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Ring of Fame LB Tom Jackson to serve as Randy Gradishar's presenter at Pro Football Hall of Fame induction


LAS VEGAS — When Randy Gradishar is enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame this summer, he'll be introduced by one of his former teammates and dear friends.

After being officially elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame's Class of 2024 on Thursday, Gradishar said he had selected fellow Ring of Fame linebacker Tom Jackson as his presenter.

"You may know him — a guy named Tom Jackson," Gradishar told on Thursday. "… Tommy's a great guy. We're great friends. I asked him … a few weeks ago if he would do that presentation for me back in Canton."

Gradishar and Jackson played with each other for the duration of Gradishar's 10-year career. The two, both Ohio natives, grew up about an hour away from one another before eventually uniting on the Broncos and becoming close friends. Jackson recently called Gradishar "best tackler I ever saw" and was a vocal supporter of Gradishar's case for induction into Hall of Fame for years.

Gradishar will be the first member of the "Orange Crush" defense enshrined in Canton, and he's hopeful that Jackson's role this summer won't be the last time he — or other members of the Broncos' historic defense — will be recognized in Canton.

"Knowing that now I'm in, I'm just hoping and praying that the 'Orange Crush' defense — or that team, certainly — will be considered more recognizable and having the opportunity to go in, similar to that 'Steel Curtain' guys [in Pittsburgh]," Gradishar said. "[I'm] just very, very excited and again, it's a real blessing for me to be the first guy acknowledged and [selected] for this. I'm just hoping and praying that this leads into some other guys getting into the Hall of Fame."

Gradishar, who finished his playing career in 1983, waited more than four decades for his eventual election to the Hall of Fame, but he said "it's sweeter" after an extended wait.

"I'm very grateful for having that opportunity to now be saying that I'm in the Pro Football Hall of Fame," Gradishar said.

Take an inside look at how the Pro Football Hall of Fame surprised "Orange Crush" linebacker Randy Gradishar with the news he'd been elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame with help from former teammates Tom Jackson and Billy Thompson and Hall of Famer Steve Atwater.

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