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.'"

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.

Since: Aug 7, 2011
Posted on: August 7, 2011 11:55 am

Deion's bust...

Is it me or does that bust not look like him at all? Looks more like the love child of Troy Aikman and Jerry Jones

Since: Jan 6, 2010
Posted on: August 7, 2011 11:24 am

2011 Hall of Fame induction poignant, emotional

Without a doubt Sanders is the most over rated person ever nominated for, let alone make the HOF.  The only ability he possised was a goodly amount of speed that enabled him to cover most receivers playing in the day.  He also could tackle some receivers if he had an angle on them with the out of bounds line. When he did manage an interception, it was a dash to the sidelines if there was opposing players in front of him. As pointed out by others, he would not even think about tackling a running back unless he had two or three team mates to lead the charge and to cushion the blow.

Again, the guy was gutless...saw him once caught when Jerome Bettis broke into the secondary and good old Dion was the last of the Mohicans.   Dion feigned  a charge to make the tackle but, as fate would have it, he tripped over the 10 yard...the result an easy Steeler touchdown.

No doubt he would love God-dell and the inane rules put into play to reduce the game to flag football.  The point being, Dion played the game like it was flag football.

Since: Aug 17, 2006
Posted on: August 7, 2011 11:18 am

2011 Hall of Fame induction poignant, emotional

Yes, you're right, they made the bust for Troy Aikman by mistake.

Since: Aug 17, 2006
Posted on: August 7, 2011 11:17 am

2011 Hall of Fame induction poignant, emotional

Deion's in the Hall of Fame?  How come?

Since: Feb 12, 2011
Posted on: August 7, 2011 11:04 am

2011 Hall of Fame induction poignant, emotional

 Anyone else think Deon neon's statue looks a little like Harry Connick Jr. or an Afro-American version of Troy Aikman?, Dont know just my first impression upon seeing it on the cover of this hall of fame inductee's story....

Since: Aug 7, 2011
Posted on: August 7, 2011 10:41 am

Deion all speed no hit

Deion did something no other defensive player in the history of the NFL ever did.  He made it to the hall of fame without 1 hard hit his whole career. 

Since: Jul 11, 2010
Posted on: August 7, 2011 10:32 am

2011 Hall of Fame induction poignant, emotional

Besides your comment about Derrik Thomas not being in, your not that smart!

Since: Jul 27, 2011
Posted on: August 7, 2011 9:13 am

2011 Hall of Fame induction poignant, emotional

Deion shouldnt be a hall of famer.  Chris Carter before Deion?  Give me a focking break!

Since: Aug 1, 2011
Posted on: August 7, 2011 8:43 am

2011 Hall of Fame induction poignant, emotional

Deion Too me isn't a hall of famer., he wasn't even a complete football player! He WOULDN'T tackle anyone plain and simple, not couldn't, he chose not to. His arrogant, and still now, arrogant attitude and self promotion doesnt make you a hall of famer. There's guys' that are sure thing as hall of famers that havent been voted in by the knuckleheads and they elect a part time player? Disgrace. Dermonti Dawson, maybe the best center ever not in? Derrik Thomas not in? And they elect loud mouthed clowns like Sanders and sharpe? NFL Hall of fame voting is worse than mlb

Since: Nov 30, 2008
Posted on: August 7, 2011 8:21 am

2011 Hall of Fame induction poignant, emotional

"The comment of the ignorant moron before me is right about one thing, Deion Sanders doesn't belong in the HOF.   The only reason he is in there is because of his own self promotion for the last 15 years."

You're either stupid or on drugs or both ! Deion Sanders without a doubt was self promoting, cocky and arrogant but I doubt you will find many people who won't say he couldn't play the game ! Deion is one of a very select few CBs who could play man to man all game long and contain his man ! Outside of Jerry Rice and Michael Irvin, not too many WRs burned Deion deep and he put fear in the heart of any QB who dared look his way elt alone throw a pass his way ! He wasn't the best tackler but stopping run plays was not his forte !

Deion is the reason that former Cowboys and Raiders DB Larry Brown was MVP in Super Bowl XXX because Pittsburgh Steeler QB Neil O'Donnell absolutely refused to throw passes in Deion's direction and Larry Brown was the recipient of O'Donnell's respect for Deion ! 




The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or