Pro Football Hall of Fame 2020: Troy Polamalu and Jimmy Johnson Join a Record 20 New Inductees

"My career started with gold teeth, and ended with this gold jacket," said former Indianapolis Colts running back Edgerrin James during his speech at the event Saturday night

Jimmy Johnson and Troy Polamalu
Photo: Ron Schwane-Pool/Getty (2)

A record-setting 20 former NFL players, coaches, and contributors have been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame as members of the Class of 2020.

On Saturday, inductees unveiled their commemorative bronze busts at the annual ceremony in Canton, Ohio (Last year's event was postponed due to the pandemic).

Twelve members of the 2020 class appeared in person, including Pittsburgh Steelers safety Troy Polamalu and head coach Bill Cowher, Dallas Cowboys head coach Jimmy Johnson, and Indianapolis Colts running back Edgerrin James. Eight others were elected posthumously.

The three-day affair included three separate events: the Hall of Fame Game between the Steelers and Cowboys on Thursday, the Gold Jacket ceremony on Friday, and the induction ceremony on Saturday.

The Steelers were well represented at this year's induction, with devoted Pittsburgh fans swarming Canton to celebrate Cowher, Polamalu, and Donnie Shell. Fellow Hall of Famers Mel Blount, Franco Harris, Lynn Swann, John Stallworth, Dermontti Dawson, and Rod Woodson made the trek to Tom Benson Stadium for the special occasion.

Unlike the 11 other inductees, Polamalu, 40, received his jacket Saturday night after missing Friday's event after contracting COVID-19 earlier in the week. He was cleared to participate in Saturday's ritual, where he delivered a powerful speech.

Members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Centennial Class, (L-R) Donnie Shell, Cliff Harris, Isaac Bruce, Troy Polamalu, Bill Cowher, Harold Carmichael, Jimbo Covert, Steve Hutchinson, Steve Atwater, Edgerrin James, and Jimmy Johnson, pose during the induction ceremony at the Pro Football Hall of Fame on August 7, 2021 in Canton, Ohio.
Ron Schwane-Pool/Getty

"I love football. It was my entire life since as long as I can remember," the retired safety said in his acceptance speech, detailing the "obsession" he developed for the game early in life.

He later added: "What I truly appreciate about the Steelers way, is that at its core it's the success of a family, a culture based on the essential virtues any person respects and honors. Humility, passion, resilience, service and legacy."

Johnson, who coached the Dallas Cowboys to two Super Bowl victories in 1993 and 1994, said he "was never a dreamer," but rather a believer.

As noted in the 78-year-old's speech, the Cowboys went 1-15 in Johnson's first season as head coach in 1989. But the former NFL Coach of the Year powered forward with his mission to win the Super Bowl — and succeeded.

"When I was at Dallas they said, 'What makes you think you can win a Super Bowl with a team that just went 1-15?' I didn't dream about it. I believed we were going to win a Super Bowl," he said.

"When you believe something, it affects something about how you act, how you deal with people," Johnson continued. "Your expectations and the expectations you put on them. You treat a person as he is, he's going to stay as he is. Treat a person as he could be or should be, and watch him become what he should be or could be."

James, 43, gave one of the most electric speeches of the night. First, he lauded fellow Hall of Famer and former Colts quarterback Peyton Manning for his excellence, noting they "connected like brothers" on the field, though they "couldn't be more different as people."

The retired running back then gave a shoutout to every coach and mentor that gave him a chance despite his image. "To all those who have been judged prematurely because of their appearance, the way they speak, where they come from and in the minds of many feel they should be locked up in prison," he said, "I represent us."

"I'm forever immortalized. Locked up in the Canton Correctional Institution," James added. "Inmate number three three six in the Pro Football Hall of Fame."

"My career started with gold teeth, and ended with this gold jacket."

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