Golden Gophers in the Pro Football Hall of Fame
The Pro Football Hall of Fame was officially opened on Sept. 7, 1963. Located in Canton, Ohio, the original two buildings that made up the Hall of Fame were 19,000-square-feet. Inducted that day were the first 17 members, including Minnesota’s Bronko Nagurski. In May of 1971, the Hall of Fame became three buildings and 34,000 total square feet that featured more space for display areas, a movie theater, gift shop and research library. Visitor attendance reached 200,000 annually for the first time that year. Today, new displays and the Game Day Stadium showing the “100-yard Universe”, an NFL Films production, adorn the Hall of Fame.
Minnesota’s seventh and most recent inductee into the Pro Football Hall of Fame was former Gopher quarterback Tony Dungy, who was enshrined into the Hall of Fame on Aug. 6, 2016.
Dungy played for the Gophers from 1973-76 and was the team captain in 1976. After his collegiate career, Dungy signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers. In 1978, he intercepted six passes, second-best in the AFC, and helped the Steelers defeat the Dallas Cowboys in Super Bowl XIII. Dungy was the head coach of the Indianapolis Colts from 2002-08 and led the Colts to their first Super Bowl title in 2007.
Nagurski is the only college player to be named a first team consensus All-American at two different positions before leading the Chicago Bears to three NFL Championships. He was inducted in 1963 as a charter member.
Leo Nomellini was a three-time first team All-Big Ten player for Minnesota as well as a two-time All-American. He later went on to play for the San Francisco 49ers and played in every game of his professional career for 14 years. In 1970, he was named to the NFL’s 25th anniversary team as one of the all-time great defensive tackles. He was inducted in 1969.
Bobby Bell was one of two Golden Gophers who brought the Outland Trophy to the U of M during his career. Bell won the award in 1962 before guiding the Kansas City Chiefs to two Super Bowls. Bell was inducted in 1983.
Bud Grant was an All-Big Ten end in 1948 and 1949 before he eventually became the head coach of the Minnesota Vikings. Grant coached the Vikings to 11 divisional titles and four Super Bowl appearances. He was enshrined in 1994.
Eller was a consensus All-American in 1963 and a three-time All-Big Ten selection during his U of M career. He went on to play 16 seasons in the NFL, 15 with the Minnesota Vikings. He was a five-time All-Pro and started at defensive end in four Super Bowls for the Vikings.
Sanders lettered for Minnesota in 1966 and 1967 as a tight end, earning All-Big Ten honors as a senior. He helped lead the Gophers to an 8-2 record and a share of the Big Ten title in 1967. Sanders moved to tight end as a senior where he caught 21 passes for 276 yards and two touchdowns. He was drafted by the Lions in the third round (74th overall pick) of the 1968 NFL Draft.
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