Oct 29, 2023; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Former Carolina Panthers great Julius Peppers is honored on the field before the game at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Former Bears Devin Hester, Julius Peppers part of seven-member Class of 2024

A trio of former Chicago Bears players were among seven players to be selected for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2024, the NFL announced Thursday night.

Devin Hester, Julius Peppers and Steve McMichael each will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, this summer. They will join four others: longtime Indianapolis Colts defensive end Dwight Freeney, Houston Texans wideout Andre Johnson, Denver Broncos linebacker Randy Gradishar and San Francisco 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis.

McMichael and Gradishar were senior selections, while the other five were part of the modern class.

The Hall of Fame is filled almost entirely with offensive and defensive stars, but Hester got the nod for his achievements on special teams. He holds the NFL record with 20 overall return touchdowns, as well as the league record with 14 punt return TDs.

Hester’s highlights included returning the opening kickoff of Super Bowl XLI for a touchdown against Indianapolis. He also caught 255 passes for 3,311 yards and 16 touchdowns during his career.

“Devin revolutionized the game,” Bears chairman George McCaskey said. “No one had seen anything like him, and there hasn’t been anyone like him since. He had opposing head coaches telling their special teams coordinators, ‘Don’t kick to that guy,’ and they suffered the consequences when the message didn’t get through. We’re delighted that the Hall has recognized Devin’s special talents.”

Johnson also stood apart with his ability to find the end zone. The Texans’ first-round pick in 2003 finished his career with 1,062 catches and 70 touchdowns, and he finished with seven 1,000-yard seasons during his 14-year career.

On the defensive side, Freeney earned the call to Canton in his second year of eligibility. He led the NFL with 16 sacks in 2004 and finished his career with 125 1/2 sacks in 218 games.

Willis’ wait ended after five years of eligibility. Although his career was shortened because of injuries, he finished with seven Pro Bowl selections in eight years with the 49ers.

Peppers burst onto the scene with the Carolina Panthers in 2002, finishing his rookie season with 12 sacks, five forced fumbles and an interception in 12 games. The defensive end went on to star for the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers before returning to Carolina to finish his career. He is the only player in NFL history to rack up at least 150 sacks and 10 interceptions.

McMichael, affectionately known as “Mongo” by Bears fans, was a key part of Chicago’s 1985 Super Bowl championship team. The defensive lineman finished his career with 95 sacks and 13 forced fumbles and gained notoriety for his fearless playing style. The honor was bittersweet as McMichael is battling ALS and was unable to attend the announcement in Las Vegas.

Gradishar was named to seven Pro Bowls during his 10-year career with the Broncos. He was voted the NFL’s defensive player of the year in 1978, and he finished with 20 interceptions, 13 fumble recoveries and four defensive touchdowns to go along with 19 1/2 sacks and more than 2,000 tackles.

–Field Level Media

Nov 28, 2021; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA;  Carolina Panthers former defensive end Julius Peppers sits in the stands prior to the game between the Miami Dolphins and the Carolina Panthers at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Panthers honoring Julius Peppers, Muhsin Muhammad

The Carolina Panthers are welcoming Julius Peppers and Muhsin Muhammad to their Hall of Honor this fall.

Peppers is the franchise’s career leader in sacks and Muhammad ranks No. 2 in catches, receiving yards and touchdown receptions behind Steve Smith Sr.

They will be inducted at halftime of the Oct. 29 game against the Houston Texans, becoming the eighth and ninth members of the Hall of Honor.

Peppers, 43, was a nine-time Pro Bowl selection who recorded 97 of his 159.5 career sacks with the Panthers (2002-09, 2017-18), who drafted him No. 2 overall in 2002. The defensive end also played for the Chicago Bears (2010-13) and Green Bay Packers (2014-16).

Muhammad, 50, was a two-time Pro Bowl selection who caught 696 passes for 9,255 yards and 50 touchdowns in 155 games (141 starts) with the Panthers (1996-2004, 2008-09), who drafted him in the second round in 1996. The wide receiver also played with the Bears from 2005-07.

–Field Level Media

Dec 9, 2019; Philadelphia, PA, USA; New York Giants wide receiver Darius Slayton (86) celebrates his touchdown  catch with wide receiver Sterling Shepard (87) during the second quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Giants WRs Sterling Shepard, Darius Slayton out vs. Cowboys

Giants receivers Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton are among four New York players ruled out for Sunday’s road game against the Dallas Cowboys.

Shepard and Slayton also missed last Sunday’s 27-21 overtime win in New Orleans due to hamstring injuries suffered in a Week 3 loss to Atlanta.

Safety Jabrill Peppers (hamstring) and left guard Ben Bredeson (hand) will also sit out Sunday’s NFC East clash in Arlington, Texas. Left tackle Andrew Thomas (foot) is listed as questionable.

Shepard has a team-high 18 receptions for 223 yards and one touchdown in three games this season. Slayton has caught seven passes for 127 yards and one score in three games.

Peppers started the first four weeks and has 16 tackles and two quarterback hits.

Bredeson was also injured in the loss to the Falcons and will miss his second straight game.

–Field Level Media