Blog Entry

2011 Hall of Fame induction poignant, emotional

Posted on: August 6, 2011 11:17 pm
Edited on: August 7, 2011 2:59 pm
 


Posted by Ryan Wilson



                                                             Ed Sabol | Richard Dent (photos) | Chris Hanburger 
                         Shannon Sharpe (photos) | Marshall Faulk (photos) | Les Richter | Deion Sanders (photos)
                           Pro Football Hall of Fame: Class of 2011
 | Hall of Fame photos | More Hall of Fame news




The 2011 Pro Football Hall of Fame weekend may have been without an actual NFL game (the Bears and Rams were scheduled to play before the lockout dragged into July and led to its cancellation), but the induction ceremony wasn't without poignant moments, raw emotion, and inspiration.

Seven members were a part of the 2011 class: 

Ed Sabol. Ninety-four years old, Sabol gave his acceptance speech from a wheelchair while sounding every bit as lucid and spry as he appeared in possibly one of the best Hall of Fame introduction videos ever. Sabol's son, Steve, who is battling brain tumors, presented Ed for introduction.

"I've dreamt the impossible dream and I'm living it right now," Sabol said Saturday night. "This honor tonight really goes to NFL Films. I just happen to be accepting all the accolades. … I just want to say one thing: I've been very, very happy to have been your boss for all these years. You're a great bunch of people, dedicated, hard-working and loyal, and the reason I'm sitting up here."

Richard Dent. The former Tennessee State University player was an integral part of the 1985 Chicago Bears defense, one of the best defenses in modern NFL history. And Saturday, he becomes the third member of that unit to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. Dent, who had to wait seven years for this day, joins Dan Hampton and Mike Singletary.

"I grew up in a town where a man said 'I have a dream.' … As a kid growing up at that time, listening to [Martin Luther King], all I could do was dream," said Dent Saturday night. "… Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be here."

Chris Hanburger. With his North Carolina drawl and dry wit, Hanburger's speech was as much a stand-up set as it was an acceptance speech. And by the end of the night, Deion Sanders called Hanburger, who Sanders hadn't met before the weekend, a friend, saying "I love you, man."

As for his career, Hanburger played all 14 years with the Washington Redskins, and he was the original cerebral NFL linebacker. He was an 18th-round selection in 1965 who ended up a nine-time Pro Bowler, four times a first-team All Pro, and an eight-time first team All Conference selection.

"It's been a tremendous thrill for me," Hanburger said Saturday. "… I've never had a chance to meet members of the Hall of Fame like this. It's a great honor. ... This is one of the greatest moments of my life and I mean that from my heart."

Shannon Sharpe. Twitter was abuzz, even as Sharpe was still on stage, calling his speech (see it here) one of the best in Hall of Fame history, surpassing the impassioned words Michael Irvin just years before.

Sharpe spoke about mostly about his family and their role in his journey.

“Sterling was supposed to be in the Hall first," Shannon said Friday. "I was supposed to introduce him for his speech, for his introduction and then take his bronze bust into the Hall. But now we’re going in together. I’m taking him in with me. … I’ve always wanted to be like him. …

"I'm here today for a lot of reasons," Shannon contineued. "… Some have absolutely nothing to do with me, and everything to do with the kindness and patience of all the people who guided me through my life."

Marshall Faulk. The San Diego State star revolutionized the running back position during his 12-year NFL career. After five seasons in Indianapolis where he never averaged more than 4.1 yards per carry, Faulk teamed up with Dick Vermeil and Mike Martz in St. Louis and became an integral part of the "Greatest Show on Turf." In his first three years with the Rams, Faulk averaged 5.4 yards per carry, in addition to more than 1,600 receiving yards over that time. He ended his career with 12,279 yards rushing, 6,875 yards receiving and 136 touchdowns.

"This is pretty special -- this right here, these guys … I'm glad to be a part of it," Faulk said. "I want to thank God. And I want to thank God because this is football heaven."

Les Richter passed away in June 2010, but his legacy as a hard-hitting, game-defining player remains. At 6-3, 240 pounds, he was one of the most physical linebackers in the league during his nine-year career that began with the the Los Angeles Rams in 1954.

“It always puzzled me why Les was not in the Hall of Fame," said Hall of Famer Frank Gifford, who played against Richter in high school, college and the NFL. "He was a great, great player. I don’t know any linebacker in that era who even compares to him.”

Deion Sanders. In the second-most emotional speech of the night, Sanders was funny, poignant and passionate.

Deion is widely considered the best cover cornerback in NFL history and his first-ballot enshrinement is a testament to his effect on the position and the game during a 14-year career.

"I appreciate this game so much," Sanders said Saturday. "...This game taught me so much about people, about focus, about sacrifice."

Sanders also addressed the doubters who said he wasn't much of a tackler during his NFL career.

"Some of my critics say, 'You know, Prime didn't tackle.' I want to respond to that publicly, because that affects me, that bothers me. …Since 1989 I've tackled every bill my mama has every given me. Haven't missed one. The next time they say 'Prime didn't tackle.' Let them know 'Yes he did.'"

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Comments

Since: Aug 11, 2006
Posted on: August 7, 2011 6:26 pm
 

2011 Hall of Fame induction poignant, emotional

Sure, Deion Sanders was the best corner in football from '89-'94.  But that's only a 6 year period.  Once he left the 49ers for Dallas, he was no longer at that elite level.  By that point, returning punts became his bread and butter and his turf toe caused him to miss games every season.  Again, I think he should be in the Hall of Fame because at his position, there just aren't many that compare.  In my original post I compared cornerbacks in Canton to 3rd basemen in Cooperstown.  There's a scarcity.  But that doesn't mean Deion isn't the most overrated player in the history of the game.  I still contend that he very much is.  In 4 of his 6 years with Dallas he never had more than 3 picks in any given year.  Throw in his mediocre tackling ability, and the stats just don't justify the hype.  This is a perfect example of what separates Canton, Ohio from Cooperstown, New York.  In MLB, many borderline Hall of Famers never get in.  Just look at Bert Blyleven, who was inducted last month.  He had to wait nearly 15 years and didn't make it until his final year of eligibility.  In football, almost all borderline candidates get in.  Kurt Warner, for instance, is a guy who has no business being in Canton, yet his induction is virtually guaranteed.  Probably on the first ballot.  There's nothing wrong with that.  It's always been that way.  But let's not give Deion undue praise when the meat of his career as a dominant, shut down corner was basically 6 years long.  Once he went to Dallas, he was slightly above average at best.  Just look at his career stats.  Bill Parcells said that "you are what your record says you are."  In the case of an individual player, you are what your stats say you are.



Since: Jul 30, 2009
Posted on: August 7, 2011 5:08 pm
 

2011 Hall of Fame induction poignant, emotional

Don't know how long you've been a fan, but Deion was the original shut-down corner.  And your assumptions on how people see him are dead wrong.  Most everyone I've ever heard speak about him considers him the best corner ever.  Revis is off to a good start, but it's way too early to talk about him in the same breath. 



Since: Aug 11, 2006
Posted on: August 7, 2011 5:00 pm
 

2011 Hall of Fame induction poignant, emotional

Lanceito: We're just going to have to agree to disagree.  Deion was a good NFL cornerback, but he was certainly no better than someone like Darrelle Revis is now.  The reason he's in the Hall of Fame is because of his outspoken personality.  On the football field, he's mainly remembered as a punt returner.  If you took a poll, I guarantee a majority of respondents would remember him more for his ability to bring one back than for his ability to shut down 1 side of the field.  Like I said earlier, there aren't many cornerbacks of his repute in NFL history.  That scarcity, coupled with his celebrity, are why he was a first ballot HOF'er.  But for anyone to argue that he's one of the greatest players to ever play the game is just silly and lacks objectivity.  Don't forget that NFL Hall of Fame voters knew he'd put on a good show for his induction speech.  As is the case with anything pertaining to the NFL, style is just as important as substance.



Since: Jun 23, 2011
Posted on: August 7, 2011 4:06 pm
 

2011 Hall of Fame induction poignant, emotional

primetime primetime primetime the best ever. the only nfl player to have a shoe named after him. primetime


SextonDarcy
Since: Aug 7, 2011
Posted on: August 7, 2011 3:32 pm
This comment has been removed.

Post Deleted by Administrator




Since: Sep 18, 2006
Posted on: August 7, 2011 3:02 pm
 

2011 Hall of Fame induction poignant, emotional

The only people who think Deion is overrated are a bunch of couch sitting wanna be athletes who couldn't hold his jock strap....  All of out there who probably last played football when you were 12, have so many criticisms of him but his teammates and opponents have nothing but praise for him.... Hmmmm who do think is a better judge of his talents??  I think Jerry Rice, Irvin, Aikman, Steve Young and others know a little more than all of you humps.... 

Hands down the best cover corner during his era and possibly in the history but the critics can't seperate their dislike of Primetime from the reality that Deion Sanders is a HOF player.... He was a shutdown corner who could bait greats like Aikman, Young, etc into thinking receivers were open and then pick the ball off.... Plus he was one of the best punt returners the game has ever seen....

Just because you don't like Primetime be objective enough to see that Deion Sanders is great....

As for the tackling part, I am not going sit here and say he blew up people like Ronnie Lott but he did what he had to do to get people down.... The guy who brings up the Bettis tackle is the only person who has a legit story about his tackling... 14 years and thats all you could come up with... This whole Deion doesn't tackle thing was created by the media and continued because people beleive anything the media writes whether they correct or not...

Take your shots at the man, but Deion "Primetime" Sanders is in the HOF on the 1st ballot and nothing you whiners can do will change that...



Since: Dec 5, 2009
Posted on: August 7, 2011 2:58 pm
 

2011 Hall of Fame induction poignant, emotional

Shannon Sharpe had it right. His big brother was the best WR besides Jerry Rice that my eyes have ever seen. I understand his career was cut short, but 7 HOF caliber seasons should be enough to get you in. Most guys(take a look at Lance Alworth) only have seven or eight years of HOF quality production, while hanging on for a few years at the end.

I have always thought that when it comes to the HOF, the numbers mean less than the answer to one simple question. Was this guy one of the best of his generation? Anyone who saw Sterling play knows the answer to that question. The voters need to do the right thing. Put Sterling in the HOF where he belongs.



Since: Aug 11, 2006
Posted on: August 7, 2011 1:56 pm
 

2011 Hall of Fame induction poignant, emotional

Deion Sanders remains the most overrated player in NFL history.  The only reason he's in the Hall of Fame is because of the scarcity of defensive backs in Canton.  Corners and safeties in the football HOF are like 3rd basemen in Cooperstown: there's a glaring shortage of them compared to other positions.  Most of us don't even think of Deion as a shutdown defensive back.  We think of him as a solid punt returner.  But the NFL Hall of Fame has always embraced the popularity contest aspect of its inductees more than Cooperstown has.  Baseball almost prides itself in how many borderline HOF'ers they keep out of the Hall, whereas the NFL lets pretty much every borderline HOF'er in.



Since: Aug 7, 2011
Posted on: August 7, 2011 12:40 pm
 

2011 Hall of Fame induction poignant, emotional

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Since: Jul 29, 2009
Posted on: August 7, 2011 12:09 pm
 

2011 Hall of Fame induction poignant, emotional

Hey biff; excellent observation my man! Personally, I think the bust likes a cross of Chris Rock and Idi Amin. Perhaps a blend of Eddie Murphy and Colin Powell is more accurate.


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