By Julian Linden
NEW ORLEANS (Reuters) - Former Super Bowl winning head coach Bill Parcells was among seven men voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday.
Parcells was joined by six former players, including three first-time nominees, to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, the greatest individual honor in the sport.
Offensive linemen Larry Allen and Jonathan Ogden and defensive tackle Warren Sapp all were elected in their first year of being nominated while wide receiver Cris Carter, defensive tackle Curley Culp and linebacker Dave Robinson were voted in after missing out previously.
The seven men will be enshrined into the Hall of Fame in August. They were selected by a group of 44 voters from a pool of 17 nominees.
The panel spent more than eight hours to reach their decision and spent an hour alone debating whether to include Parcells, who led the New York Giants to two Super Bowl titles in a 19-year coaching career where he coached four teams, all to the playoffs.
"This is long overdue," Giants co-owner John Mara said in a statement.
"He's one of the best coaches in NFL history. He turned our franchise around. We went through a long period in the 1960s and 70s when we were a laughing stock.
"When Bill took over in 1983 he survived a very difficult first year, but then turned us into a perennial playoff contender and won two Super Bowls for us."
Allen was a member of the NFL's All-Decade Teams of the 1990s and 2000s and earned first-team All-Pro honors six straight times in his 14 seasons with the Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers.
Ogden became the first Baltimore Ravens player to be elected to the Hall of Fame. He was also the Ravens' first-ever draft pick after the franchise was moved from Cleveland to Baltimore and his election came just one day before the Ravens face the 49ers in Sunday's 47th Super Bowl.
Sapp recorded 96.5 sacks in his career with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Oakland Raiders to join Allen and Ogden as the third player to be voted straight in.
"Warren played the game with incredible ability and passion. He was a leader on one of the best defenses in NFL history and helped to redefine the defensive tackle position," said Buccaneers Co-Chairman Bryan Glazer.
"It is a fitting honor that he will be recognized as one of the greatest to ever play, and we could not be happier for him."
Carter scored 130 touchdowns in a 16-year NFL career with Philadelphia, Minnesota and Miami.
A ferocious defender, Culp spent 14 seasons in the NFL with Kansas City, Houston and Detroit and was named the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year in 1975.
Robinson played for the Green Bay Packers and Washington Redskins and was a vital cog in Vince Lombardi's tough Packers' defenses
(Editing by Gene Cherry)