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Former Cardinal Roger Wehrli now a Football Hall of Famer

Roger Wehrli, at a December 3rd game between the Rams and Arizona Cardinals at the Edward Jones Dome (UPI photo/Bill Greenblatt)
Roger Wehrli, at a December 3rd game between the Rams and Arizona Cardinals at the Edward Jones Dome (UPI photo/Bill Greenblatt)


St. Louis, MO – Former cornerback Roger Wehrli, who played for the St. Louis Cardinals for 14 seasons from 1969-1982, found out Saturday he's among the six newest members of the footbal Hall of Fame.

Other inductees were former Cowboys receiver Michael Irvin, Thurman Thomas, Bruce Matthews, Charlie Sanders and Gene Hickerson. Former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue, who retired last summer, did not get past the first round of voting.

Also failing to get enough votes were Art Monk, Derrick Thomas, Andre Reed, Richard Dent, Bob Kuechenberg, Fred Dean, Ray Guy, Russ Grimm, Andre Tippett and Gary Zimmerman.

Inductions will be Aug. 4-5 in Canton, Ohio. The Steelers and Saints will play in the annual Hall of Fame game.

Irvin finished his career with 750 receptions for 11,904 yards and 65 touchdowns. He was selected to five straight Pro Bowls and picked for the NFL's all-decade team of the 1990s.

Thomas was the league's most valuable player in 1991, when he gained more than 2,000 yards from scrimmage. When he retired in 2,000, he ranked sixth all-time in career yards from scrimmage (16,532), with 12,074 yards rushing. Only Emmitt Smith and Barry Sanders ran for more yards in the 1990s.

He will join his fellow Oklahoma State running back Barry Sanders in Canton; they played together for one season at OSU. Matthews, the only player in his first year of eligibility, spent 19 seasons with the Oilers/Titans franchise, playing more games than any positional player in NFL history when he retired in 2001. He did it as a guard, tackle and center. Matthews never missed a game because of injury.

Wehrli was a five-time All-Pro cornerback who played 14 seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals, starting as a rookie in 1969. He once intercepted three passes by Roger Staubach in a win over Dallas and made the league's 1970s all-decade squad.

"Something like this puts a cap on it. It's a dream come true," Wehrli said, speaking by phone from St. Louis. Wehrli made it in his last year of eligibility before going into the seniors' pool, from which Sanders and Hickerson were elected.

Sanders spent a decade with the Lions and made seven Pro Bowls.

Hickerson played 15 seasons for the Browns as the lead blocker for three Hall of Famers Jim Brown, Leroy Kelly, Bobby Mitchell and has been eligible for 29 years.

He follows safety Larry Wilson, offensive tackle Dan Dierdorf and tight end Jackie Smith as the only other Cardinals in the Hall of Fame.

In 1970, he picked off a career-high six passes (a feat he matched in 1975) to earn first All-Pro and Pro Bowl honors; he led or tied for lead in interceptions for Cardinals four times.

From 1974-76, picked off 12 passes as Cardinals put together string of three straight double-digit win seasons, including back-to-back NFC East titles (1974, 1975). He also recovered a franchise record-tying 19 fumbles during career and was voted to the NFL's all-decade team of 1970s.