DALLAS - Chris Hanburger, the dependable linebacker who helped the Washington Redskins reach their first Super Bowl as a key member of former coach George Allen's "Over the Hill Gang," was elected Saturday to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, more than three decades after his retirement as a player.
Hanburger was elected as part of a seven-member Hall of Fame class that is to be enshrined in Canton, Ohio, in August.
Also selected were Richard Dent, Marshall Faulk, Les Richter, Ed Sabol, Deion Sanders and Shannon Sharpe.
"It's wonderful," Hanburger said in a conference call. "I am just overwhelmed. It's just a tremendous honor to have been nominated, much less get in. . . . It's just a select group that make it."
The choices were made by the 44 media members who serve as Hall of Fame electors during a 71/2-hour meeting in downtown Dallas on the eve of Super Bowl XLV.
Redskins owner Daniel Snyder and General Manager Bruce Allen were on hand for the evening announcement.
"I think it's great," Snyder said. "It's fantastic. It's great for him and his family and the Redskins. I grew up watching him."
Allen, the son of George Allen, said his late father would have been delighted with Hanburger's selection.
"He'd be so happy for Chris because it respects the game for a dedicated player who didn't play the game for the limelight," Allen said. "He's a humble man. He cared about doing his job right and he cared about other people doing their jobs right. . . . It's exciting."
Hanburger, 69, was a nominee of the seniors committee, along with Richter, a linebacker for the Los Angeles Rams in the 1950s and early '60s who died last year at age 79. Hanburger and Richter automatically went to a yes-or-no round of voting by the selectors, and had to be named on at least 80 percent of the ballots.
Hanburger was an 18th-round draft pick by the Redskins in 1965 and played his entire 14-year NFL career for the team between the '65 and '78 seasons. He was selected to nine Pro Bowls and started for the Redskins at linebacker when they lost to the Miami Dolphins, 14-7, in Super Bowl VII at the conclusion of the 1972 season.
He was a four-time all-pro choice. Hanburger, who now lives in Darlington, S.C., said in recent days he'd long ago abandoned any hopes of reaching the Hall of Fame until being told last year he'd been nominated by the seniors committee, which considers the candidacy of players from at least 25 years ago.
"In all truthfulness, it's never been on my mind," Hanburger said Saturday.
Bruce Allen said that Hanburger "would do something once a game to change the game."
Said Allen: "He's a very disciplined person. The same things you appreciate in today's game with Peyton Manning and Tom Brady - the detail of his preparation was amazing. He called the plays on our defense, and we had 200 audibles. No one signaled the plays into him. He called the plays and he called the audibles. He was our captain."
Hanburger and other newly elected Hall of Famers are scheduled to participate in activities at Cowboys Stadium during Sunday's Super Bowl between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers. The Redskins were sending Snyder's plane to pick up Hanburger in South Carolina. Hanburger recalled Saturday that he once was booed at a Pro Bowl in Dallas.
"He should have been inducted long before now based on him being named to the Pro Bowl nine times," former Redskins running back Larry Brown said in a written statement released by the team. "That's a significant accomplishment. He was very quiet. . . . I thought in most situations he allowed his performance to speak for him."
The Redskins have been well represented in recent Hall of Fame classes. Cornerback Darrell Green and wide receiver Art Monk were enshrined in 2008 and guard Russ Grimm was inducted last year.
"It's fantastic," Snyder said. "It's well deserved. It's a great, historic franchise."
Sanders, who was elected in his first year of Hall of Fame eligibility, spent one season with the Redskins in 2000. He ended his career with two seasons with the Baltimore Ravens in 2004 and 2005 after earlier stints with the Atlanta Falcons, San Francisco 49ers and Dallas Cowboys that earned him a reputation as one of the most highly skilled cornerbacks in the history of the sport.
"It's hard to describe the feeling," Sanders said. "I'm honored. I really am."
Faulk, a running back who played a central role in the "Greatest Show on Turf" offense of the St. Louis Rams, also was selected in his initial year of eligibility.
Dent, a defensive end, had 1371/2 sacks in 15 NFL seasons, most of them with the Chicago Bears. Sharpe was among the most productive pass-receiving tight ends ever, with 815 catches in 14 seasons, 12 with the Denver Broncos and two with the Ravens. Sabol was the founder of NFL Films.
The selectors were to elect a class of four to seven new Hall of Famers. Jerome Bettis, Tim Brown, Cris Carter, Chris Doleman and Charles Haley were eliminated from consideration when the voters reduced the field of modern era finalists from 15 to 10. Dermontti Dawson, Cortez Kennedy, Curtis Martin, Andre Reed and Willie Roaf were eliminated in the cut from 10 to five finalists.