Now that the 2014 Pro Football Hall of Fame ceremonies are officially behind us, let’s take a look back at some of the speeches. The induction speeches ran over the normal time limit. There where some players that had to wait a long time to finally be enshrined. Claude Humphrey waited 28 years and made sure he took his time as his speech lasted approximately 28 minutes and 54 second. Ray Guy waited over 20 years but had the shortest speech, only 14 minutes 20 seconds. The longest speech was by Andre Reed. His wait was not as long as some of the other Hall of Famers in his class, but his speech sure was. Reed’s speech lasted a long time, checking in at 36 minutes 6 seconds. Here are some highlights from each of the inductees:
Derrick Brooks spoke about servant leadership. The fact that he was receiving the ultimate individual award yet still made it all about his team made it easy to understand how he received so many of the awards that he did for his character. He named his coaches dating all the way back to pee wee football. Brooks acknowledged countless members of his family and his teammates including the kicker during the Tampa Bay Buccaneers successful run.
I stand here so humble to be amongst all of this greatness. I tell you, I promise you, now that I’m a part of this team, it’s going to be a better team because I’m going to work my butt off to make the Pro Football Hall of Fame better now that I am a part of it. When you hear all of these things that are being said about you, it’s hard to be humble. I always will be a very humble man, and that’s because of three people in my life that are no longer here today in person.
My mother taught me this lesson: Never toot your own horn because you’re making one sound. But if everybody else is talking about you, that sound is forever. I was always taught to think about others. As a servant leader, I want to go about it with a great deal of humility. I believe as my mother taught me, it’s never, never good to toot your own horn, because humility as I once learned is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.
Next I’d like to recognize the organization’s second Hall of Famer, my draft classmate of 1995, my teammate, my roommate. I wouldn’t trade you for another brother, my man, Warren Sapp. I wouldn’t be standing here without you. Thank you Warren. Someone taught me that most people will forgive what you say, some will forgive what you do. But no one will ever forget how you made them feel. Who knew we would be here today as Hall of Famers and teammates again, Man, it’s a beautiful journey.
Claude Humphrey was sure to let everyone know how long he waited and that he was going to be “here for a minute.” His speech covered everything from ham hocks to Elvis. Humphrey had everyone laughing with his jokes and was very entertaining.
The best thing that ever happened to the Atlanta Falcons was we got a coach named Jerry Glanville. Jerry’s a hell of a guy. He came in and put in a lot of different defenses. Most of them were for everybody up on the line of scrimmage and to go after the quarterback. As he was putting it in, I was saying to myself, am I supposed to believe this guy? Here’s a guy that’s leaving tickets for Elvis Pressley and Elvis is dead! How much do I trust this guy?!
Humphrey also was sure to make a few food references during his speech. He talked about how his big sister Laura,could “throw down.” He told the crowd how she cooked “those turnip greens and corn bread and ham hocks better than anybody in Tennessee.” He talked about how his wife would make calls and do everything that she could do to get him into the Hall of Fame. Humphrey talked about how as a part of her consolation, they would go out and have a meal or two.
It was very amusing when Humphrey talked about how he and his grandson also known as his wingman, would “get up to go to church services early so that we can go back and get some chicken wings and go back to sleep.” The last food reference was to his in-laws and his mother in-law’s cooking. “I talk about my sister’s cooking, Miss Lucille could really throw down.”
Aeneas Williams turned his speech into a sermon. As Emory Hunt of Football Game Plan said, he positioned himself for a lot of public speaking opportunities. Inductees usually don’t call for crowd participation when they are giving their speech. It was inspiring.
If you don’t remember anything I say. Remember to begin with the end in mind and die empty. How does it all start? As I said, I walked on a week before the season starter my junior year in college, but it was at Harrell Park in New Orleans, Louisiana. It’s in an area where there is a whole lot going around, all around, danger outside the park.
I’ve been hearing a whole lot of parents, and our beloved president who I love and pray for saying that if he had boys, he doesn’t know if he’d let them play football. I want to say, the game of football, I started when I was four years old. There are some things I learned about the game of football that I wouldn’t change for the world. Yes, there are some inherent dangers to playing football, but there are some distasteful elements in every assignment of every job that anybody tries to do. People ask what’s it like to be up here. I am going to tell you what it’s like I learned to write down what’s in your heart. That’s the only way to carry out your dreams.
Mr. Jerry Jones, Michael Irvin, you guys wouldn’t have that beautiful stadium if we hadn’t upset you in 1998 where I had to cover Michael Irvin. If he went to the restroom, I had to go flush it. But Michael, thank you. Because I wouldn’t be here without you. Why do I say that? The Dallas Cowboys got a thing for the stadium because you guys remember the old stadium had the hole in the roof, they used to say it’s God’s team. We upset them and I had two interceptions against Troy Aikman. They told me it took ten years for them to plan and build the current stadium. So I did the math because I talked to the architect that built that stadium. They told me it took about ten years. I did the math, and I said that’s about the time we upset them when Jerry, Mr. Jones, figured out God must not be with us anymore.
Walter Jones was the third Seattle Seahawk to go into the Hall of Fame. His former teams fared very well this year as his college team, Florida State won the National Championship and his former NFL team, Seattle won the Super Bowl. Jones was sure to acknowledge the 12th Man by saying that he loved playing for them and that they were a wonderful group of fans that completed the organization. Jones was sure to not leave out his teammates, coaches and family as well. He even thanked Mike Sando, his presenter to the Hall of Fame committee.
The most touching part of his speech was when he recognized his mother for all that she did for him. He talked about how his mother always made sure his family had everything that they needed.
Occasionally the power would go out or we might not have enough food in the morning, but we were never in the dark and never went to bed hungry. That is a true testament to my mother Earline Jones. Mama, I love you. Thank you for all of your hard work, determination and perseverance. No matter how tough things got, you treated us the right way. I remember many nights hearing you cry and pray. Now as I stand here, I can say that prayer does have the power of change. You always supported me and the decisions I made. You should take such pride in the family you raised. You’re the real Hall of Famer.
Ray Guy gave a speech that was short and to the point. He is the only punter in the Hall of Fame. The relationship that he had with his head coach was truly a strong one. Guy’s selection of John Madden as his presenter was proof of that. The most interesting part of Ray Guy’s speech was when he talked about how his upbringing helped to mold him into the man that he is.
As I look back on what I’ve achieved in my life, I realize it all started growing up in a very warm, loving and caring family life. We were taught to appreciate the things we had and to take care of what we’ve got. Life was simple back then and I cherished all the great times I had growing up in that wonderful atmosphere.
My dad was a disciplined father with a firm hand and a man of few words. He taught by example how to be a man, to be the best at what you did and be proud of what you accomplished, never shame the family name by doing wrong to others. Everybody, according to Dad was very equal. When you started something, you finish it.
My mom was the strength of my family. She never complained about what she didn’t have because she always focused on what the family needed. All she ever wanted was a better life for us. She knew what to say and how to keep our hopes and dreams alive. She was the force behind me that kept me going when things seemed like they might fall apart.
All of those years of playing football, I was setting benchmarks for young athletes to follow. I’d like to think I can continue to help others by teaching what I have learned and to inspire them as they begin to dream and to start their journey. That’s why I have the Pro Kicker Kicking Academy every year. We teach young kids the basic fundamentals and mechanics of the kicking game and instill in them the importance of hard work, determination and patience so that maybe someday they too can stand on this stage.
A God-given talent is one of the greatest gifts an individual can be blessed with. But to use a God-given gift for just one’s self is not the answer. The true benefit of a gift is to share with others. Even though I had a special talent, I was taught ot keep my ego in its place. I’ve always been a humble person, never felt comfortable with attention that football brought. I’d rather be in the background, just one of the people. That’s who I am.
Andre Reed’s speech was one of the most anticipated moments of the night. The majority of the crowd was there to support him. Buffalo Bills fans came from all over to see what many considered to be the final piece of their beloved K-Gun offense that fueled the team to four straight Super Bowl appearances. The best moment was when Reed caught a pass from Jim Kelly for one final time. During their playing years, this was one of the most prolific quarterback and wide receiver duos. Now they will together be enshrined in the Hall of Fame. Reed shared some of the moments during his speech.
My career didn’t take off until something called the K-Gun came out of nowhere. Ask Dan Marino about it. An offensive guru named Ted Marchibroda was the guru of this offense and he knew enough to give the reigns to No. 12. Allowing him to get back to them USFL days where he used to throw for nine million yards.
I was known for my toughness, I was known for my toughness going across the middle, making the catch, breaking tackles. But, the toughest individual I’ve ever met in my life is Jim Kelly, No. 12. How do I find the words, man, to say anything about you? You’re the reason why I’m standing here today. Your belief in me that I could get the job done at any time will resonate with me the rest of my life. 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. Those around you gravitated to your leadership and what you said. You taught us not to quit.
We always joked about what I would say every time I left the huddle whether it was run or a pass play. “Right here, Bro.” I said that every time. I didn’t care if it was a run or a pass. I was open. I wanted you to be proud of me and know that you could count on me at any time. You know our old saying, Bro, 12 plus 83 always equals 6.
You have endured a lot in your life, the loss of a son, and most recently, your battle with cancer. You’re an inspiration to all those you touch. I’m honored to call you my teammate, my friend, and my family member, and now a fellow Hall of Famer. I love you man.
The grand finale was Michael Strahan. He was the headliner of this class and he didn’t fall short delivering an outstanding speech. He delivered a lot of jokes that had the crowd laughing. It was interesting how he mentioned that he stretched across three generations of New York Giants from Lawrence Taylor to Jesse Armstead to Justin Tuck. He also showed great sportsmanship by singling out some of his opponents. Strahan went into detail about how competing against Erik Williams and John Runyan made him better.
You’ve got to thank some of your opponents that make you better. I’m going to be honest. There are two guys that made me better. One was the meanest guys I’ve ever played against in my life. I don’t think the guy even liked his mama. And that was Erik Williams of the Dallas Cowboys. And Erik, I hope you’re watching because you taught me this.
We’re in a game. We’re losing. I’m mad, and I can’t wait for the next game against Erik Williams and the Cowboys. Actually, I could because I was a little scared of him, but I was just upset. So I was saying, Erik, when we get back next game, I’m going to do this. I’m going to do that. He calmly looked me in the face and he said, you know what” Sometimes you just got to learn to take a butt-whooping like a man.” And I learned. I didn’t want to take many more butt-whippings so I better get better. So Erik, I thank you for that.
The other, may surprise a lot of people, is Jon Runyan, Philadelphia Eagles. And Jon, I know you’re here, Congressman Runyan. I know you flew in to support me. There you go, big guy. Why don’t you stand up so they can see you. 6’9″ 350 pounds of twisted steel and non-sex appeal.
Jon, you made me a student of the game. I’m going to talk directly to you. When you went from the Eagles to Tennessee, it made me mad. I felt like they brought you to stop me. And it really, really bothered me. You made me learn to be a student, to study my opponent. To learn my opponent better than they knew themselves. Even though everybody thinks that I had so many battles against you and I was winning and everything, well, I was, but you won quite a bit of battles, man.
You were the toughest guy that I’ve ever had to face on a consistent basis, and you made me a much better football player. After watching these films and you don’t play anymore, your right foot gave away everything you were going to do. But, I love you Jon Runyan.
The 2014 Hall of Fame class delivered some outstanding speeches as they were inducted. There was plenty of laughter, praise for family friends, coaches, teammates and more. This group is a collection of high quality men along with football players. Next year there will be some likely candidates such as Tim Brown, Marvin Harrison, Kurt Warner, Jerome Bettis, Charles Haley and more. There’s also a contributor category now so hopefully, Eddie DeBartolo, Gil Brandt and Art Modell will get more consideration also. We’ll see if they can deliver the same dynamic speeches as this year.
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