brought to our franchise as a two-time Super Bowl champion. We had never had a head coach with those credentials. I am very happy for Bill and look forward to his enshrinement ceremonies."
Culp played 14 seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs, Houston Oilers and Detroit Lions from 1968-81. A six-time Pro Bowl selection, he was a member of Kansas City's Super Bowl championship team after the 1969 season and helped the Oilers to back-to-back appearances in the AFC Championship Game in 1978-79.
Robinson spent 10 seasons with Green Bay and two with Washington in a career from 1963-74. He helped the Packers to three straight NFL titles from 1965-67 and wins in the first two Super Bowls.