A Very Special Night In Canton, Ohio
On a beautiful Saturday night in Canton Ohio the 2014 Pro Football Hall Of Fame class was honored. The inductees gave memorable speeches as they accepted their place in football immortality. It was an emotional evening with tears, laughter and everything in between.
Derrick Brooks | Outside Linebacker, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Derrick Brooks started the night with a very humble speech that focused on his gratitude of others. Brooks was introduced by his son. It was special to see that moment between father and son. The signature line of his speech was “When you hear all these things that is being said about you, man I tell you what its hard to be humble. You know your greatness here, your greatness there, you never missed a game. But I tell you what I always and will be a humble man.”
The speech by Brooks was not about him; it was about all of the people that helped him along the way. He even thanked the right foot of Buccaneers kicker, Martin Gramatica. Brooks thanked his mother calling her the number 1 tailgater. His mother teared up as he talked about her sacrificing of college athletics to give birth to him. Derrick Brooks made sure to share the love he has for his mother and his home Pensacola, Florida. He said he was probably the only man to play his entire career, from pee wee football to the NFL in Florida.
Claude Humphrey | DE Philadelphia Eagles/ Atlanta Falcons
Claude Humphrey stole the show with an infectiously fun personality. Humphrey started his charming monologue by saying “I waited 30 years for this moment. So don’t rush me guys.” Nobody would complain about the length of this speech in this much deserved moment. Humphrey’s speech was all about his family. He thanked his mother for the long days of work that supported his family. He said that his father gave him confidence. Humphrey told us that his wife was his biggest supporter. She died recently of ovarian cancer; he wished she was there as she campaigned every year for him to be enshrined.
Humphrey brought us to a sweet laughter when he mentioned that his third daughter was an accident. He said “we knew where babies came from but it was such an enjoyable experience,” which continued the laughter. He said that she was the love of his life. He had his grandson stand up and recognized him as a very special grandson. Humphrey was all about his love for his family.
Aeneas Williams | CB Arizona Cardinals/St.Louis Rams
Aeneas Williams had a very emotional and powerful speech; he even warned us that he may cry. Williams had two messages he wanted us to take away: “Start with the end in mind and die empty.” Williams walked on to his Southern University football team in his junior year. He mentioned that he was an accounting major just like his brother and that his focus was academics. His brother however told him to slow down and enjoy college. He quickly became a star and shot up the draft rankings with relentless hard work.
Williams took a somewhat jovial shot at the New York fans. He said that Giant fans taught him he was number 1 by holding up one finger, the middle one. He even took a shot at the Dallas Cowboys as he claimed they took away the opening in their new stadium becuase hus Cardinals upset him, thus proving God was not with the Cowboys. But Williams passionate message was not vindictive it was inspirational. He left us with the thought
“The goal is not to prove people wrong its to reach your potential.”
Walter Jones | Offensive Tackle Seattle Seahawks
Walter Jones took the podium with a swagger. His son gave him a really touching introduction. Jones like the other inductees gave his family all the love he could fit in to his time on stage. He even gave his daughter a shoutout, asking everybody to follow her on Instagram. Jones also thanked the players and coaches that he played with. He said that Mike Holmgren will soon be in the Hall of Fame as well. Jones complimented the 12th man (Seahawks fans) saying that they complete the Seahawks organization.
Ray Guy | Punter Oakland Raiders
The Ray Guy speech was short, sweet and carried a wonderful point. Guy was the first punter taken in the first round and fittingly is the first punter in the Hall of Fame . Ray Guy thanked Al Davis, the late owner of the Raiders for taking a chance on him. The meat of Guy’s speech was what his parents, especially his father taught him. He said his parents were the greatest influence of his life and his mother was the strength of their wonderful family.
Ray guy said that he was told the biblical meaning of the number 8 was a new beginning. Guy wants his enshrinement to be a new beginning for punters in the Hall of Fame. Ray Guy told us that being a Raider was his destiny and he never questioned it. He left us with one of his father’s greatest lessons to be who you are. He said “I am who I am and thats all you’re going to get.
Andre Reed | WR Buffalo Bills
Andre Reed’s speech was maybe the most emotional speech of the evening. The Buffalo fans erupted with pride. It was such a special speech. He talked about his love for his mother. He talked about her hard 12 hour days working to support his family. He talked about his father and how he helped shape his life. He talked about about how important football was to him; it was his safe haven away from an often rough childhood. Then Reed talked about his connection with all the great Buffalo Bills. He talked about how Bruce Smith helped him in the beginning. He talked about them all from Ralph Wilson Jr, Thurman Thomas and Marv Levy (who introduced him).
Then Andre Reed talked about his quarterback who he praised ”
Toughest individual I have ever met in my life is Jim Kelly #12.” This was such an amazing level of emotion. This was absolutely the most touching moment of the night. Reed’s speech ended with Jim Kelly coming on stage and throwing one last football to him. With all that Jim Kelly has gone through, kicking cancer’s butt, and how close those teammates were, it was special.
Michael Strahan | DE New York Giants
In the last speech of the evening, Michael Strahan told a really inspiring story. He let us in to his past. As a child he was bullied for being pudgy. Michael’s father (who got a huge applause when Michael mentioned he is a retired major in the military) helped him get into shape. Strahan talked about how improbable his path to the Pro Football Hall of Fame was. He made it very clear that the game changed his life. He cited his life as the power of football and said he will always be grateful for what the game gave to him. However he proudly says his most important title is being the father of his kids.