Buoniconti, Swann, Yary finally reach Hall

Levy, Munchak, Slater, Youngblood also gain election in 2001 class

January 28, 2001|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

TAMPA, Fla. - The wait is finally over for Nick Buoniconti, Lynn Swann and Ron Yary.

Buoniconti, Swann and Yary joined Marv Levy, Mike Munchak, Jackie Slater and Jack Youngblood as the Class of 2001 inductees to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, it was announced yesterday.

Buoniconti, a linebacker who spent half his 14-year career with the Miami Dolphins, had waited 20 years to be chosen by the Hall's 38-member selection committee and joined a group of 14 finalists as a nominee of the Seniors Committee.

Eight other finalists - Harry Carson, Dave Casper, Dan Hampton, Lester Hayes, Art Monk, Bill Parcells, John Stallworth and Ralph Wilson - failed to receive the necessary votes.

"As I go into Canton, I won't be just representing Nick Buoniconti, but I'll also be representing a `No-Name Defense' that definitely had a lot of names," said Buoniconti, the driving force of a Miami unit that won two Super Bowls and completed a perfect 17-0 season in 1972. "I'm just so proud to be going."

Swann and Yary were in their 14th year of eligibility. Swann, a wide receiver who played nine seasons for the Pittsburgh Steelers and was the Most Valuable Player of Super Bowl X, said he recalled watching Franco Harris cry when he was inducted several years ago.

"I always said that's not going to be me," said Swann, a college football reporter for ABC. "I cried all the way over here."

Yary, a six-time All-Pro offensive tackle for the Minnesota Vikings and Los Angeles Rams, said this was the first year he paid attention to the announcement on television.

"I don't know if I deserved it," Yary said. "I always thought I was a borderline case at best."

Youngblood and Slater were teammates with the Rams. Youngblood, a five-time All-Pro defensive end who missed only one game in 14 seasons, was relieved to be chosen after waiting 12 years.

"I've thought of this moment for several years now," he said. " `Wow' is the first reaction that comes out."

Slater played 20 seasons as an offensive tackle, but thought he hadn't made it in his first year of eligibility when the Hall's executive president, John Bankert, dropped an envelope with Slater's name and announced just six honorees.

"I said, `OK, I'll go next year,' " Slater said via telephone. "Then I thought I heard somebody yell my name, and sure enough, John picks up the paper and said my name. I said, `All right.' "

Munchak was named an All-Pro four times as a guard for the Houston Oilers. He had planned on attending his daughter's basketball game until he turned on the television and heard his name.

"I assumed I'd be getting a call if I made it," Munchak said in response to a query asking why he hadn't planned ahead to observe the announcement. "It's an amazing honor, something you dream about happening to you."

Levy is the only non-player selected to the Class of 2001. The 17-year head coach guided the Buffalo Bills to an unprecedented four consecutive Super Bowls, but never won the game. Yesterday, he joked about that hurdle.

"It's great, by the way, to have something to celebrate on a Super Bowl weekend," he said with a grin.

The seven men will be inducted on Aug. 4 in Canton, Ohio.

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