The Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2017 contained no Cleveland Browns players, but there was one member who has another local connection.
Defensive End Jason Taylor grew up in Pittsburgh, but he spent his college years at the University of Akron. The one-time Zip was drafted by the Miami Dolphins in 1997 and played 15 seasons in the NFL. During his enshrinement speech in Canton over the weekend, he looked back at his years just up the road in Akron.
“Two guys from the University of Akron came knocking at my door – Gerry Faust and Bob Junko – a kid with no position, too small to really play football, had no idea what I was doing. But you guys gave me a scholarship anyway, you taught me so much, gave me a chance to play this game – and I thank you both for that.
“Back then I couldn’t fathom that over the course of the next two decades, I would travel those 20 miles to be on this stage wearing this jacket.”
Taylor also acknowledged his former NFL coach, Jimmy Johnson, saying he hoped to see him enter the Hall of Fame in the future. Johnson won two Superbowls with the Dallas Cowboys, whose owner – Jerry Jones – was also enshrined over the weekend.
Taylor is one of just four Miami Dolphins players to be elected to the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility. The others are Dan Marino, Warren, Ohio-native Paul Warfield and Jim Langer, who was signed by the Cleveland Browns, cut during training camp, and then went on to win two Superbowls with the Dolphins in the 1970s.
The last Cleveland Browns player to join the Pro Football Hall of Fame was Gene Hickerson in 2007.