LOS ANGELES, August 3, 2013 — On a clear, sunny evening in Canton, Ohio, seven more men joined the most exclusive club in football. The Pro Football Hall of Fame now has 280 members.
The 2013 edition took on special meaning since this is the 50th anniversary of Hall’s existence.
Baltimore Ravens left tackle Jonathan Ogden, Green Bay Packers linebacker Dave Robinson, Dallas Cowboys offensive lineman Larry Allen, New York Giants/New England Patriots/New York Jets/Dallas Cowboys head coach and Miami Dolphins President Bill Parcells, Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Oilers defensive tackle Curley Culp, Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive tackle Warren Sapp, and Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Cris Carter are now immortalized forever.
ESPN uber-announcer Chris Berman was the master of ceremonies.
Ogden was presented by Ravens General Manager Ozzie Newsome, who in 1996, selected Ogden as the very first player in Ravens history.
“If you strive for perfection, maybe, just maybe, you may become great.”
The 11 time Pro-Bowler thanked his recently departed grandmother and father. He praised his parents for emphasizing education. He lobbied for the late Ravens owner Art Modell to be inducted into the Hall.
Dave Robinson’s son, David, introduced him. Robinson is the 12th of Lombardi’s Packers to make the Hall. Robinson was among the last players to win three straight championships, including the first two Super Bowls.
Robinson’s siblings, wife and former coaches have mostly passed on. He hopes these people are all looking down on him. He said people no longer want to coach him because “it doesn’t last long.” He did not dream of making the Hall as a kid because it did not exist until his rookie year with the Packers.
“When you play football you have to like the taste of blood. 50% of the time it’s going to be your blood.”
He praised the unique structure of the Packers, saying. “Our fans own the team. Top that.”
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who called 11-time Pro-Bowler, Larry Allen, “the greatest interior lineman who has played our game,” introduced him.
“During my career, I didn’t talk that much. I didn’t have to. I used my helmet.”
Allen stated that fellow Cowboy and five time Super Bowl winner Charles Haley belongs in the Hall.
Allen was able to benchpress 700 pounds, and insisted, “I did it natural.” After he hit the 700 mark, he “was tested twice a week.” His motivation to work out came after being “dominated” in a game by the late Hall of Famer Reggie White.
Bill Parcells was presented by one of his best defensemen, George Martin of the Giants.
He had one request of the Hall of Fame committee regarding his championship bust. “I want to be somewhere near Lawrence Taylor so I can keep an eye on that sucker.”
He praised his assistant coaches who became Super Bowl winners in their own right, and then reminded them that it is never enough.
“I’m looking for a couple more championships out of them, so let’s go.”
He praised his ex-Judy, commending her “for a job well done.”
Special praise came for his 92 year-old high school coach Mickey Corcoran. “I gotta get another ten or 15 years out of you buster, so let’s go.”
“There are a lot of exit doors in pro football.” Those exit doors are excuses for losing that Parcells never tolerated.
Parcells spoke about the greater good, accountability, and the unwritten rules of the locker room. He also noted that the dark side of football contains plenty of pain, and is a “priceless education.”
He had reverence for those who took him under his wing when he first started, beginning with the late Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis.
Many of his best players and coaches were not mentioned by name, but they know who they are.
Chad Culp presented his father, Curley.
The senior Culp offered special thanks for the late Chiefs owner, Lamar Hunt, the late Chiefs coach, Hank Stram, former Oilers and now Titans owner, Bud Adams, and retired Oilers coach, Bum Phillips.
“Football is not just a sport, but a life lesson on what it means to be a team player.”
“Life itself is like playing a very long football game where every play can determine the outcome.”
To future athletes, he implored them to “Keep training, keep connecting with the community.”
Warren Sapp was introduced by his daughter, Mercedes, who said her dad “played football for the passion and love of the sport.”
He began by saying that he would need the power of Christ merely to help him get through his speech, which was expected to be emotional. He stood before his late grandmother as “one humble, proud country boy from Plymouth, Florida.”
Of his hardworking mother, he said, “My whole goal was to retire you.”
He told his brother, “You showed me what another sport was. I still hate baseball.”
He thanked a female cousin for “Teaching me how to talk trash and back it up. Never thought I would learn it from a girl but she was that tough.”
He finally broke down at the end when he praised ex-wife Jamika as “his rock.”
Cris Carter began crying before his official introduction even began. His son Duron introduced the eight time Pro-Bowler.
He said that the first team he wanted to recognize was his family. His older brother Butch Carter is his hero, and Butch also cried at the mention.
In very classy moves, he apologized to Ohio State for letting them down his senior year. He thanked retired Eagles coach Buddy Ryan for cutting him, which forced Carter to grow up.
He described the Hall as “football heaven,” and profusely thanked the people who helped him overcome his substance abuse problems. He extolled love for the late Reggie White for being the first man to tell him he loved him.
He expressed a deep love for his faith, family, and football. “This game gave me an identity, a sense of purpose.”
The 2013 NFL season has gotten off to a beautiful, heartfelt start. Now let’s play some football.
Follow Eric on Twitter @TYGRRRREXPRESS Eric Golub is an independent writer for the Communities. Read more from Eric at his TYGRRRR EXPRESS blog. Follow us: @wtcommunities on Twitter
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