Penn Staters in the NFL Hall of Fame
Plenty of Penn State’s great football players have gone on to have successful careers in the National Football League, but only a few Nittany Lions have ever been enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Six Penn Staters are enshrined, making the school tied for the fourth most well represented university in the Hall.
With multiple Nittany Lions in the Hall of Fame, we decided to take a look at all six Penn Staters who are forever immortalized among the NFL’s greatest players.
Mike Michalske, Hall of Fame Class of 1964
Despite playing fullback during his time in Happy Valley, Michalske slid into a role as a guard for the Green Bay Packers, and was one of the first great offensive linemen in league history. After playing for the NFL’s New York Yankees from 1926-28, Michalske joined the Packers, and won three NFL Championships.
A member of the NFL 1920s All-Decade Team and a five time first-team All-Pro, Michalske was the first guard inducted into the NFL’s Hall of Fame. “Iron Mike” was also a remarkably consistent player, missing nine of the 104 games he played as a Packer, despite playing through a congenital abdominal hernia throughout his career.
Lenny Moore, Hall of Fame Class of 1975
One of the most dynamic football players of all time, Lenny Moore was called “probably the best player I’ve ever coached, all-around” by Joe Paterno. This was apparent during his NFL career, as Moore averaged 4.8 yards per rushing attempt as a pro, which is one of the highest marks ever for a career. In fact, his career numbers are pretty remarkable, as Moore was a dynamic running back, receiver, and kick returner during his NFL tenure, and his 113 career touchdowns are the 13th most all time.
Moore spent his entire NFL career as a Baltimore Colt, and set an NFL record by rushing for a touchdown in 18 straight games, a record that has been tied but never broken. He was named the league’s Rookie of the Year in 1956, Comeback Player of the Year in 1964, won two NFL Championships, was a seven time Pro Bowl selection, and a five time first-team All-Pro.
Jack Ham, Hall of Fame Class of 1988
One of the first members of “Linebacker-U” and Penn State’s first member of both the Pro and College Football Hall of Fames, Ham is arguably the greatest linebacker in NFL history.
While tackle data prior to 2001 is unknown, and only officially registered three sacks in his career (sacks didn’t become an official stat until his final season), Ham still had an incredibly successful pro career for the Pittsburgh Steelers. His 53 career takeaways (32 interceptions, 21 fumble recoveries) are the most for a non-defensive back in league history, he was a four time Super Bowl champion, an eight time Pro Bowler, a six time first-team All-Pro, a two time second-team All-Pro, and a member of the NFL’s 75th Anniversary All-Time Team.
Hey, speaking of all time great Steelers players…
Franco Harris, Hall of Fame Class of 1990
While the current generation of Penn Staters know Franco Harris as one of the loudest members of the pro-Joe Paterno, anti-Board of Trustees/NCAA movement, past generations know him as one of the best running backs to ever live. He was mostly a fullback at Penn State, blocking for All-American Lydell Mitchell and rushing for 1,359 yards with 14 touchdowns.
Of course, Harris is most well known for the “Immaculate Reception,” which helped lead the Steelers to its first title in team history. Along with Ham, Harris won four Super Bowls with the Steelers, and the duo played together on each championship team.
His 12,120 rushing yards are 13th most in league history, and he accrued 100 total touchdowns in his career. Despite being selected to nine Pro Bowls, Harris only made one first-team All-Pro squad, and two second-team All-Pro teams.
Mike Munchak, Hall of Fame Class of 2001
Mike Munchak may not have came back to coach Penn State, but he is still among the best lineman in school history. Munchak then went on to have one of the best careers for a guard in NFL history, anchoring the Titans’ offensive line for 12 years before spending 20 more years with the organization as a coach.
Munchak’s Hall of Fame resume includes nine Pro Bowl selections and 10 All-Pro selections. Maybe most impressively, Munchak became the Titans’ starting left guard during his rookie campaign and held the position for the rest of his time as a player.
Dave Robinson, Hall of Fame Class of 2013
Penn State’s most recent inductee is maybe the greatest two-way player in school history, as he played end on offense and defense for Rip Engle’s Nittany Lions.
As a pro, Dave Robinson played linebacker and had an illustrious career. Like Ham, no tackle stats for Robinson exist, but he had a nose for turnovers, as he picked off 27 passes and recovered 12 fumbles as a Green Bay Packer and a Washington Redskin. He won three NFL titles, and won the first two Super Bowls, both with the Packers. Robinson was a three time Pro Bowl selection, and even won the game’s Most Valuable Player award in 1967.