After being their first round pick in 2002, defensive end Dwight Freeney spent ten years with the Indianapolis Colts.
Freeney retired as a Colt through a one-day contract in 2018. After 16 seasons in the league, he recorded 125.5 sacks and was a seven-time Pro Bowler.
Drafted by the Chicago Bears in the second round of the 2006 draft, Devin Hester is joining the Hall of Fame for his 12-year career as a wide receiver and return specialist. In his 12-year career, he also played for the Falcon, Ravens and Seahawks.
Hester said that his induction gives credibility to special teams and gives hope that special teams will not be overlooked.
As the inaugural member of the organization’s Ring of Honor, Andre Johnson became the first inductee from the Houston Texans. The wide receiver was the third overall draft pick and went on to set several Texans franchise records.
After 12 seasons in Houston, Johnson played for the Colts and the Tennessee Titans for two years. He had the opportunity to retire as a Texan through a one-day contract in 2016. Johnson ended his career with 70 touchdowns, over 14,000 receiving yards and seven Pro Bowls.
All the respect for our Hall of Famer 🤘 pic.twitter.com/9OzUnlvh8Y
— Houston Texans (@HoustonTexans) February 9, 2024
As the second overall pick in the 2002 NFL Draft, Julius Peppers played ten seasons with the Carolina Panthers. The defensive end recorded 159.5 sacks in 17 seasons. Following one last year with the Panthers, he retired in 2018.
Having spent his entire eight-year career with the San Francisco 49ers, linebacker Patrick Willis was a seven-time Pro Bowler. Recording 950 tackles, Willis walked away from football in 2015.
This seven-time Pro Bowl Linebacker for the Denver Broncos was named a Hall of Famer after a long time of waiting. He was a finalist in 2003 and 2008, but 2024 was Randy Gradishar’s year.
— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) February 9, 2024
He was the 14th pick by the Broncos in the 1974 NFL Draft. In his 10 year career in Denver, he was Defensive Player of the Year in 1978 and a five-time All-Pro player.
Gradishar competed in one Super Bowl, leading Denver to its first in 1978.
After the New England Patriots took him off the board in the 1980 NFL Draft, Steve McMichael played 15 seasons for the Chicago Bears as a defensive tackle. He retired in 1994 as a Green Bay Packer with 95 sacks.
McMichael was unable to attend the NFL Honors on Thursday night due to his fight with ALS.