Jim Langer, the center on the Miami Dolphins team that went undefeated in 1972, says starting off as an undrafted free agent gave him the drive that ultimately led to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Langer and Larry Csonka, the fullback on that 17-0 Miami team, are among seven former players who will be inducted this afternoon.
"A high draft choice might have the tendency to think a club has got money invested in him, so he feels certain he's going to get a good look," said Langer, who joined the Dolphins after failing in a tryout with the Cleveland Browns in 1970.
"Being a free agent, I had nothing but a plane ticket," he said. "It's human nature. If you come to a team as a top dog, you're not going to scratch your guts out like some guy who has to come up from the bottom."
The 1987 Hall of Fame class is the biggest since 1971 and features three players -- Langer, Pittsburgh Steelers defensive tackle Joe Greene and Oakland Raiders offensive guard Gene Upshaw -- elected in their first year of eligibility, five years after retirement. The class also includes Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Len Dawson, New York Jets receiver Don Maynard and John Henry Johnson, a running back whose best years were with Pittsburgh in the 1960s.