As football fans across the nation watched the Pro Football Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremony last night, I’m sure you will agree the 2014 class didn’t disappoint. The presenter’s speeches were touching, simple and very much on point. The speeches from the seven NFL Greats were heart wrenching, motivational and even spiritual, not to mention the unique struggles in each journey, that only a few will experience on the road to the Gold Jacket.
Below are some of the quotes and stories that caught my attention:
Gave thanks to his step-father “loving me enough to whip me in front of my fifth-grade glass”. A class act on and off the field, Derrick also had a great message on mental toughness.
“I waited 30 years for this moment,” Humphrey paused then said. “So don’t rush me guys, I’m gonna be here for a minute”.
He delivered a very motivational speech and a message directed to all age groups about the great game of football.
“I wanted to address, because I’ve been hearing a whole lot of parents and even our beloved president, who I love and pray for, say that if he had boys, he doesn’t know if he let them play football,” Williams said. “But I want to say … there are some things I learned (from) the game of football that I wouldn’t change for the world. And, yes, there are some inherent dangers to playing football, but there are some distasteful elements in every assignment or every job that anybody tries to do”.
This athletic big man who anchored down the Blind Side for the Seattle Seahawks for many years was much deserving of this enshrinement. Jones sent out a special shout out to HOF offensive linemen Anthony Munoz the Bengals big man who made him realize “that athletes could be on the O-line”. He also paid respect to former Seattle Seahawk DB Kenny Easley, who left the game too early because of health reasons that he should be in the HOF. The 12 Man was mentioned throughout his speech as well “a wonderful group of fans I truly loved playing for you’ll, you complete the organization, every Seahawk player appreciates you”.
Guy is the best Punter to every play the game, and just maybe one of the best athletes to be enshrined into the Pro football HOF. “I was a good athlete and could have been a Major League Baseball pitcher or an NBA basketball player,” Guy said. “But I knew God had something special for me, and, eventually, one sport would stand out beyond the rest, and it did. Playing in the NFL with the Raiders was my destiny”. The one handed snag in the Super Bowl (shown on the big screens in Fawcett Stadium) on a botched snap sent sailing above his head, put his athleticism on full display and a game changing play that will be remembered forever.
In honor of Ray Guys induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, nineteen former punters made the voyage to Canton in support of one of their own, the first punter honored into the hall.
“I hope I inspire young punters to achieve their dreams to one day play in the NFL, and, maybe even be elected into the Hall of Fame”.
I had the opportunity to meet Andre and work with him last January in Los Angeles, as he impart his knowledge on a group of draftable receivers, while coaching at the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl. He was a teacher, coach and mentor during that week and his love for the game was worn on his sleeve.
“I saw things growing up no child should see,” Reed said. “So sports became my safe haven, my shield, my guard, Invincible, I felt. Indestructible, you know it. Fearful of nothing, any sport! basketball, football, baseball. It didn’t matter. And they were important in my life. Not only for my development as a football player, but as a person”.
As Reed continued through his speech, everyone knew at some point he would mention his close friend Jim Kelly who is battling upper jaw cancer. When he did, there was not a dry eye watching or witnessing that very special moment as Kelly passed the ball once again to Reed, as they played pitch and catch one last time.
Reed went on to say “The toughest individual I’ve ever met in my life is Jim Kelly, # 12,” As Reed spoke to the audience. “You’re the reason why I’m standing here today. Every time I looked into your eyes in the huddle, I knew we could get it done. I knew we had a chance to win. Leadership, beyond reasonable doubt”.
The big talk around Michael most of the week was if his bust would display his trade mark or signature ‘gap tooth’, which it did. During his speech Strahan went onto make fun of himself explaining a childhood nickname.
“BOB” given to him by his brothers because he had “Booty-On-Back”, based on his short and stout frame as a kid. He then looked over to his left and glared into the crowd of Hall of Famers flanked in several rows of chairs, and brought Lawrence Taylor into his speech. He started joking and remembering LT as a rookie “I was scared of you as a rookie…Strahan paused while looking into the crowd of fans “and I’m still scared of you” with a smile. LT gazed back at Strahan with a weird but wonderful smile.
The final show piece to a great weekend is the Hall of Fame Game this evening with the New York Giants vs. Buffalo Bills 8:00pm EST. The game will be played in Fawcett Field, a high school stadium with fanciful atmosphere in front of 22,000 NFL fans. Are you ready for some football? The NFL Sunday night party is here.