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Lewis, Moss, Owens, Urlacher lead party of 8 into football Hall

The Associated Press

Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis before a preseason game in August 2012

The Associated Press MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Ray Lewis and Brian Urlacher terrorized opposing offenses from the middle of the field. Randy Moss and Terrell Owens did the same to defenses on the outside.

The two hard-hitting linebackers and two big-play receivers highlighted an eight-person class voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday. Safety Brian Dawkins also received at least 80 percent support from the 47 Hall of Fame voters, along with contributor Bobby Beathard and senior nominees Jerry Kramer and Robert Brazile.

But the biggest stars of the class are the two linebackers that made it on their first tries, and the pair of lightning-rod receiver who sometimes caused as many problems for their own teams as for the opposition. Moss also made it on his first try, while Owens needed to wait for his third year on the ballot to get enough support.

“I’ve been going a long time. And now I can finally rest,” Lewis said. “I want to go fishing with a cigar now and just sit back. I don’t want to work out every day now.”

Moss and Owens each played for five teams in their careers as they often wore out their welcome with their inability to get along with teammates and coaches at times.

But at their best, there were few players ever able to strike fear in defenses as much as Moss and Owens, who were both all-decade selections for the 2000s.

“The door knocked and I started getting excited,” Moss said of Hall of Fame President David Baker alerting him he has been elected. “All the emotions caught the best of me because it’s been a long journey and it ends in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Tears of joy.”

Moss burst on the scene as a rookie in Minnesota in 1998 when he caught a league-leading 17 TD catches and helped lead the Vikings to the NFC title game. His combination of speed and athleticism made him the game’s most dangerous big-play threat and led to the phrase “You got Mossed” for embarrassed defensive backs.

He led the NFL in TD catches five times, including his record 23 for New England in 2007, and earned four All-Pro selections. He finished his career with 982 catches for 15,292 yards and ranks second all-time with 156 TD receptions.

Owens, who didn’t attend the announcement, entered the league as a third-round pick by San Francisco in 1996 but developed into a star known for some memorable playoff appearances, including his nine catches for 122 yards in the 2004 Super Bowl against New England just seven weeks after breaking his leg.

Owens ranks second to Jerry Rice with 15,934 yards receiving and is third on the all-time touchdowns receiving list with 153.

Lewis is widely considered one of the greatest middle linebackers, winning two AP Defensive Player of the Year awards and earning eight All-Pro selections. He anchored a dominant defense for the 2000 Baltimore Ravens in a season that ended with him winning Super Bowl MVP, then retired as a champion after Baltimore closed his last season with a title win over San Francisco in February 2013.

“Growing up as a child, I know what that looked like, Mike Singletary, Dick Butkus,” Lewis said. “Who dreams of being in that category, sitting with those guys?”

Urlacher wasn’t far behind Lewis with his play on the field and is the latest in a line of great Chicago middle linebackers to make the Hall, joining Butkus, Singletary and Bill George. He was the Defensive Player of the Year of 2005 and joined Lewis on the 2000s all-decade team.

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