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Pro Football Hall of Fame coverage

Clayton: Looking at the Class of 2003

Hall's call worth the wait for DeLamielleure

Stram finally acknowledged for AFL dominance

Bethea waited long time for call from HOF

Allen specialized in turning nothing into something

Lofton intense, but a gentleman on the field

Pro Football Hall of Fame bios

Saturday, August 2
Hall of Famers to shine on Sunday
Associated Press

CANTON, Ohio -- They starred on NFL Sundays, so it's fitting that's when they will enter the Hall of Fame.

For the first time in its 40-year history, the Pro Football Hall of Fame will hold its induction ceremony on a Sunday, honoring the 2003 class of Marcus Allen, Hank Stram, Elvin Bethea, Joe DeLamielleure and James Lofton.

He was better than everybody at finding a soft spot. Even when those plays are designed to go a different direction, he always had a natural instinct for it.
Marty Schottenheimer, Marcus Allen's coach with the Chiefs

The Hall switched the ceremony from its usual Saturday morning slot to help accommodate thousands of out-of-town visitors, many of whom wanted to attend both the induction and Monday's Hall of Fame exhibition game.

The Kansas City Chiefs play the Green Bay Packers this year.

"Having the enshrinement on Saturday made it difficult for people to get to both events," Hall spokesman Joe Horrigan said. "This makes it one less day of commitment. It helps our visiting Hall of Famers, many of whom are still working and have commitments elsewhere."

There will be more visiting Hall of Famers -- wearing those familiar yellow jackets -- than ever before.

As part of its 40th anniversary, the Hall of Fame invited all 144 living members to attend this year's "NFL Homecoming" weekend and 115 made their way to Canton.

It's the second time in three years that all the members have been invited back. A 2000 reunion was so successful that commissioner Paul Tagliabue initiated this year's homecoming.

"Ever since that first reunion, it seems whenever I run into a Hall of Famer, he refers to that gathering and asks me, 'When will we do that again?' The Hall of Fame's 40th anniversary is the perfect occasion."

The switch to Sunday is the Hall's second major change to the festivities in two years. In 2002, the ceremony was moved from the front steps of 2121 George Halas Drive across the street to 20,000-seat Fawcett Stadium.

The switch was made in part because crowds in recent years were too large for the grounds surrounding the Hall.

Allen, who rushed for 12,243 yards, is the most prominent member of this year's class.

A star for the Raiders and Chiefs, Allen ran through defenses during 16 prolific seasons. He was NFL Rookie of the Year in 1982 and Super Bowl MVP two years later when he shredded the Washington Redskins for 191 yards, including 74 on a burst that became a career-defining play.

"He was better than everybody at finding a soft spot," said Chargers coach Marty Schottenheimer, who had Allen at Kansas City. "Even when those plays are designed to go a different direction, he always had a natural instinct for it."

Stram's coaching instincts helped guide the Chiefs to three AFL titles and a win over the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl IV.

Wearing one of his signature blazers and usually clutching a rolled-up game plan, Stram was known as an offensive innovator and motivator.

"I don't think people know what a great quarterback coach he was," said Hall of Famer Len Dawson, who will present his former coach for induction. "He knew more about the quarterback position than any coach I ever had."

An eight-time Pro Bowl selection for the Houston Oilers, Bethea made life miserable for opposing quarterbacks during 16 pro seasons. He recorded 105 sacks despite playing mostly in coach Bum Phillips' 3-4 alignment.

"If he'd played in a four-man front all his career, a lot of people would be chasing him for the all-time sack lead," Hall of Fame offensive lineman Art Shell said.

DeLamielleure was one of the key members of Buffalo's "Electric Company" offensive line, providing the holes for Hall of Famer O.J. Simpson to rush for more than 2,000 yards in 1973.

DeLamielleure's induction will help make up for some rough times, including losing his life savings.

"It makes it all the more worth it," the father of eight said. "I think you have to go through some really tough times to understand what it means."

A college track star, Lofton hardly lost a step at the end of his 16-year career with the Packers, Raiders and Bills. He finished with 14,004 yards receiving and averaged 18.3 yards per catch.

Lofton's arrival in Buffalo helped the Bills reach their first of four straight Super Bowls.

"Honestly, he was kind of the missing piece we needed," former Bills coach Marv Levy said.