2017 Pro Football Hall of Fame induction: Tomlinson moving, Jerry Jones thankful
Plus Kurt Warner, Terrell Davis, Morten Andersen, Kenny Easley and Jason Taylor embrace their legacies
After six months of waiting, the seven members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame's Class of 2017 have finally been inducted.
The group was officially voted into the Hall back in February, but they weren't officially enshrined until Saturday night when they took the stage at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton, Ohio.
This year's class was one of the most diverse to be inducted in history of the Hall of Fame, with a kicker (Morten Anderson), a safety (Kenny Easley) and two running backs (Terrell Davis, LaDainian Tomlinson) all being inducted.
To give you an idea of how rare that combination is, a kicker hasn't been inducted since 1991, and a safety hasn't been voted into the Hall of Fame since 1998. It's also the first time that two running backs have gone into the hall together since 1994.
The festivities started on Saturday when Easley took the stage for his induction. During his nearly 22-minute speech, the former Seahawks safety didn't talk much about football. Instead, Easley focused on his family, his friends and one important cause: Black Lives Matter.
Kenny Easley: "Black lives do matter. And all lives matter, too." pic.twitter.com/iy6DpN6T86— Sporting News (@sportingnews) August 5, 2017
"Black lives do matter, and all lives matter, too," Easley said. "But the carnage affecting young black men today from random violence to police shootings across this nation has to stop."
Easley probably could've talked all night, but he didn't get the chance too, thanks to a teleprompter issue. During the tail end of his speech, Easley's teleprompter went out, and at that point, he thanked everyone and walked off the stage.
After Easley's speech, Jason Taylor took the stage next, and it's safe to say that Taylor was pretty excited to see his new Hall of Fame bust. Once the bust was unveiled, the former Dolphins defensive end kissed the bald head of the statue.
Taylor definitely had the most diverse cheering section show up for his induction. Falcons coach Dan Quinn and former NBA star Alonzo Mourning were among the group that made the trip to Canton for Taylor's induction.
The most amazing part of Taylor's speech came near the end when he.
"I stole a lot of money from [Redskins owner Dan Snyder]," Taylor said. "But I appreciate it."
Taylor had the worst season of his career in 2008 when he played for the Redskins.
Following Taylor's speech, Morten Andersen took the stage. The NFL's all-time leading scorer started his speech by explaining how improbable it was that he even made it to the NFL.
The former Saints kicker grew up in Denmark playing soccer and didn't even kick a football until high school, when he moved to the United States as part of a student exchange program. Andersen soon became the kicker at his high school, which led to a career at Michigan State, which then led to one of the most improbable careers in NFL history.
Andersen, who spent time in both New Orleans and Atlanta, is so well loved by both fan bases that they were able to put their rivalry aside at Andersen's induction.
Not only is Andersen is the leading scorer in Saints history, but he's also the second-leading scorer in Falcons history.
Andersen joins Jan Stenerud (inducted in 1991) as the only other true placekicker in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
After Andersen was done, former Broncos running back Terrell Davis took the stage and gave one of the most informative speeches of the night.
During his nearly 20-minute speech, Davis revealed that his NFL career nearly ended before it even started. During his rookie year in 1995, the Broncos were playing the 49ers in a preseason game that was being played in Tokyo.
While he was on the trip, Davis decided he didn't want to play football anymore, so he tried to get a flight booked from Japan back to the United States.
"I called the front desk to arrange for a ride home, but because they spoke Japanese, we couldn't communicate," Davis said.
The running back decided to stick out for one preseason game, and after playing against the Niners, Davis decided he would go ahead and tough it out for the rest of the season. After that, the rest was history.
Davis won two Super Bowls, two Offensive Player of the Year awards and one NFL MVP award during his seven-year career. Davis also made one request to the Hall of Fame selection committee.
"A few weeks from now, the Hall of Fame selection committee will be voting on a contributor category. Let's make sure [Broncos owner Pat Bowlen] is enshrined in 2018," Davis said.
The Broncos owner is currently suffering from Alzheimer's.
After Davis was done on stage, the fifth speech of the night went to another running back: LaDainian Tomlinson.
Going into the night, one of the biggest questions was how Tomlinson would dance around the topic of the Chargers leaving San Diego.
In the end, Tomlinson didn't have to do much dancing because the fans did it for him. When he mentioned San Diego for the first time, the former Chargers running back got a huge cheer.
"I spent nine years with the San Diego Chargers," Tomlinson said.
That might not seem like a big shout-out, but the San Diego fans in attendance loved it. One thing the San Diego fans didn't like was any mention of Chargers owner Dean Spanos. One of the few boos during the nearly five-hour ceremony came when Tomlinson mentioned Spanos for the first time.
Tomlinson also spent a good part of his speech letting the world know how vital his mom was to his NFL career.
"People ask me, 'Who do you get your work ethic from? it was my mom," Tomlinson said. "I was motivated to work hard by watching her."
The former Chargers running back also used his speech to preach inclusion.
"Let's not slam the door on those who might be different from us," Tomlinson said. "When we open the door for others to compete, we open the door for one nation, under God with liberty and justice for all. On America's team, let's not choose to be against one another, let's choose to be for one another."
After Tomlinson's speech, it was Jones' turn to take the stage. The Cowboys owner didn't spare any expense for his week in Canton. Not only did throw a party on Friday night that was estimated to , but he also forked over enough money to keep the Cowboys' entire roster in Canton for two extra nights.
Every member of the team was on hand for Jones' induction.
During, Jones promised to give a 60-minute speech, and although he didn't quite hit that number, he did get more than halfway there. The Cowboys owner clocked in at nearly 37 minutes, which ended up being the longest speech of the night.
During his time on stage, Jones thanked nearly everyone, and when we say everyone, we mean everyone.
First and foremost, Jones thanked Jimmy Johnson, which is something that wouldn't have even been fathomable as recently as two years ago. Before August 2016, the two had, when Jones decided not to move forward with Johnson as his head coach, even though Johnson had just led the Cowboys to two straight Super Bowl wins.
In his speech, Jones buried what might have been left of any hatchet.
"We worked so well together for five years and restored the Cowboys credibility," Jones said of Johnson.
Several Cowboys players who played under Johnson, including Michael Irvin, were thrilled to see the Jones make up with their former coach.
Besides Johnson, Jones also thanked Herschel Walker. John Madden, several Dallas media members and Roger Goodell.
Jones also called Redskins owner Dan Snyder "brilliant," which might have been the most surprising statement of the night.
"No quarterback in Cowboys history was asked to carry as much of the load as Tony," Jones said.
By the end of the speech, when it looked like there was no one left to thanks, Jones threw a curveball and complimented the Cowboys' NFC East rivals.
After Jones left the stage, the night ended with Kurt Warner.
During his nearly 33-minute speech, Warner thanked everyone who helped him pull off one of the most improbable careers in NFL history. Warner went from grocery clerk to indoor football to NFL Europe to the Rams to a Super Bowl win in 1999 and two NFL MVP awards (1999, 2001).
One of the more poignant moments of Warner's speech came when he thanked Trent Green. Green, who was injured during the preseason in 1999, was one of the few teammates that Warner mentioned by name.
If you missed Saturday's induction ceremony and want to catch up on everything else that happened on the night, be sure to check out our blog below.
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