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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Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: January 17, 2012 1:08 pm

2011 Hall of Fame induction poignant, emotional

Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: January 1, 2012 8:40 pm
This comment has been removed.

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Since: Nov 28, 2011
Posted on: November 29, 2011 10:08 pm
This comment has been removed.

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Since: Jul 29, 2009
Posted on: August 8, 2011 11:26 pm

2011 Hall of Fame induction poignant, emotional

Hey antiseven; bro, you're embarrassing yourself with your civil rights views. Dude, check out the HBO special on football integration in the South and check back with us on your ignorant ideas of what life's like. "What's wrong with African-Americans in pro sports?" Really. Come on my man! This is 2011. Not exactly sure about the Deion hat reference is all about, but I must admit his bust looks strangely like a cross between Eddie Murphy and Hank Aaron.

Since: Jul 6, 2009
Posted on: August 8, 2011 6:25 pm

2011 Hall of Fame induction poignant, emotional

"Prime Time" is an example of what's wrong with many African Americans in Pro sports. Sure I loved to watch Deion play, but as soon as he took off his helmut and opened his mouth, I got that sick feeling I get when I'm around "me first, look at me" jive a** behavior and attitudes.
    His speech over the weekend sickened usual it drew attention to himself instead of his mother, to himself instead of his teamates, to "himself and his greatness" instead of how humbled he was to recieve his gifts, and all the people who helped him get there.
    That kind of attitude rubs many Americans the wrong way - both white and black.
  See you later Deion, here's your hat -what's your hurry?!!
   Good riddence.

Since: Sep 18, 2006
Posted on: August 8, 2011 12:02 pm

2011 Hall of Fame induction poignant, emotional

Ignateous, you obviously know the game... We can agree to agree to disagree on how the masses remember him... While the REdskins/Ravens Sanders was far from the same player, I think he had some good years with the Cowboys before foot problems started to hurt him...

You make a lot of good points(and I understand the baseball comparison) but I definitely think he was a dominant corner for more than 6 years... I give him at least 9 as dominant... Redskins time was all based off of hype(I will give you that)....  Ravens was him wanting to hang on for one more year.... Definitely not pretty but he did get 5 INTs and 1 TD off of them over his 2 years...

I just dont' see him as overrated.... Anyone who played at the level he did against the greats like Rice, Irvin, Young, Aikman, etc is overrated to me... His effect on the teams he played on was obvious...   As for who is the most overrated, I would put Brett Favre at the head of that list....

Since: Sep 18, 2006
Posted on: August 8, 2011 11:46 am

2011 Hall of Fame induction poignant, emotional

Goldpanther4, you obviously have no idea about the NFL or football in general to make a statement like that.... did you just start watching football 3 years ago?? Again since you seemed to have missed some clear points made earlier.  You can hate the persona he created call Primetime(Neon Deion was created by the media because it rhymed, Sanders was not part of that), but to deny the man's talents is just ridiculous... There is no way in the world you can say Revis is a superior athlete(there is no comparison there). As for cornerback, their coverage skills are around the same level but Revis is missing the portion of his game that creates INTs....

Since: Jan 6, 2010
Posted on: August 7, 2011 10:18 pm

2011 Hall of Fame induction poignant, emotional

As for the Revis comparison, the difference is obvious and clear to anyone who knows the game.

You got that one right...there is no comparison, Revis is by far the superior athlete and cornerback. Also, Revis has more class in his little finger than the great (self proclaimed) neon dion did in his and his entire families carcassas.

Since: Aug 11, 2006
Posted on: August 7, 2011 10:03 pm

2011 Hall of Fame induction poignant, emotional

The masses remember him as a punt returner because that's what he was for the second half of his career when he played for the Cowboys.  I agree that he was an excellent cornerback for approximately 6 years: all 5 with Atlanta, and the one year with San Francisco.  But he wasn't nearly as dominant as a DB when he played for Dallas.  It doesn't help that his Falcons teams were all awful, except in '91 when they got to the 2nd round of the playoffs.  Again, I acknowledge his legitimacy as a HOF'er.  When compared to other CB's who have played the game, he is deserving.  But I still think, as a whole, he is the most over-hyped and overrated player in NFL history.  If he's not, then who is?  He was a dominant corner for only 6 years.  To put it into perspective, an MLB player who gets into Cooperstown for amassing 3,000 hits would probably only manage to get 1,100-1,200 hits in a 6 year span.  Nobody would make it into Cooperstown if their window of dominance was as short as Deion's was.  I realize comparing two sports is apples to oranges, but his larger than life persona defines him just as much as his playing career.

Since: Sep 18, 2006
Posted on: August 7, 2011 9:07 pm

2011 Hall of Fame induction poignant, emotional

Ignateous: If the poll results are as you predict, the people polled have chose to forget a lot of great football by a great player... I guarentee his fomer teammates and opponents don't remember him as only a punt returner. His outgoing personality didn't get him in the HOF, his talent as a cornerback & punt returner got him in the HOF.  And you thinking that HOF voters factored in his speech is just ridiculous. 
There are only 9 safeties in the HOF too but I don't see any undeserving safeties being inducted just to increase the numbers

As for the Revis comparison, the difference is obvious and clear to anyone who knows the game.  Until Revis learns how to bait QBs to throw the ball his way, he can't be put in the same class as Deion... Deion could have just covered his guy also but he knew that getting a interception would do more than just covering his guy and making sure the QB doesn't throw his way...

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