Former Alabama defensive lineman Marty Lyons has been named to the 2011 class of the College Football Hall of Fame as was announced on Tuesday by the College Football Hall of Fame Foundation, Inc.
"There are so many people that have been instrumental in my life that helped give me this opportunity," Lyons said Tuesday morning. "When I heard, the first thing I did was thank the good lord for giving me the ability to play the game. I was surrounded with good people at every level I played from high school to college to my days with the New York Jets. I have truly been blessed to be in the situations I have been in."
Lyons, a native of Pinellas Park, Florida, was one of the Crimson Tide's great defensive linemen who played for legendary coach Paul "Bear" Bryant from 1976-78. He was a consensus All-American in 1978 and a two-time All-SEC selection in 1977 and 1978.
"I am very excited for Marty and proud to have the College Football Hall of Fame recognize him for his outstanding career at Alabama," said Alabama Director of Athletics Mal Moore, a former Crimson Tide assistant coach during Lyons' playing days. "He routinely stepped up and made big plays in big games that helped lead us to many victories. Marty's tremendous playing career at the Capstone is very deserving of induction into the College Football Hall of Fame."
Lyons becomes the 23rd Alabama player or coach to be selected into the College Football Hall of Fame, joining UA greats such as Bryant, Cornelius Bennett, John Hannah, Frank Howard, Lee Roy Jordan, Woodrow Lowe, Johnny Musso, Ozzie Newsome and Gene Stallings. Lyons, who was part of "The Goal Line Stand" in the 1979 Sugar Bowl, helped the Crimson Tide turn back Penn State 14-7 to capture the 1978 national championship.
"When I go into the Hall of Fame I thank my teammates, my coaching staff, the fans from Alabama and everyone that helped me get here," Lyons said. "Playing for Coach Bryant, he really set the core values that I tried to instill in my life to this day: family, religion and education. Then he said if we have time we will try and win some football games. He really set that priority of how you should approach life and what you should do with your life.
"I also want to thank the Alabama fans – they have been tremendous. They took me in from the state of Florida and they embraced me and now I'm one of theirs. There are no better fans – at any level – than the Crimson Tide fans. They are very special, and they helped me get here today."
He made 59 tackles with five tackles for loss in 1977 to earn first-team All-SEC honors before turning in a dominating senior campaign. Lyons' 1978 season included consensus All-America and All-SEC honors after recording 119 tackles and 15 tackles for loss.
He served as a defensive captain for the 1978 national championship team and was selected to the Tide's Team of the Century and to the all-decade team of the 1970s.
Lyons had perhaps his best game in the 1978 Iron Bowl where he had 16 tackles and three quarterback sacks to help the Crimson Tide to a 34-16 win over Auburn. His teams went 31-5 and won two SEC titles to go along with the 1978 national championship.
Following his senior season, Lyons played in the 1979 Senior Bowl and the East-West Shrine Bowl. He was selected by the New York Jets with the 14th pick of the first round in the 1979 NFL Draft. Lyons played 11 NFL seasons, amassing 29 sacks as part of the Jets "New York Sack Exchange." He helped lead the Jets to the playoffs in 1982, 1985 and 1986.
The 2011 College Football Hall of Fame Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) Class will be inducted at the NFF Annual Awards Dinner on December 6, 2011, at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City. They will be officially enshrined at the Hall in South Bend, Ind., during ceremonies in the summer of 2012 at the Hall of Fame located in South Bend, Ind.
Including the 2011 FBS class, only 896 players and 192 coaches have been inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame from the nearly five million who have played or coached the game over the past 142 years. In other words, less than one percent (.0002) have been deemed worthy of this distinction.