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Wednesday, November 19, 2003
Yary makes straight line for Hall of Fame
By Wayne Drehs
ESPN.com


TAMPA, Fla. -- Former NFL offensive tackle Ron Yary believed he was a borderline candidate -- at best -- for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

On Saturday, that was good enough as the 15-year veteran of the Minnesota Vikings and Los Angeles Rams was elected. It came as a surprise for Yary, who was in his 14th year of eligibility and had been a finalist six other times.

"I'm elated -- and honored," he said. "When you look at the list of the other candidates this year who didn't make it, you get so very humbled."

Sat., Jan. 27
It's a crime Ron Yary had to wait so long to get into the Hall of Fame, but justice has been served. Yary was one of three dominant linemen of his era. This is a great, well-deserved honor for a class guy and a great football player. Yary was an extremely smart player, he had great technique, and there was a special nastiness about him.

When you are successful and dominate the offensive line position for as long as Yary did, there comes a time when the knees and the legs start to go. But Yary--and superstars like him--their technique became better. Yary always played on good teams and he went to four Super Bowls. He could play in today's NFL and succeed because he had the head and the heart to play with anybody. I'm really happy for him.

Yary, the anchor of the offensive line for the great Vikings teams of the 1970s, was a six-time All-Pro and eight-time All-NFC selection. He played in seven straight Pro Bowls from 1972 to '78, and his tenacity helped the Vikings win the 1969 NFL championship.

During his 14-year career in Minnesota, the Vikings won NFC titles in 1973, '74 and '76, giving Yary a role in Super Bowls IV, VIII, IX and XI. Minnesota lost each of those games.

Yary said Saturday's announcement made the disappointment of those defeats easier to swallow.

"For as long as I've waited for this day, it's made things a lot sweeter," he said. "The first year I was up, I paid close attention to everything, but not as much now. I always felt I was a borderline case at best."

When the Vikings selected Yary as the first player chosen in the 1968 NFL-AFL draft, they used a bonus pick acquired when they traded Fran Tarkenton to the New York Giants the season before.

The two-time consensus All-American at Southern California was the 1967 winner of both the Outland Trophy and Knute Rockne Award, both given to the nation's top lineman.

During his 14 years with the Vikings, Yary missed only two games due to injuries, both coming in 1980 when he suffered a broken ankle. Later that season, he played despite a broken foot.

Following the 1981 season, the Vikings traded the veteran to the Los Angeles Rams for a 10th-round draft pick.

Yary, who was one of three linemen elected Saturday (the others were Jackie Slater and Mike Munchak), said he wasn't surprised by that number and used his election as a platform to call for more linemen to be elected.

"You know, there are other guys who have accomplishments just as worthy that aren't in the Hall yet," he said. "But I guess maybe that's part of the pain and process of getting in."

Wayne Drehs is a staff writer at ESPN.com.





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