CANTON, Ohio (AP) - John Elway fearlessly stared down opponents and the clock in the final minutes of games. Yet the prospect of election to the Pro
Football Hall of Fame made him sweat. Barry Sanders calmly slinked his way around and through tacklers nearly twice his size. But the possibility of
being chosen for the Canton shrine got Sanders all nervous.
They need not have worried as both the two-time Super Bowl champion quarterback of the Denver Broncos and the 10-time 1,000-yard rusher for the
Detroit Lions got in on their first tries. They'll join Carl Eller and Bob Brown, who took considerably longer to be selected, as the Class of 2004 on
Elway admits the lead-up to January's balloting was an anxious time. The man who led more fourth-quarter or overtime victory drives (47) than any
other quarterback was antsy.
"You're hopeful, but you're not really involved in the process," Elway says. "You try not to get too excited until you officially hear you are in, but
I would have been disappointed if I didn't get in. Still, you don’t want to put the cart before the horse."
As a player, Elway drove the cart like Ben-Hur and performed like Secretariat. The 1987 league MVP, he ranks second to Dan Marino in many passing
categories, including yards (51,475), attempts (7,250) and completions (4,123). Elway, a nine-time Pro Bowler who was the first overall pick in the
Class of '83 draft that produced six quarterbacks in the first round, is the only NFL player to pass for 3,000 yards and rush for 200 yards in the
same season seven consecutive times. The climax of his career was winning the 1998 Super Bowl after failing in his first three trips to the title
game. To cap it, he also won the championship the next season, then retired on top.
Sanders went home prematurely at age 31. Within reach of Walter Payton's career rushing record, Sanders stunned the football world when he quit after
10 seasons. The 1989 offensive rookie of the year after winning the '88 Heisman Trophy, Sanders was the first player to rush for at least 1,000 yards
in his first 10 seasons. In 1997, when he shared the league MVP award with Brett Favre, Sanders rushed for 100-plus yards in a record 14 consecutive
games. That year, he became the third player to gain 2,000 yards on the ground, getting 2,053. Sanders' trademark was making tacklers miss with a
variety of unfathomable moves. He often was compared to Gale Sayers for the way he embarrassed opponents, but he never considered himself in Sayers'
class - or on the same level as any Hall of Famers.