Tony Gonzalez, the most accomplished tight end in NFL history, Ed Reed, Champ Bailey and London Fletcher are first-year eligible players among the 102 modern-era nominees for the class of 2019 for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Also on the ballot are Steve Hutchinson and Ty Law, the former Michigan offensive guard and cornerback, respectively, who were finalists last year.
Gonzalez retired in 2013 after 17 pro seasons in which he had 1,325 receptions, second to Jerry Rice on the career list. A college basketball and football star at Cal, he was drafted 13th overall by the Chiefs in 1997 and played a dozen seasons in Kansas City. Gonzalez spent his final five seasons with Atlanta, finishing with 111 touchdown catches and 15,127 yards receiving. He made six All-Pro teams and was a member of the all-decade team for 2000-10.
Reed and Bailey were standout defensive backs for stout units. The 24th overall draft selection in 2002, Reed played 11 seasons in Baltimore, three times leading the league in interceptions. Among his 64 career picks were returns for touchdowns of 106 and 107 yards. He made five All-Pro squads, was the 2004 Defensive Player of the Year, and joined Gonzalez on the all-decade team. Reed won a Super Bowl in the 2012 season.
Bailey began his career with Washington in 1999 as the seventh overall draft choice. He moved to Denver in 2004, and led the NFL in interceptions with 10 in 2006. Bailey, who also dabbled on offense, had 52 career picks, made three All-Pro teams and, yes, also was on the all-decade team of 2000-2010.
Fletcher became a starting linebacker in St. Louis in 1999 and won a Super Bowl. A rare undrafted player to be nominated for the Hall of Fame, he missed only one start from 1999-2013 with the Rams, Bills and Redskins. Fletcher made four Pro Bowls and finished his career with 1,380 tackles, 23 interceptions and 39 sacks.
Other finalists from 2018 include running back Edgerrin James; wide receiver Isaac Bruce; offensive linemen Kevin Mawae, lan Faneca and Tony Boselli; and safety John Lynch.
Also on the ballot are longtime Lions Chris Spielman and Lomas Brown; former Michigan State receiver and Detroit native Derrick Mason; former Michigan State linebacker and Flint native Carl Banks; former Michigan offensive tackle Mike Kenn; Jeff Garcia and Dave Krieg, who briefly played quarterback for the Lions; and Marty Schottenheimer, who briefly coached Lions linebackers in the 1970s.
The modern-era nominees will be reduced to 25 semifinalists in November and, from there, to 15 finalists in January. A senior committee finalist, former Chiefs defensive back Johnny Robinson, and two finalists from the contributors category, Broncos owner Pat Bowlen and former Cowboys executive and current NFL consultant Gil Brandt, also have been nominated.
Voting by the 48-member Hall of Fame panel will be held Feb. 2, the day before the Super Bowl, in Atlanta. Inductions in the Canton, Ohio, shrine are in August.
(At) Cincinnati 34, Baltimore 23: Andy Dalton threw four touchdown passes in the first half — three to A.J. Green — against a defense that has bedeviled him throughout his career, and the Bengals held on for the victory over the Ravens.
Dalton knocked the Ravens (1-1) out of playoff contention last season. He sliced-and-diced a defense that has more often gotten the upper hand in their AFC North rivalry, leading Cincinnati (2-0) to an early 21-point lead.
Heading into the game, Dalton had thrown more interceptions (17) than touchdowns (15) against the Ravens, including a four-interception game at Paul Brown Stadium last season. Dalton finished 24 of 42 for 265 yards, throwing four touchdown passes for only the fifth time in his career.
Green set the tone with touchdown catches of 4, 28 and 7 yards on consecutive possessions, a career high. Upset that he fumbled twice during a 34-23 win at Indianapolis on Sunday, he caught everything near him during the Bengals’ early surge. Green finished with five catches for 69 yards.
Dalton’s 14-yard touchdown throw to Tyler Boyd made it 28-7 late in the first half.
Joe Flacco was sharp in an opening 47-3 win over the Bills, but couldn’t do anything against Cincinnati until the Bengals led by three touchdowns. Flacco threw a pair of touchdown passes, including a 21-yarder to John Brown that cut it to 28-23 with 9:35 left.
Flacco fumbled with 2:42 to go — Shawn Williams stripped the ball from behind — setting up a field goal by Randy Bullock that closed it out. He finished 32 of 55 for 376 yards with two touchdowns, two interceptions and four sacks.
Ramsey: I’d hit grandma
No one is safe from Jalen Ramsey’s trash talk. Not even his grandma.
The Jaguars star cornerback and one of the NFL’s most outspoken personalities said he “definitely would” hit his grandmother if she lined up against him on the football field.
“To respect the game, you have to play it fierce,” Ramsey said. “I don’t believe in having friends on the field. I mean, my brother, my dad, my mom, grandma was out there, like it’s on. After the game, we can be cool. It doesn’t matter. That’s how I feel, like, you’ve got to respect the game of football. Football is not a game meant to be played being nice to each other and all that, like kumbaya. After the game’s over with, that’s cool.”
Ramsey wouldn’t really hit his grandmother, would he?
“No, I definitely would,” he said. “She knows that. My grandma knows that. I love you, but she knows that.”
Leonard Fournette is running again and feeling “better and better” about his strained right hamstring. The Jaguars running back also is hopeful he will be able to play against the Patriots on Sunday.
Fournette cautions, though, that his status will “be a game-time decision.”
... Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger missed practice again on Thursday due to an issue with his right elbow.
... Falcons running back Devonta Freeman was held out of practice again, leaving his status uncertain for Sunday.
... Chargers defensive end Joey Bosa will miss Sunday’s game at Buffalo because of a bone bruise to his left foot.
... The Titans limited Marcus Mariota at practice and gave more work to backup Blaine Gabbert, and coach Mike Vrabel says they want to evaluate which quarterback will give them the best chance against the Texans.
... The Seahawks are expected to sign linebacker Mychal Kendricks to a one-year contract despite his recent guilty plea on insider trading charges.
... The Colts waived veteran tight end Erik Swoope.