CANTON, Ohio — Judging the value of blockers can be a tricky proposition. Not when it comes to Steve Hutchinson.
The outstanding guard for 12 NFL seasons — five with the Seahawks, six with Minnesota and one with Tennessee — was the prime reason running backs on his teams were practically unstoppable with him leading the way. And his performances led Hutchinson into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Hutchinson, who played for the Seahawks from 2001 through the 2005 season, was among five modern-era players in the 2020 Hall of Fame class inducted Saturday; the ceremony was delayed for a year because of the pandemic. The 2021 Hall class will be inducted Sunday.
Running back Edgerrin James, who played for the Seahawks in 2009, joined fellow Florida native Hutchinson in the class of 2020. The three other modern-era players inducted Saturday were wide receiver Isaac Bruce and safeties Steve Atwater and Troy Polamalu.
Hutchinson was twice an All-Pro with the Seahawks and made the NFL 2000s All-Decade Team.
“If you told me after I graduated from the University of Michigan that I’d be excited standing in Ohio in the middle of August … ” he said, joking. “To me, there’s no place better than Canton, Ohio.”
Later in his speech, Hutchinson told his son not to “fear failure but fear to have not given my all.”
When James was selected by the Colts with the fourth overall draft pick in 1999, many observers shook their heads because Indianapolis passed on Heisman Trophy winner Ricky Williams.
Such reactions soon stopped as James established himself as one of the league’s best rushers.
Called “the best teammate I ever played with” by quarterback Peyton Manning, James led the league in rushing his first two seasons. He then overcame a severe knee injury to remain a major force in Indy before finishing his career with three seasons in Arizona and the final one in Seattle.
James paid tribute to his mother during his speech.
“To my mama, we’re here,” he said with a chuckle. “No blueprint, no manual, and most important no man. I’m your man.”
James said, “My career started with gold teeth and ended with this gold jacket.”