ATLANTA ( - Maybe it's not the equivalent of Mariano Rivera's first-ever unanimous ballot in the Baseball Hall of Fame but Ed Reed was as close to it gets when talking about slam dunks in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

The Hall of Fame voters talked about the former long-time Baltimore Ravens ballhawk for all of two minutes and 22 seconds before coming to the conclusion that 63 career interceptions, eight All-Pro nods, and a Super Bowl ring were worthy of Canton. Reed is the first pure safety in 33 years to get voted into the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility, a streak that dates back to Ken Houston in 1986.

Fellow first-ballot slam dunk Tony Gonzalez was also only discussed for six minutes and 16 seconds but, as long as we are in Atlanta, Reed was the equivalent of a Dominique Wilkins power slam over a hapless defender, in this case, legacy. As a comparison, Randy Moss was discussed for 34:45 last year before being given his ticket.

Maybe the greatest center fielder of the modern era, Reed, along with Gonzalez and cornerback Champ Bailey, continued a recent trend of first-time eligibles being given pro football's highest personal honor.

Over the past three years, eight of 15 inductees were first-year guys. The other clear trend in recent years is the willingness to induct multiple players at the same position, long almost an unwritten rule which never happened. Former New England corner Ty Law joined Bailey in the 2019 class, making it the third consecutive year players from the same position were given knocks on the door by David Baker.

Last year -- two positions; linebacker [Ray Lewis and Brian Urlacher] and wide receiver [Randy Moss and Terrell Owens] were in the Class of 2018 and in 2017 it was two running backs (LaDainian Tomlinson and Terrell Davis).

Clearly, the thinking is evolving, although there has really been little changeover in the voters. The final player elected on Saturday was former New York Jets center Kevin Mawae, who broke a log jam on the offensive with four worthy choices who each made it to the final cut, Steve Hutchinson, Tony Boselli, and Alan Faneca.

The final members of the class were senior candidate Johnny Robinson, the ex-Kansas City Chiefs safety and contributors Pat Bowlen and Gil Brandt.

Lost in the cutdown from 15 to 10 were receiver Isaac Bruce, safety John Lynch, and defensive lineman Richard Seymour as well as coaches Don Coryell and Tom Flores. Missing on the final cut were Hutchinson, Boselli, Faneca as well as safety Steve Atwater and running back Edgerrin James.

Talking to a few Hall of Fame voters down in Atlanta this week there is a strong felling Hutchinson, James and Seymour will ultimately be HOFers at some point but also expect the first-year trend to continue. Over the next two years Steelers safety Troy Polamalu, former Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne and former 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis are among the first-time-eligible players and in 2021, Peyton Manning, Charles Woodson, and Calvin Johnson are up.

-John McMullen is a national football columnist for Extra Points Media and You can reach him at or on Twitter @JFMcMullen

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