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Pro Football Hall of Fame

Defensive end Elvin Bethea, an eight-time Pro Bowl selection who played in 210 games during his outstanding career with the Houston Oilers, was named to the five-man class of the 2003 Pro Football Hall of Fame that included running back Marcus Allen, guard Joe DeLamielleure, wide receiver James Lofton, and coach Hank Stram. A third-round draft pick in 1968 (77th player overall) Bethea played in 210 games over 16 seasons, never missing a game until breaking his arm on Nov. 13, 1977. He was considered a “steal” in a draft class that produced three future Hall of Fame players in Larry Csonka, Art Shell, and Ron Yary. When he retired, he held three team records relating to career service: most seasons (16), most career regular season games played (210), and most consecutive regular season games played (135). Having led the team in sacks in six seasons, Bethea’s unofficial 105-career sack total still ranks first in franchise history, including his team-best 17 sacks in 1973. He recorded four sacks and a fumble recovery in his best single game performance vs. San Diego in 1976. He played in eight playoff games and posted 691 career tackles. Bethea also played in eight Pro Bowls (1970, 1972-1976, 1979, 1980) and earned All-Pro second-team honors in 1973, 1975, 1978, and 1979. More than just a pass rusher, Bethea was also effective against the run. Even though 1974 was the first year such statistics were compiled by the Oilers, his 691-career tackles, are still among the best in franchise history, even excluding the first six years of his career. “When people ask me who the best guy I ever played against was I always tell them Elvin Bethea and Lyle Alzado because both of them were complete ballplayers,” said Art Shell, Hall of Fame member of the Oakland Raiders. “Elvin was one of the quickest guys I’ve ever been around. We always had to double-team him. There were times when I was supposed to block him when he would get by me so quick. And then Gene Upshaw was supposed to pick him up and he also got by him so quick that we would get back to the huddle and Upshaw would say, ‘did you see that?’ and I’d say, ‘yeah, I saw that. He just beat the heck out of me too!’ Elvin was just a great player."

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