NFL Nation: 2011 Hall of Fame

Deion Sanders HOF enshrinement speech

August, 7, 2011
Deion SandersAP Photo/Ron SchwaneDeion Sanders personalized his Hall of Fame bust by adding his signature do-rag.
Hall of Fame enshrinement speech of Deion Sanders, star cornerback who played 14 NFL seasons from 1989-2005:

Thank you, Lord, I thank you. Jesus, I love you. If it wasn't for God, I wouldn't be here today, so, Lord, I thank you.

The Hall of Fame staff, Canton, Ohio, that was a wonderful parade, although I thought we were headed to Cleveland. It was a good parade. Love you all.

President Stephen Perry, Tammy, Dave, Steve, Jerry, thank you. Thank you. You've made this a wonderful thing. We often times have football coaches, but when it comes to the spiritual things, we don't want any coaching.

But I have a wonderful team of spiritual advisors I just want to appreciate. So if you can bear with me I'm going to run through a lot of thank yous because unfortunately I played for five teams. It's not like I wanted to leave one, but I had to. So I have a lot of thank yous. My spiritual advisors, my spiritual father, Bishop T.D. Jakes, Bishop Watkins, Bishop Jones, Bishop Long, Bishop Owens, Pastor R.J. and April Washington, the Hornbuckles. Dr. Leroy Thompson, Pastor Paula and Randy White and Pastor Tracy David Forbes who led me to the lord.

Thank you, because often times when we have public success, we have private struggles, and thank you for blessing me and speaking into my spirit.

Coach C, Coach David Capel, Coach Capel who suffered a massive heart attack in his excitement to get here was so vital in who I am, what I am, and where I am today. Coach Ron Hoover, my high school coach for kicking me off the team my junior year although I was the starting quarterback, that taught me a valuable lesson, but to this day, I still wasn't insubordinate in that cafeteria. I promise you I wasn't. I don't know what that lady was talking about. For real.

Principal Stickles, Deshazo, athletic director Bobbie Dewey, my English teacher Ms. Fleming, I thank you so much. Recruiter Jim Harveston, Coach Bobby Bowden, the best college football coach ever. Jimmie and Donna Callaway, I love you because you love me like I'm your own.

Mickey and Diane Andrews, my defensive back coach at Florida State. Coach Andrews, where are you? You taught me everything. I love you. The two things that you taught me, I could be two persons at the same time. You could yell at us, scream at us, by the time we get in the cafeteria, how's the family, how's everything going? You blessed me. Also, you made me what I am. You remember that drill that you had that you laid this mat out on the field, and the punter had to come and lay out and dive and try to block the punt? I don't even dive in pools. I don't even do that.

But the guy before me, right before me, dove and the kicker kicked him and split his jaw wide open. And I said, Coach, I'll go back there and return these punts. So I want to thank you for allowing me to be that punt returner.
Special people, Eugene (Parker), I love you, man. You've been there. You've been straight up. You've been forward. I've never heard you use profanity. I've never seen you out of character. You've always been a blessing and told me the right things, not just a yes man. I love you for that. I really, really do.

Jamie Dukes, like my brother, Andre Rison, Keith, Al Williams, Corey Fuller who allowed me to come back and play for the Ravens by telling my beloved Ozzie Newsome that I could still do it.

Jason Phillips who is the offensive coordinator at the University of Houston, but when we went at it against each other in Atlanta on the scout team. He didn't have Sundays to play. He had Wednesdays and Thursdays, and he went at my butt. We had a battle every day, and I love you Jay for that.

Snoop Dogg, thank you for coming, my man. Cube, where you at? Cube, I've been loving you since the early '90s, baby. Thank you. Constance Schwartz, my business manager, Jose Ayana, Jeremy, Roger the Sandman Thomas, Nancy Lieberman, Nate Newton, and D.L. Wallace.

Sponsors, Under Armour, you see a bunch of kids around here with Truth on. It would not have been possible if it had not been for UA, I thank you, UA, and I love you dearly.

My family, Auntie Scooting, thank you for all the sacrifices, the love, the compassion that you've given me. Stand up, baby. That car phone that you got me when I was in college. I love you for that.

Aunt Vet for putting this whole thing together because you know I'm not like this, really. I have a hard time being a recipient of things. I still got presents and birthday cards and gifts way back from two birthdays and Christmases ago. Thank you for handling all of this. Uncle Billy for being my man, my dog for forever more.

My sister, Tracy, for always having my back. I love you, girl, cousin Carson, niece Tia, grandma Hattie Mae Mimms, my prayer warrior who has always prayed me through. I thank you so much.

Atlanta Falcons, Rankin Smith, Coach Campbell, Hanavan, Glanville, June Jones, Jimmy Carr, Fred Bruney my defensive back, coach of special teams Bobby April, my equipment manager that I wore his helmet every game that I played in until I went to Baltimore, the late Whitey Zimmerman and God bless you, thank you, Boris Daniels.

The new regime. I had a wonderful meeting today with one of the most beautiful owners I've ever had, and I wish I would have played for him, Arthur Blank. Thank you, man, I love you. Rich McKay, Reggie Roberts, Kevin Winston, Thomas Dimitroff, thank you so much for everything.

Eddie DeBartolo, Carmen Policy, Dwight Clark, (George) Seifert, Ray Rhodes, my man, Ray Rhodes, I love you so much. Defensive back coach Tom Homer, PR Rodney Knox. Jerry Jones taught me so much about family. Taught me so much about business. Taught me a lot about life. Your beautiful wife, Gene.

Steven, I love you, the Jones whole family. Secretary Marilyn Love who is the best cup of corner I've ever seen. Coach Barry Switzer, Chan Gailey, Dave Campo, Mike Zimmer, defensive coordinator of the Cincinnati Bengals right now. You will be a head coach one day, sir.

Joe Abazano, Rich Dalrymple, Mike and Bucky, equipment men. I told you I had five teams. Washington Redskins, Daniel Snyder, Vinny Cerrato, Norv Turner, Ray Rhodes, once again, Ray Meeks, Jay Byrd, equipment man, and my man, Mel Brad, man, I appreciate you so much.

Baltimore Ravens, Steve Bisciotti, Ozzie Newsome, thank you for giving me the opportunity to end right. You must everything you do in the right way.

Head Coach Billick, Jim Fassel, Mike Nolan, I love me some Rex Ryan, PR, Kevin and Chad Steele, equipment manager, Ed Carroll. I'd like to thank all the trainers as well who were there prominently for me. I thank you so much.

Do you understand this is the Hall of Fame? I grew up on some of you guys.

If I could just get a glimpse of that television and some of some you of you guys, to play against the Marinos, to play against the Montanas, Troy Aikman, man, Emmitt Smith, Mike Irvin. Are you kidding me? Steve Young I got to play with? Some of the best in the business. Irving Fryar from the Washington Redskins, Andre Rison, the guys I adore.

The best secondary to me in San Francisco. Eric Davis, Tim McDonald, Dedrick Dodge as well. This game, this game, this game, this game, this game taught me how to be a man. This game taught me if I could get knocked down, I've got to get my butt back up again. This game taught me there are things in life you can't do prematurely. They call it offsides. In life, it's just life.

Throughout this game I've gained five wonderful, beautiful kids. Deiondra, Deion Junior, Shilo, Sheduer, Shelomi, with all my teams jerseys on, I love you. Thank you, babies.

My beautiful wife, Pilar, who has sacrificed and put her dreams and ambitions on hold to make sure I achieve mine. Thank you, baby, for all you do and for all you've put up with me because I know I'm not easy to deal with.

This game, I appreciate this game so much because I thought about it as a child. I wanted to do it, and they told me we'd get compensated and paid for a game that I always loved and I hear so many people say I would do this for free. I would too as long as you're doing it for free.

But this game, this game means so much to me, but I always had a rule in life that I would never love nothing that couldn't love me back. So I admired this game, I liked this game. It taught me how to get up, it taught me how to live and play with pain, this game. This game taught me so much about people. It taught me so much about timing. It taught me so much about focus, dedication, submitting one's self, and sacrifices.

This game, this game, this game. And I went at this game and attacked this game because I made a promise that I needed this game to fulfill.

I made a promise when I was 7-years old to this young woman at the age of 27. She was working two jobs just to see if ends could see one another because they never met. And she was slaving over pots and pans on that precise day. I can remember, it was a little high chair right by the kitchen. In the kitchen there was a high chair right by the stove that she was cooking.

And I said, mama, because I was tired of seeing her go to work and come home all tired. I said I'm going to be rich one day. Mama, “I'm going to make a lot of money, and you will never have to work another day of your life.” My mama said “that's fine, but until then you get that lawnmower and go out there and cut that grass.”

14 years later, that's why you can't give up on your dream, your promise, because 14 years later, this dream, this promise came. That I was able to allow my mama to go into a job and say I'm not doing it anymore. My son has blessed me.

But there is something inside of me, mama, that I never told you. That I never could admit, and I'm going to share it with all of you, because now we're family. I played for a youth team called the Fort Myers Rebels and they blessed me. They took me all over the country to expose me to things, to expose you to things.

Everybody on their team, their parents owned something. Their parents were doctors or lawyers or the chief of police. It was that type of organization. Me and one of my friends were the only African American kids on that team. It was a very affluent team, and I was ashamed of my mama because my mama worked in the hospital. She cleaned up the hospital, and I was ashamed of my mama who sacrificed, who loved me, who protected me, who gave me everything. I want to make sure I was best dressed in school and I had everything that was laid that came out. I had it first.

I was ashamed of my mama because one of my friends in high school, he saw her in a hospital one night pushing a cart, and he came back and he clowned me, he ridiculed me and he mocked me because of my mama.

So I made a pledge to myself that I don't care what it takes, I don't care what it may take, I'm not going to do anything illegal, but my mama would never have to work another day of her life.

And I recognized the defensive backs at that time didn't get paid a lot. Cornerbacks, running backs, linebackers, defensive backs weren't paid a lot. And in my dormitory room at Florida State, I created this image. This thing that you can imagine. You could love him or you could hate him, but he was Primetime.

I pre-rehearsed the sayings because I knew I had the substance. I knew I had the goods, I knew I had the work ethic, but I needed to secure myself enough that my mama would never have to work another day of her life.
See the problem is with some dreams, the dreams are only about you if your dream ain't bigger than you, there is a problem with your dream. I understood there were going to be stones, because when you make a difference, there are going to be haters.

When you're provoking change, there are going to be naysayers. People don't condone what they've never seen. But when you talked about me, media, guess what, behind I saw my mama. When you wrote about me, when you naysayed me, when you criticized me, I looked right through your TV and I saw my mama.

When you told me what I couldn't do, when you told me what I didn't do, when you told me what I would never be, I saw my mama pushing that cart. When you told me I was too small, I wasn't educated enough, I saw my mama because I made a promise. And whenever you make a promise, there will be a responsibility to that promise. You have to maintain that responsibility, that's why I love this game.When we get away from this game and put these jackets on and we're no longer on the field in that locker room, we lose responsibility because this game has given us responsibility that Troy Aikman had to make that throw when Mike (Irvin) came out of that break. Emmitt (Smith) you had to pick up that block. Jerry Rice, you had to be where you said you were going to be. Responsibility, it was a promise, it was a responsibility. There is an intellect and intelligence one must have.

You think these guys are sitting up here flanked on my right and my left and they didn't have the intelligence? I'm not talking about the IQs that you learn in school. I'm talking about that knowledge of life, intelligence.

I had a promise. I had a responsibility. I had somewhat of intelligence, then I had to manage all these things. There are no classes that teach us how to manage people. There is no class that told us how to manage millions. There is no class that teaches how to manage time. We had to learn this on the fly because ultimately most people that are around us are on a payroll, and often times they tell you what you want to hear. Thank you, Eugene (Parker) for being you.

Now I got a promise, I got a responsibility, I've got an intelligence and an intellect. Now I'm managing things. The last thing that I have is expectation. It separates us from some of you kids, from some of you adults, from some of you people that we expect to be great.

I heard some of the Hall of Famers say I would never really dreamed like this. I'm sorry. I did. I expect to be great. I expect to do what hadn't been done. I expect to provoke change. I expect when I walk into a room and it's 72 degrees, when I get there, it's going to be 70. I expect to make change.

I expected no matter what the team I played on to be great. Thank God I went to five different teams, because when I got to the next team, I had to prove myself all over again. When I got to the next team, I had to prove myself all over again.

I expect certain things. People, start expecting what you desire. Start thinking outside the box. On my shoes right now, on these kids shirts behind them, it says "You've got to believe." I have a problem that if you don't believe in yourself, how will somebody else believe in you?

I gave you a promise. I gave you the responsibility. I gave you intellect, intelligence, I gave you management, I gave you expectation. I don't know if you figured it out by now, but I just gave you Prime. I just gave you the formula in who was really standing before you because I was trick or treating and it wasn't even Halloween. Because all the things that you really thought I was, and some of the things you didn't like, you didn't love, you didn't want to accept, I was doing it for my mama.

I will leave you with this. Many of my naysayers said, you know, Prime didn't tackle, but show me some film where I didn't or where I hurt my team. But I want to respond to that publicly because that affects me, it bothers me. That's insinuating that I'm soft, and I've got kids.

Since 1989, I've tackled every bill my mama has ever given me, haven't missed one. The next time they say Prime didn't tackle, make sure you let them know, yes, he did. Hall of Famers, I am so privileged and so thankful to be amongst you.

You don't understand how I didn't understand it until I got here, until I spoke to some of you, until I saw some of you, until I heard some of you articulate yourselves. When I heard the struggles and the trials.

I met a new friend. His name is Chris Hanburger. I know the rest of y'all, so I'm not giving you that. But, Chris, I love you, man, you're a good dude, man.

NFL Network, thank you for blessing me and for giving me the opportunity to be me.

Truth family, stand up. Ladies and gentlemen, I came here with seven buses full of kids and parents, all ethnicities, all social climates and social statuses. We're one family. I tricked these kids by telling them by using sports to educate them.

I'm trying to open a charter school. What are we doing with this platform that we have? Just to wear this gold jacket? Just to walk around and say I'm a Hall of Famer? Come on, people. Let's provoke change.

Truth family, I love you, because we are training you. We are raising your kids to be CEOs, not employees. We are raising your kids to be leaders and not followers. And Truth family, thank you for your sacrifices, for your love, for your compassion that you have for me. Because guess what, I need it.

I thank you. I love you. Hall of Fame, I tell you what, I don't know what's going on in the other tents, but Snoop, Nelly, Cube, you going to do something. We about to go tear this thing up.

I appreciate you. I got one final thing because I like him, but something's missing.

Thank you, and God bless.

Marshall Faulk HOF enshrinement speech

August, 6, 2011
Marshall FaulkRick Osentoski/US Presswire"This is football heaven," said first-ballot Hall of Fame inductee Marshall Faulk.
Hall of Fame enshrinement speech of Marshall Faulk, star running back for the Indianapolis Colts and St. Louis Rams from 1994-2005:

Boy, this is pretty special. This is big. This right here, these guys, class act. And I'm glad to be a part of it. I want to thank God, and I want to thank God because this is football heaven. When you retire, you may get a chance to go to football heaven, and this is football heaven. Guess what, these guys are on top, because you know what's up above, you know.

Rocky, I want to thank you for your kind introduction. That was some great work. Thank you, too, for being in my corner, Rocky. Thank you for always being honest with me. You've always supported me, recognized when I was right. That part was easy, Rock. It's when I was wrong you would let me know. But you would also explain why, key element there.

You were there to speak with me, with and without judgment. Didn't matter what it was. You've always known me to be the guy that I am. You knew me. There is not another person that I would rather have on this stage with me right now than you. You represented me. You mentored me, but most importantly, thank you for your unwavering friendship that you gave to me.

I also want to acknowledge Rosemary and Joseph Arceneaux Sr., your mom and dad. I know that they are proud of this accomplishment, and they are sitting in the front row seat watching this, Rock. Rock, man, thank you for everything that you contribute to my life. Thank you for being there. Rocky, thank you.

Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. I stand before you a very humble and grateful guy. Before I go any further, I want you to know that I am a football fan just like all of you. I have always, always been a fan and had abiding passion and love and respect for this game of football.

Even when I was a kid selling popcorn in the Superdome because I couldn't afford the ticket to watch the New Orleans Saints. People had bags over their heads then. I wanted to see football. I idolized this game so much. I idolized the professional football player. I actually felt that one day that life could be mine. When that opportunity did come I took it, and literally ran with it.

Now to be standing before you going into the Hall of Fame with this class of athletes, it is a fulfillment of a life's dream. To play this game of football is all I wanted to do. But there wasn't a person that I mimic my game after. There were many guys that I wanted to be like. They didn't compel me to be the best running back that I could be, nor did I push myself to be the best running back that I could be.

Rather, I drove myself to be the best football player that I could be, and that has always been my goal to be the very best football player that I can be.

I pushed myself more than perhaps anyone thought I could because that was the standard that I set for myself. That was my commitment to the game, to myself because I hold such deep respect for this game. In all humility, I could never give it less not than my very best at all times; and because of this, perhaps somewhere down the line, another athlete will be standing here because of how I played the game motivated them to be their very best. So tonight, I dedicate this moment and express my gratitude to those who have inspired me, guided me, and cared for me as I worked diligently to be the very best that I could be.

See, this story is deep. I'm from the Ninth Ward. That is the Desire Projects in New Orleans, Louisiana. Many don't make it out of there. And even though there were drugs and violence, I never wanted to take drugs or die young.

Instead, I channeled every ounce of energy that I had into sports. I played baseball, basketball, football, I ran track. Before whatever reason at George Washington Carver Senior High, I thought basketball was going to be my way out, and ultimately my destiny.

But in making that decision, it didn't stop me. I continued to compete in all sports. Then one day a very special man to me, my high school coach, Wayne Reese, he's here tonight. Where you at, Coach Reese? I know your family's here. You brought a lot of people up from New Orleans. He pulled me aside and asked me a question, a simple question. He asked me, how many 5'9" shooting guards do you see playing in the NBA? You see, I felt like I was a scorer.

Coach Reese had seen me compete in every sport and was aware of my work ethic. Coach was trying to explain to me how other sports would help me, but football could take me places.

Coach, I want to tell you, you taught me responsibility. You taught me that everything in life costs something. It simply depends on what I was willing to spend on it coach, thank you for helping me choose a university. You explained to me the importance of choosing a school that was going to challenge me academically as well as assist and molding me into the best football player that I could be.

You helped me understand how focusing on what was important, it was necessary. It was not necessary the size of the institution, but the quality of men in the program.

People often ask me, why did I choose San Diego State? I tell them San Diego State chose me. The wide receiver coach for the San Diego State Aztecs, now coach for the New Orleans Saints, Curtis Johnson, a New Orleans native. He was in town on a recruiting trip at our game recruiting another player. He saw my tape, took that tape back to Coach Luginbill and Coach Luginbill said, "We need to have this kid."

While going through the recruiting process, they were the first school to offer me an opportunity to play running back. I had been a high school All-American defensive back and just a running back who had not received a lot of attention because I played too many positions on offense.

Coach Luginbill, thank you for giving me the opportunity to develop and hone my skills while playing football at SDSU.

C.J., Curtis Johnson, we call him C.J., thank you for taking the time to watch my tape. Thank you for taking the time to hand that tape to coach. Without those efforts, all of this may not be possible. I may not be standing here before you if I had to go play defensive back somewhere because that was someone else's decision. My decision was to play running back.

Thank you to San Diego State and all my teammates. There's a lot of them out here today.

There is a special thanks that goes out to the guy who hosted me on my recruiting trip to San Diego State, Robert Griffith. Griff, you picked me up from campus and introduced me not just to your friends, but to your family. That was big. From the first time I visited San Diego State, I felt that your teammates were guys just like me who love the game of football and they were down to earth.

To my three roommates, Darnay Scott, Ray Peterson, DeAndre Maxwell, much love goes out to you guys for being the best roommate a little hot head star could ever have. You guys kept me in check. You were there for me. You made sure I stayed humble, and you kept me right.

To the red and black, Aztec Nation. It's plain and simple, Aztec for life. You know.

After leaving San Diego State when I finished my collegiate career, I was drafted by the Colts. I have to give sincere thanks to the guy who drafted Richard Dent. Bill Tobin is the guy who drafted me. Bill, I know you're still here. Thank you. And to Jim Irsay, and the Irsay family. When you take a kid that's 21 and you draft him second overall, we know you're taking a gamble. Thank you for taking that gamble on me. I hope it paid off.

I spent five years with the Colts. The fans there, they were wonderful. The city was a terrific place to start my career. But coming from sunny San Diego to Indianapolis, I had a lot to learn. Those snow days that I thought snow days meant stay home from practice, you guys know when you get that call and you think snow means stay home because you've never been in snow. That's what it was like for me.

You welcomed me. You accepted me. You supported me on and off the field. My teammates and I we enjoyed playing in Indianapolis. Win or lose, you guys were there. I enjoyed Indianapolis because it laid the ground work for the player that I was going to evolve into.

But if there was one person when I was in Indianapolis that I had to say was responsible for the player that I am today, it's Gene Huey. Gene, I know you're here. It's amazing how much your earlier years you can dislike a coach and then learn to love him. Gene, you held me accountable. You introduced me to the film room. You taught me how to break down not just my opponents, but myself. You taught me how to be a professional on and off the field.

Gene, man to man, I thank you for challenging me to be a better man. I'd like to thank my Indianapolis Colts teammates that I played with. I enjoyed you. I learned a lot from you. Sorry if I rubbed you the wrong way.

I have to give a big thanks to Roosevelt Potts. The guy was the starting running back before I got there. Rushed for 1,000 yards. Potts, thanks for sacrificing your body while providing protection for me.

Played with another great guy there, Peyton Manning. I only had the opportunity to play one year with Peyton, but he taught me a lot. It was a sight to watch the maturation process from week 1 to week 16. The leadership, dedication, and the attention to detail that he demonstrated as a rookie first overall pick. Buddy, I'm honored to say that I have played with one of the game's greatest.

Unfortunately, sometimes you move on, and my time was up in Indianapolis after five years. At the end of my time there, it was kind of unclear where I was going to go. But the St. Louis Rams, they had an idea. They acquired me in a trade, and with that trade brought forth the birth of the greatest show on turf.

Ram fans, I considered you guys what Nelly's called his crew the Saint Lunatics, because you were there for us. It was so much fun to play with a group of men who didn't care who won the most accolades. All they wanted to do was win. We were the definition of a team.

To every player that put on a Ram's uniform from '99 to 2005, thank you. Every guy that blocked for me, Big O, Adam Timmerman, touchdown Tommy Nutten, because every time you scored, Tommy was there to help you up. Robert Holdcumbe, James Hodgens, the strongest man I know, Ernie Conwell. Bloody Knuckles himself, Roland Williams. To you guys, because you really don't get noticed for the work that you do. Thank you for all your blood, sweat and tears. It was a pleasure to my skill guys where individual accomplishments meant nothing.

Isaac Bruce, what a pleasure to watch you play. Torry Holt, what a professional. Ricky Proehl, I have to say this: In 1998, Ricky Proehl led the Rams in receptions and touchdowns. In the '99 pro season, Ricky Proehl caught one touchdown, and the whole year you didn't hear about that touchdown, because that touchdown was in an NFC Championship game. Never wavered, never complained, never said anything.

My Aztec little homey, Az Zahir Hakim. It was a pleasure watching you grow up. There was another guy that was a part of the greatest show that you don't hear about. He wore No. 82. Guy to make mention, Tony Horne, because he filled in when somebody went down. He returned kicks for us, and you want to talk about setting a tempo as a kick returner? Normally you set the tempo when you kick off. Tony Horne set the tempo running the ball and taking guys out.

Thank you for your trust and being selfless. No one was above that team. No one. I believe that our greatest strength was that we believed in the team more than our individual accomplishments.

I would give anything right now to be in the huddle one minute, 80 yards down by six with the greatest show on turf. Because that's when we were at our best with our backs against the wall.

Kurt, I didn't leave you out. I didn't.Thank you for being our leader, Kurt. Man, you constantly stood in the pocket, taking every hit to make that offense successful.

Kurt, I look forward to the day that I am sitting here witnessing you and other of my ram teammates at this podium enjoying this experience.

Mike Martz, what a pleasure. Your creative mind and appreciation for doing things that people said can't be done on a football field are what made you unique. People always questioned your love for throwing the football, and your running back. I asked why?

See, before Aaron Rodgers threw the ball 50 times in the Super Bowl against the Steelers defense and his counterpart Ben Roethlisberger threw it 48, and we watched Peyton Manning running play action without a running game, we had Mike Martz, the Mad Scientist is what they called him because it didn't make sense to them. Mike, I love it that you brought out the best in me. I also appreciated that when I had my own ideas, and I had a lot of them, I had a lot of them you took them into consideration. Sometimes you even changed them if you saw fit to help the offense. Your attention to detail and preparation was the best that I have ever seen.

Mike, I truly loved you as a coach, but I more so love you now as a friend. Thank you for all you did for me he and that team.

It's not often you get coached by a guy that you idolized, but Wilbert Montgomery meant so much to me. It was such a pleasure to have him critiquing me it was like we saw the game of football through the same set of eyes, unbelievable.

When I would leave the football field, Wilbert would tell me exactly what I saw, and I felt like I had pretty darn good vision. For him to see it from the sideline made him special. Wilbert, thank you for taking care of me. Thank you for teaching me how to elevate my game beyond where you saw and where I saw I could go. I appreciate everything you did for me, Bert, I love you.

Every great team has a great owner. Georgia Frontiere, she was the best. I have to say to Georgia, thank you for showing us the good life. You treated us like rock stars, but frankly you treated us like we were your stars just shining bright. Ones that you were proud of. It was a pleasure to win a championship for you. Winning that championship for Georgia Frontiere, I got the same feeling that I get when I make my parents proud. That's how I felt when we won that championship in 2000.

John Shaw, Jay Zygmont, Clark Army, that was the front office. Thank you for taking a chance on me. You didn't know what you were getting when I left Indianapolis. You knew I was desperate to win, that was enough. The three of you together made that team special.

Dick Vermeil, I know you're here. Coach, this is going to sound strange because everyone knows you cry a lot. But in doing that, you were our rock. You were the pillar of strength for that team. You were a kind and gentle man, but you challenged me. You challenged me to be a better leader. Your insight on how to make people around me better was the most instinctive and intuitive advice that I received throughout my whole career.

You tried to make people around you better, and that's what I did. Once I learned how to do it and that it meant me doing more stuff than just carrying the football and gaining yards, I became a much better teammate. Thank you for that.

Stan Kroenke, if you've ever been around Stan, you know that his presence and his intelligence is impeccable, and I believe that that is important to the St. Louis Rams and with Stan and his people now in charge, can't wait for the day that we see the Rams back in the promised land.

We talk about promised land, and I believe getting an opportunity to play a professional sport at a high level is a promised land. I wouldn't be here if it was not for my family, especially Cecile Faulk, my mother. Achieving the success that I achieved would have been impossible without having strong family support.

Mom, thank you not only for your love, but your tough love. And you know what I mean by your tough love, mom.
The way you raised us, mom, it wasn't necessarily fair, but you were teaching us that in life sometimes things just are not fair. Thanks for teaching us the skills to take care of ourselves. Every person in my family knows how to cook, knows how to clean, knows how to wash clothes because of you. That's hard work.

Mom, it was also your commitment to get up every day to work two or three jobs, to ensure that we had, and, mom, thank you, because we had.

Cecile Faulk, I know I have your blood, your skin, even your good looks, but the one thing that I'm most proud of is acquiring your work ethic. Thank you for making me the man that I am today.

It was fun growing up in the Faulk household. I was the youngest of six, five older brothers. Kinzie, Ebenezer, Raymond, Rene, Joe, I learned so much from my brothers' experiences. Although they were good athletes, they didn't have athletic careers. They were only dreams to them. They weren't afforded the opportunity to live those dreams. Instead they helped to support, protect, and provide for our family. I learned what and what not to do from the things that they did.

Like we say in New Orleans, bro', you taught me so many life lessons. You guys have always been there for me, contributed greatly to the man that I am today. I thank you.

My whole career in the NFL you hear about my mom. Well, she didn't have me by herself. I rarely mention my late father Roosevelt Marshall who I loved dearly. He was so instrumental in my growth. As a kid, I spent summers working with my father delivery groceries to restaurants and clearing the bar that he partly owned. I watched how hard he worked each and every day from paycheck to paycheck, trying to get ahead in life. But his fun loving demeanor was never affected when he did not by the struggles of trying to get ahead. Working those two jobs made me strive for more out of life, and like my father, to remain unaffected by the circumstances around me.

Lindsay Faulk, thank you for being a great mother and for all the support that you've given me throughout my career. Your ability to deal with my complex demeanor and my crazy life is unparalleled. Thank you for all the times that you nursed me back to health of my many knee surgeries. Thank you for cooking for me. Thank you for waking me up when it was time to take pain medications. Thank you for loving me so hard. I wish that I could love as hard as you do.

I call my kids the Little Faulkers. So to the Little Faulkers, first I want to apologize for missing important activities in your life while chasing my dream of being a professional football player. It didn't always allow me to be there. I can honestly say I was not the best father I probably could have been. I missed many things that were important to you, like school activities, many sporting events, things so simple like just seeing you grow up on a daily basis.

But I want you to understand that those sacrifices I had to make in order to be a successful football player, even though I wasn't physically there every moment, nevertheless, I was always there in heart and spirit.

Just keep in mind that everything that I have done has been an attempt to leave a legacy for you. If you take anything away from this weekend, I would like it to be what you have noticed about the rest of the men on this stage doing what it took to fulfill a calling in life. Chase your dreams. Believe in yourselves. Stand by every decision you make. I am so very proud to be your father. I hope you're proud to call me dad.

I ask you to do one thing. I ask you to be the best that you can be and to live up to no one else's expectations but your own. I love you and I will always be there for you.

To my second family now, the NFL Network. Man, what a great job. What a great job. I have to say thank you to Eric Weinberger, Steve Bornstein for the opportunity to share my insight and knowledge of the game that I love.

I also have to give a very, very big thanks to all the behind the scenes people that make us look good each and every day. My game day morning crew. Warren Sapp, Rick Eisen, Steve Mariucci, Michael Irvin, thank you, guys, man. You guys have made the transition from on the field to behind the desk so much fun. I love working with each and every one of you.

To all my friends that are here. I have so many that are here. To the ones that are watching at home, I want to say thank you for your love, your support, your concern, thank you, thank you, thank you.

In closing I told you I was going to be long I told these guys I was going to be long. It's tough going from the projects to the penthouse.

Just a couple of lessons that I learned throughout my journey. They may apply to you, they may not. My first piece of advice to live life, don't let life live you. Next, my father told me this, if you ever traveled on a road with no speed bumps, you're headed for a dead end. But life's a challenge.

I'm always told how blessed I am to be talented enough to have played football. I say we're all blessed. God blessed everyone on this earth, but what we do with it is the blessing. It's in our hands to put that blessing in motion and living true to life as it is to me. God gave me talent. Football gave me an opportunity. I made the commitment. Thank you all.
CANTON, Ohio -- When was the last time you heard the name Roland Williams?

What about Ernie Conwell or Ricky Proehl?

[+] EnlargeMarshall Faulk
AP Photo/Paul SakumaMarshall Faulk finished his career with more than 19,000 yards from scrimmage and 136 touchdowns.
Even Mike Martz, who is under fire in Chicago, got some love during Marshall Faulk's Hall of Fame speech Saturday night at Fawcette Stadium. Faulk credited many people and former teammates. But the Rams of the late-1990s and early-2000s mostly defined Faulk's career.

Spending most of his career under the tutelage Martz and Dick Vermeil in St. Louis, Faulk (19,154 yards) finished fourth all-time in yards from scrimmage behind Jerry Rice, Emmitt Smith and Walter Payton.

Martz made Faulk into the secret weapon. Martz found ways to get Faulk the ball in the running game, out of the backfield and also lined up as a receiver. Faulk became the new gold standard for all-purpose backs.

"Before Aaron Rodgers threw the ball [39] times in the Super Bowl against a vaunted Steelers defense, and before his counterpart Ben Roethlisberger threw it [40 times]. ... we had Mike Martz," Faulk explained. "The 'Mad Scientist' is what they called him."

Faulk also thanked former Rams stars like Kurt Warner and Isaac Bruce. They are among the cogs that made the "Greatest Show on Turf" great and well ahead of its time.

Today most offenses will throw 40 times in a game at some point during the season. But none of those teams have another Marshall Faulk.

Shannon Sharpe HOF enshrinement speech

August, 6, 2011
Shannon SharpeRick Osentoski/US Presswire"The people of the Hall of Fame tell me I only have eight minutes to do this," Shannon Sharpe began. "No chance."
Hall of Fame enshrinement speech of Shannon Sharpe, Super Bowl winning tight end for the Denver Broncos and Baltimore Ravens from from 1990-2003:

Thank you, everyone. The people from the Hall of Fame tell me I only have eight to ten minutes to do this. No chance. First, I'd like to personally thank the 44 men and women that went to a room on February 5th and deemed my play on the field worthy of this prestigious honor. Thank you.

I'd also like to thank the City of Canton, the Pro Football Hall of Fame itself, and all the volunteers for their hard work to make this such a great event. Your efforts are greatly appreciated. I keep telling myself I'm not going to get emotional today, but I know that's not going to happen.

At this moment, I'm extremely proud and excited where my 14 year NFL journey has taken me and my family. And today is the culmination of that journey. 2121 George Halas Drive, Canton, Ohio.

Today I'm humbled to be joining such an elite fraternity of great players who defined our game. I want to start by congratulating my fellow inductees who I share the stage with today. I'd also like to recognize the elite seven, that is the number of tight ends that have already been enshrined.

Today I become the eighth member. Thank you, guys. I'm honored to become a member of your select group.

We lost one of our members early last month, John Mackey. My prayers and my deepest sympathies go out to Ms. Sylvia Mackey, and the Mackey family. All these years later, nothing makes me prouder than when people call me a self made man. I have a certain persona as a player, and I know this will come as a shock, but I like to talk. It's a trait I picked up from my mom and from my brother.

A reporter once told me he could hear the tape recorder smiling when I got on a roll, but, please, don't let the persona overshadow the person. The persona likes to have fun. The person knew when it was time to get to work.

People often ask me how does a small town kid from Glennville, Georgia, who went to Savannah State College now Savannah State University, who won three Super Bowls and at one time owned all significant receiving records for a tight end? I want all you young people to listen to my answer. It's called the three D's: Determination, Dedication, and Discipline. Three traits that translate in any generation and any job setting. There is a reason they called it chasing your dreams and not walking after them. Don't hope someone gives you an opportunity, create one for yourself.

When I left my grandmother's home in 1986 headed to Savannah State with two brown grocery bags filled with my belongings, nothing was going to keep me from realizing my dreams. When people told me I wasn't going to make it, I listened to the one person who told me I was, me. You may not know this, but I was never supposed to be a Hall of Fame tight end or any kind of tight end, or even a Hall of Fame player. I'm here today for a lot of reasons. Some have everything to do with me. Some have absolutely nothing to do with me and everything to do with the kindness and patience of all the people that guided me through my life.

I want to take a moment to personally thank some of these people who made this possible. Ms. Elaine Keels, my high school remedial reading and Spanish teacher.

And I know what you're saying, "remedial reading and Spanish?" I was saying the exact same thing. She said it would help my reading, I said it would help me repeat my sophomore year. I think she just wanted me to take the class so she could have extra hand's on time to help a young Shannon Sharpe. Thank you, Ms. Keels.

William Hall, my high school football coach, track coach, and driver's ed teacher. Coach Hall has been teaching and coaching for 50 plus years, and he's still coaching today. I know some of you might be in awe of the number of years, but it's the number of miles. He drives 65 miles one way to get to school. Thanks, Coach Hall, for all your wisdom. Thanks Coach Hall for all your wisdom, your guidance, your understanding that you've given me and my family over those 50 plus years. Hopefully all those miles you've driven seem worth it today.

All of these people have something in common. They believed in me and so did my first NFL head coach, Dan Reeves. He remembered to draft me, but somehow forgot to cut me. Thanks, coach, I'm glad you have a lousy memory. I just want to share this little story with you, how close this moment came to not happening.

Our last preseason game my rookie year, we were playing the Arizona Cardinals. One of the coaches came to me and told me, Shannon, your name's on the board to be cut tomorrow. He said, I don't know how much you're going to play, I don't know if you're going to play. But he said if you play, play really hard so you have something on tape, so if we release you, someone else can say okay, this guy can play a little bit.

It started to rain, and I remember driving to the stadium as it started to rain, and I'm saying to myself, if we're not going to throw the ball, how am I going to show what I can do? I played on special teams and I got 20 offensive plays, had 12 knock down blocks. I'm not proud to say I was cutting everything that moves. When they went back into the room on Saturday, my name was off the board. I made it.

I'd like to thank Wade Phillips, the defensive coordinator with the Broncos at the time who looked at a certain scout receiver and tight end and said, Dan, let's put him in the game and see if they can cover him, because we sure can't. Football, of course is the ultimate team game. You don't land here without the support of hundreds of dedicated men whose sacrifices help you become a better player. I wish I could mention all of these guys by name. But unfortunately, time doesn't permit that.

I want to thank my head coaches, my offensive coordinators, my position coaches who diagrammed plays and had the confidence in me to call those plays to help make today possible.

I'd like to have a very special thanks to Mr. Pat Bowlen, owner of the Denver Broncos. Mr. Art Modell, former owner of the Baltimore Ravens whose wife, Pat, is a little under the weather, and I want to take this opportunity to wish her a speedy recovery.

I'd also like to thank the fans of these two great franchises, without you, there are no Super Bowl rings, no receiving records, no bronze bust.

To all my former teammates at Glennville High, Savannah State, Denver, Baltimore, hopeful you, hopefully you thought I was a good teammate and you enjoyed me as much as I enjoyed you.

Then, of course, there is my quarterback and great friend, John Elway. His place in these halls tells you what kind of player he was. I want to take a moment to tell you what kind of man he is. John had never heard of Shannon Sharpe or Savannah State, but not only did he embrace me, he chose me as his go to guy. In my first game starting at tight end they put me in motion the entire game.

As I would motion past John, he would turn around and tell me what I had to do, block the end, block the linebacker, run the out, run a corner. We won the game. I'm standing on the sideline, and I can see John walking towards me. Instead of being angry and upset with me, he walks up to me and he says, I think next week we need to learn the plays. Thanks, John, for teaching me how to be a pro.

Someone once said other things may change, but we start and end with family. As we start here with the end of my journey, I know I wouldn't be here without my family.

To my three kids, Kayla, Kiari and Kaley, thanks for understanding when I promised to take you to the movies or the amusement park or to the mall, but because I'd run myself into the ground or lifted myself into oblivion earlier that day, I didn't do what I had promised to do the night before. Thank you for making all of those sacrifices the other kids never had to make so your dad could live out his dream.

Katy, thanks for your love and support. And being here today to share with me this very special occasion. Thank you. Mom, I know how my grandmother gets, my brother and I talk about her a lot, but this day doesn't happen without you. What can I say? Your baby's in the Hall of Fame. Thanks for all the sacrifices you've made.

I was the first kid in Glennville to have a pair of Air Jordan's, a Mickey Mouse watch and a Walkman. Whatever my brother and sister and I asked for and you could get, you got. I forgive you for all those white suits that you got us for Easter that made us look like John Travolta.

My big brother, Sterling, I'm the only player of 267 men that's walked through this building to my left that can honestly say this: I'm the only pro football player that's in the Hall of Fame, and the second best player in my own family.

If fate had dealt you a different hand, there is no question, no question in my mind we would have been the first brothers to be elected to the Hall of Fame. The 44 men and women that I thanked and congratulated earlier for giving me and bestowing this prestigious honor upon me, all I do is ask all I can do is ask, and the most humblest way I know how, is that the next time you go into that room or you start making a list, look at Sterling Sharpe's accomplishments.

For a seven year period of the guy's that are in the Hall of Fame at the receiver position, and the guys that have the potential to be in this building. That's all I ask. I don't say, hey, just do that. The next time you go in that room, you think about Sterling Sharpe's numbers for seven years. That's all I ask.

Sterling, you are my hero, my father figure, my role model. You taught me everything I know about sports and a lot about life. I never once lived in your shadow. I embraced it.

My sister, Libby, the caretaker of the family, my best friend, my sounding board, my biggest fan. Of the three of us you've had the toughest job so my brother and I could live out our dreams, you took care of the most important person in our family, our grandmother. The last two and a half years haven't been easy on any of us, least of all you.

Every other day you would drive to go to different hospitals so our grandmother could get the best care. The eight to ten hours a day sitting in the nursing home so our granny wouldn't be alone. That just didn't start two and a half years ago. You've been with my grandmother for 41 years. Thanks for being there for my grandmother and me. I love you, big sis.

Last but not least, I think this is where I start to get emotional, my granny. See the guy that did this bust here, he went to school for that. He's trained to bring clay to life with his hands. It's my turn to bring Mary Porter to life with my voice. It's time for me to give Mary Porter a face for all those that don't know who she is. It's my turn now.

What do you say about a person that gives you everything but life? How do you start to say thank you, granny, for a woman that raises nine of her kids and your mom's three, and she sacrificed more for her grand kids than she did her own. My grandmother was a very simple woman. She didn't want a whole lot. My grandmother wanted to go to church and Sunday school every Sunday. She wanted to be in Bible study every Wednesday. The other days she wanted to be on a fishing creek.

It was my brothers and my job to make sure she can do that for the remaining days of her life. The only regret that I have in my 43 years that I never told my grandmother just how much she means to me.

See, my grandmother and grandfather, they raised me, and I hung on everything they said, but they didn't know it. I can tell you every time that my grandmother has ever been upset at me, I can tell you why. My brother never knew that everything he said that I hung on it.

I wanted to be so much like my brother that when I went to college, my brother's first college girlfriend when I went to college, my first college girlfriend looked exactly like his (laughing).

I remember getting ready to go to Savannah State with those two brown grocery bags in 1986, and a teammate of mine that was going to the very same school blew the horn at 2:00 in the afternoon on an August day. My sister was laying on the couch, my grandmother was laying in the room, and she could see me as I was getting ready to leave, but my grandmother never got out of bed.

My grandmother never told me when I was getting ready to leave for Savannah State, "Shannon, don't do drugs. Shannon, don't drink. Shannon, go to class. Shannon do your homework. Shannon, be respectful. Shannon, iron your clothes." She figured she had laid that foundation for 18 years, a ten minute speech wasn't going to work now.

One of my best friends that is already in the Hall of Fame is Michael Irvin. If I talk to him, and I can talk to him about anything, they say, "you don't know a man's pain unless you walk a mile in his shoes." But you can't walk a mile in Shannon Sharpe's shoes because that wouldn't do it justice. You need to walk 20 years of my life. You need to walk 20 years in this body and feel this raging inferno that I felt to get out of Glennville, to leave that thousand square foot cinder block home with the cement floors, to leave what my grandmother said, baby, is it going to be the gas this month that I'm going to pay or is it going to be the lights? Do you want to eat or do you want light to see so can you do your homework? Son, do you want the phone just in case there's an emergency we can call somebody? What is it going to be this month? That drove me. That drove me.

Nobody ever knew how much this five alarm fire raged inside of me. My sister didn't know, my brother didn't know, but it raged. I had to leave Glennville. I had to make a better way for my brothers, for my sister, for my mom. I didn't want my kids to live one night, not one hour, not one hour in the life that I had let alone a day.

And I neglected my kids. I missed recitals, I missed football practice, I missed graduations because I was so obsessed with being the best player I could possibly be that I neglected a lot of people. I ruined a lot of relationships. But I'm not here to apologize for that because it got me here and it got them to a life they never would have enjoyed had it not been for that.

I want to leave you with this: My position coach who is sitting right there in the stands, Les Steckel once asked me, son, why do you work so hard? Every time at lunch you're not eating, you're in the gym, you're working out.

You study harder, you practice harder, you have more fun. I said, Les, I never want to eat cold oatmeal again. I said, you don't know what it's like, Les, to grow up like I grew up. To eat the animals that I ate. I remember eating raccoon. I remember eating possum. I remember eating squirrel and turtle. I remember those days. I said, I ate that now as a kid, but I'm not going to have to eat that when I become an adult.

The one story I want to leave you with to tell you why I became this person: When I was 12 years old I told my mom, "Mom, I'm going to have some money one day, and I'm going to buy you a Mercedes, and I did."

When I came and I asked my grandmother, what do you want? She always called me her baby. She never called me by my name. I said, "You want me to buy you a car and teach you how to drive? She said, no, son, I don't want that. I said, "Granny, do you want jewelry?" She said, no, son, I don't want that. She said, son, I want a decent house.

And I'm thinking well, my grandmother wants 7,000, 8,000 square feet. But then I knew my grandmother, knowing her like I know her, after pausing for five or six minutes. I said, "Granny, what is a decent home?" And I remember it like yesterday, and it was 30 plus years ago.

She said, son, I want a decent home and her words verbatim is "Son, I want to go to bed one night," and she said, "I want God to let it rain as hard as he possibly can, and I want him to let it rain all night long." She said, "I want to wake up and not be wet." That's a decent home for my grandmother. That's all she wanted. For 66 years, my grandmother never went to bed and had it rain and not be wet the next morning. I remember those days of putting those plastic coats on the bed and I'm going to date myself and call them croaker sacks but now we call them burlap bags. I remember that.

I remember putting the pots and pans on the floor to catch the rain water. The very pots and pans that we're going to cook in the next day. I remember that. It broke my heart that my grandmother, all she wanted was she's got two grand boys that are making millions of dollars, and she wanted a house that wouldn't leak. That's all she wanted. That's all my grandmother wanted.

For two boys that are making millions and all you want is a decent house. You want to go to bed and not get wet when you wake up. That's what drove Shannon. That's what got me here.

When I did the special, we were going down, my brother and I were going down to shoot a special that Thursday. My sister called me about 9:00 that Wednesday night. She said, "Shannon, she's gone." I said, "for real, Libby?" She hung the phone up. My girlfriend and I were laying in the bed. She said, are you okay? 'I said I'm fine." I just want to lay here, and I just want to think.

As I'm driving down I've got my head phones on because I don't want to talk. And I'm trying to gather in my mind what I'm going to say when I see my grandma laying in that casket, and before I did the interview I remember going by King's Funeral Home that had my grandmother's body, and I rubbed her head. My sister had her hair braided, and I rubbed her head, and I already knew what she would want.

I said, now Granny, I promised these people I would do this, but if you say no, I think they'll understand. See, my grandmother, if you give a man your word, you do what you say you're going to do.

See, when my grandfather died, I missed one day, the day of the funeral. My grandmother didn't believe in that. If you promise somebody you're going to do something, you do it. As my grandmother was laying in that casket on Saturday morning, I walked over to her, and I asked her two things. I asked her two things: I said, "Granny, am I the man you thought I would be when you got on the train and you came to Chicago and got me at three months? Am I the man you thought I would be?" And I stood there for about 20 seconds and I could see her smiling.

Then I asked her, "Are you proud?" I said, Granny, are you proud of your baby? Because everything I've done in my life, I've tried to please you.

I know my grandmother's proud. I know my family's proud. This day means so much to me because I get to share it with that guy right there. You'll never know. When he put that jacket on me last night, there's two people in this world who knew what we were thinking. There were two people in this world who knew what we felt at that very moment, and we felt it at the very same time. Guys, I'm so honored to be a part of this. I'm so honored. You don't know what this means to me.

You play in the National Football League and you say you're a member of the fraternity. But this is the fraternity of all fraternities. Deacon Jones once said everybody in this room right here could catch the other person that's in this room right here. Nobody's better, whether you're 1 or you're 267.

Guys, thank you for allowing me to share 14 minutes and 23 seconds of your time. Thank you.

Sharpe delivers moving HOF speech

August, 6, 2011

CANTON, Ohio -- Shannon Sharpe's trash-talking as a player made him famous. But Sharpe's humble and eloquent speech on Saturday completed his road to Canton.

The former Denver Broncos and Baltimore Ravens tight end entered football immortality as part of a talented Class of 2011. Sharpe joined cornerback Deion Sanders, running back Marshall Faulk, defensive end Richard Dent, linebackers Les Richter and Chris Hanburger and Ed Sabol of NFL Films as the newest Hall of Fame inductees.

Sharpe was in his element -- he had a microphone and a national audience hanging on his every word. You could tell by his face leading up to the induction that a great speech was forthcoming.

"The people of the Hall of Fame tell me I only have eight minutes to do this," Sharpe began. "No chance."

[+] EnlargeShannon Sharpe
Brian Bahr/Getty ImagesShannon Sharpe ended his career with 815 receptions, 10,060 yards and 62 touchdowns.
Sharpe’s speech ran approximately 25 minutes and, as expected, lived up to his last name. It was captivating. It was emotional. It explained his pain, motivation and eventual triumph.

Sharpe thanked everyone from his grandmother to John Elway to his brother, former NFL receiver Sterling Sharpe. Shannon Sharpe described his older brother as the greatest football player in the family and made a pitch to get Sterling Sharpe into the Hall of Fame.

In Shannon Sharpe's words, a hard life created a motivated NFL player. Growing up without much in Glennville, Ga., helped turn a seventh-round pick into a Hall of Famer.

"You can't walk a mile in Shannon Sharpe's shoes, because that wouldn't do it justice," Sharpe said. "You need to walk 20 years in my life. You need to walk 20 years in this body to feel this raging inferno that I felt to get out of Glennville, and to leave that 1,000-square foot cinderblock home with cement floors."

Sharpe entered the NFL as a long shot from Savannah State and finished with 815 receptions for 10,060 yards and 62 touchdowns. Those stats were NFL records for a tight end at the time of his retirement in 2003. He made eight Pro Bowls. Sharpe led his team in receiving seven times, which is very difficult for a tight end.

Sharpe was consistent. He had 11 years of 50 receptions or more. Sharpe was clutch. He helped lead the Broncos and Ravens to three Super Bowl titles. And make no mistake: Neither the Broncos nor Ravens would have championships without Sharpe.

Sharpe was Baltimore's only reliable receiver in a mediocre passing offense quarterbacked by Trent Dilfer, now an ESPN football analyst. Sharpe led the Ravens with 67 receptions for 810 yards.

He was the first player to bring swagger to the offense in Baltimore. He had many one-liners. My personal favorite was his labeling Plaxico Burress "Plexiglass" for getting into a trash-talking battle with the Ravens.

Usually, someone on the Ravens' defense would respond to trash-talking opponents. But Sharpe had no problem assisting linebacker Ray Lewis in that department. Even when the offense wasn't producing, Sharpe's presence and production commanded that kind of respect.

With Denver, Sharpe played third fiddle behind Elway and running back Terrell Davis in his prime. But Sharpe's clutch receiving and leadership helped keep everything together. In Denver's two Super Bowl years, Sharpe averaged 68 receptions and 937.5 yards per season.

Sharpe was the consummate "talk the talk and walk the walk" NFL player. Many have tried that route, but few succeeded.

"A reporter once told me he can hear the tape recorder smiling when I got on a roll," Sharpe said. "But please, don't let the persona overshadow the person. The persona liked to have fun. The person knew when it was time to get to work."

Many fans new to football will view Sharpe primarily an entertaining and outspoken television analyst. But with Sharpe now bronzed in Canton, it will be easier for future generations to remember Sharpe's game and drive were even better than his trash-talking.

Chris Hanburger HOF enshrinement speech

August, 6, 2011
Chris HanburgerAP Photo/Ron Schwane"This is something that I never gave a thought to," Chris Hanburger said,"and I'm most appreciative of it."
Hall of Fame enshrinement speech of Chris Hanburger, star linebacker for the Washington Redskins from 1965-78:

I tell you one thing, I brought that boy, (son, Chris Hanburger) up right. That's for sure. Before I get started, it's hard for me to see at my age, up close and far away, but there are some guys that I played with out there, I think. I can see one of them because he's got a full head of gray hair that attracted my attention. That's Billy Kilmer. There he goes.

Ron McDole, the dancing bear defensive end, and I think Brig Owens might be out there. There he is. And I'm not sure about Pat Fischer, I think Pat was coming. And Larry Brown, I don't know if he made it. There he is. Thank you, guys.

This is something that I never gave a thought to, and I'm most appreciative of it. When it all got going, we were told that we had six to eight minutes, and I don't think anybody's going to tell Richard Dent not to exceed that.
But I got to thinking about this when I realized where my finances were bringing my children, their families, my grandkids and everybody else up here. I thought, well, you know what? I think I'll try to sell some of my time.
I knew Richard Dent was out, because if I upset him, I was dead. Marshall Faulk was out because he walks around with his phone texting and Twittering and whatever else all day long, and I realized that there were two other guys that do a lot of talking on TV and everything else. I figured Shannon Sharpe would be the easiest guy to start with. I closed him real quick, put a wad of cash in my pocket.

I went to the last guy, Primetime, he told me I had to go talk to his agent (laughing). And I told him I don't talk to agents. The next thing I know he's doing all this stuff and trying to get a discount. I'm only kidding, but I congratulate all of the inductees for this year. These are great guys. These guys down here are wonderful.
It's been a tremendous thrill for me. I've known a lot of these guys. I've played with some of them, but I've known the names. I've never had a chance to meet guys in the Hall of Fame before like this. For me it's a tremendous honor, just a great honor.

There is another guy out there, I believe he's here, Joe Mark. I don't know where you are, Joe, but if you're out there please stand. There he is. This is a guy at the University of North Carolina where I went to college, back when I was in college you could only substitute a couple of players when the ball turned over, other than that you just stayed on the field and played offense and defense, and I used to go in as a sophomore and for the All-American receiver we had.

After that year Coach Mark grabbed me and said, Son, you better learn how to snap the ball. You're going to play center, and not only do you have to get it to the quarterback, but you have to get it back to the punter and for extra points.

All summer I'd worked on that and never did get it down very well. But that's how I got to play linebacker, because the center became linebacker on defense. I think they were just running out of folks to grab when I got drafted. It was like throwing darts at a board and somebody hit my name and the Redskins got stuck with me.

But I want to thank all you folks for being here. I think it's fantastic. It's overwhelming for me. I had a blast in the parade today. The folks of Canton, you all are tremendous. I think the support is just great. I thank all the volunteers. For those of you who don't know, there's over 4,000 people that volunteer their time to help put this whole week together for all of us, and I thank them. I thank the folks from the Hall of Fame itself. They have been most helpful for all of us.

I know it's been very confusing for me. To be honest with you, I try to stay out of it and I dump it on everybody else. I don't understand the process to get in here at all. I don't know who is involved in the voting, the nominations, et cetera. But I can tell you one thing, I thank those folks very much. This is one of the greatest moments in my life, and I mean that from my heart.

I will tell you that I respect this so much because when I think that there were so many players that played before I did. There are men that I played with and against, and there's guys playing now. Unfortunately nominations aren't going to come their way, an election is not going to come their way.

But it's a system. It is what it is. That's why I'm just so fortunate. It's not so much what I did by any means. I look at it as what the people around me did on the field that let me kind of try to be somewhat of a loose cannon out there or just run around like a chicken with his head cut off not knowing exactly what I was doing.

I don't think folks here that are Hall of Famers are sitting here, I don't consider myself a true Hall of Famer. I say that because to me, I'm an Army brat. I spent two years in the Army right out of high school before I went to college to me the real Hall of Fame people are all the men and women of our armed forces, all the men and women in law enforcement, and all the firefighters, men and women. These people, to me, go over and beyond making a tackle or a blitz or doing anything, completing a pass. They're wonderful people.

I just ask you when you get a chance, just thank them. Two words, thank you. That means the world to them. I appreciate so much my family. You've met my son. I have two daughters, and my wife Evelyn out there. They keep wanting me to smile more. They keep wanting me to change. All I can tell you is it isn't going to happen. I am what I am, and nothing's changing.

But I tell you what, I am just overwhelmed by this. It's just a great time in my life. People ask me, what is the greatest thing before this happened? And I would say getting elected to the first Pro Bowl, because back then the people you played against voted you in, and to me that was just the ultimate honor. But this takes the cake. Thank you so much for being here. Thank you. It's the greatest thing in my life right now.

Richard Dent HOF enshrinement speech

August, 6, 2011
Richard DentJason Miller/Getty ImagesFour-time Pro Bowl defensive end Richard Dent was a Super Bowl MVP for the Bears.
Hall of Fame enshrinement speech for defensive end Richard Dent, who starred for the Bears from 1983-93. He also played for the 49ers, Colts and Eagles.

Thank you, thank you, thank you. You know, I grew up in a time where a man always said, I have a dream, and that man was Martin Luther King. And as a kid growing up at that time listening to him all I could do is dream. I wanted to be someone special that my mother and my father and my family looked up to. I wanted to be someone that, you know, I enjoyed playing a game, but then again I enjoyed working and just trying to take care of myself.

When you've got seven brothers and one sister and you're number six out of nine, there's not much left over for you. When you ask for food, my dad would tell you a burger's only going to last for a second. You don't need anything. I don't have a dollar for you.

Richard Dent went to work and tried to find himself. It was tough. Not in my wildest dream that I thought I'd be here. When you have dreams, it's very tough to say that you can do everything by yourself. It's all about other people. None of us can get anywhere by ourselves.

I had a friend of mine by the name of Scott Dean who gave up the band to help me to stay in school and helped me to pursue my dream. I had a young lady by the name of Ms. Sandy Payton. Ms. Payton and I used to hang out in her store when I was eight years old, and she decided to give me a job because she knew that I was taking things. It was a clothing store, so she taught me a lot about business, so she gave me something to look forward to.

There was another lady by the name of Ms. Mary Knight. Ms. Knight's about 93 years old. Ms. Knight, you know, you took care of my mother. My mother and I and took care of people, raised people, raised people in our community, and I commend you so much, Ms. Knight, I appreciate your love. I appreciate you coming here to celebrate this with us.

There is, also a guy by the name of William Lester that told my mother, look, I'm going to try to do something for him. Because I know he would want to leave the state of Georgia, because wasn't taking the place of Georgia.

When I grew up I used to watch Claude Humphrey, and I used to watch Tommy Nobis, and Hank Aaron, and Mohamed Ali, so as a kid, I loved Claude Humphrey and didn't know I was going to go to Tennessee State. I took a little piece of Claude, and little piece of Mohammed Ali and said I am going to raise some hell. So from there, William Lester, like coach said, he dropped me off. Tennessee State wanted three other friends of mine from Murphy High School. Murphy High School guys would you stand up? Chuck, I appreciate you guys. You know, Coach Lester dropped me off and you know we finished school August 6. I was at Tennessee State August 8, and before you know it, I was working at Sunbeam Bread August 9th and in summer school.

But, you know, that was important to me. It was important to me that William Lester and I moved out of the neighborhood, And Coach Lester gave me a ride for two years in a row. Between him and his wife, they gave me a ride and allowed me to walk about a mile home, but yet I didn't want to transfer. I came in the game late. And William Lester and his family, you know, he died a couple years ago.

We had a chance to do this at the Georgia Hall of Fame, and I just want to say thank you because if it weren't for him, I couldn't be here today. I wouldn't be in Chicago, and I'd have never gotten to Tennessee. So thank you there.

Also, the first guy out of Atlanta, Georgia, out of Atlanta public school for the Hall of Fame, the first player out of the state, you know, I just couldn't believe it. What, 100 something years that one could do such a thing, but that's what took place.

So my Tennessee State people, are you out there? I love you all, because my Tennessee State people shaped me, you know, loved me. I appreciate the band coming out and it was nothing like going to big blue. Big Blue was awesome.

All the guys that I played with there, I appreciate you guys coming out. Aron Ford, Joe Adams, John Smith, and if you don't mind, I would love for you guys to reach on out and give my coach, give your coach, you might have been a student or you might have been any alumni, I'd love for everybody to just stand and give Coach Gilliam a hand for all that he's done in the last 35 to 40 years. A man that had a record of 254 wins, 93 ties, 15 losses, sent over 147 guys to the pros, had a 1948 undefeated team in Indiana, and '45. First black quarterback, first black backfield.

Let me tell you, you don't meet this kind of person too often. I used to hate this person, but I learned to love him (Coach Gilliam). You know what I mean? I learned to love him because he shaped me and he made things work for me. Coach, thank you, Coach. Thank you, thank you.

Dr. Frederick Humphries, our former president, I'd like to say hello to you, doc. Thank you for coming out. Paula, our new president, thank you for bringing the band out. I know it cost you a lot. We are the first, and well, I should say I am the first for Tennessee State, and I really appreciate your love and I appreciate you coming out and bringing the kids out.

Craig Gilliam is coach's son, and Craig is first guy that taught me how to breakdown films. Taught me how to, you know, sink in on ballplayers. Craig, I'd like to say thanks, and I appreciate your love. Thank you a lot, Craig. Thank you a lot, baby.

There are two other guys that I should say I stand on your shoulders, and that's Claude Humphrey and "Too Tall" Jones. I think "Too Tall" is out here somewhere. "Too Tall" and Mr. Humphries, Claude Humphrey I want to say thank you because there wouldn't be no me without you.

I used to get in a little trouble in college back in the day. And there was a gentleman by the name of Dean Murrell. Dean Murrell and Ms. Murrell were husband and wife, and they were the Dean of the school.
Ms. Murrell, I want to say thank you. Please stand, thank you, Ms. Murrell. Thank you for your time, for Dean who is not here anymore, but thank you.

Also I'd like to say thanks to some guys that I started the game with, Jim Osborne and Emery Moorehead, and Neil Anderson, Al Fontenot. And I'd like to say thanks I like that '85 team out there. I know I've got that Chicago '85 team. Where you at? Please give me a little love. There they are. There they are, thank you. Derek Benson, Tyrone Keys, Mike Richardson, Emery Moorehead, Dan Hampton, Steve McMichael, love you, Steve. Steve, I hope to see you up here some time. You were the heart of the defense, and you made it work for us.

Most important of all, it's a guy by the name of Jimbo Covert that I had to lineup and practice against day in and day out. He made the game easy for me, because I knew I wasn't going to face a guy like him in the game. But me and Jimbo, we definitely pushed each other to make each other the best. Walter was great for a long time. He led rushers for a long time. Jimbo I look forward to seeing you on the stage. I love you brother, thank you.
The guy that found me was a guy by the name of Bill Tobin. I was so skinny when I came in the league. I was 228 pounds. I had bad teeth and I didn't know what was going to take place. But, Bill, appreciate your love, Bill. Please stand. Thank you. Yeah, I know you wanted me to go higher, I went lower, but that's all right. We're here.

Dale Haupt was our defensive line coach. Coach Haupt, thank you for coming and your family. Appreciate you. That's Mr. Drill Sargeant, guys, Mr. Drill Sargeant.

John Levra, Coach Levra thank you for coming, too. Thank you a lot.

Also, you know, I love to thank the Chicago fans and the people in Chicago. You know, it's such a great place to play. It's where the game started. There's not a better place to play. It means so much to me to get a chance to play there where a guy like Walter Payton, and a guy like Dick Butkus, and a broad shoulder like the city of Chicago. It was a pleasure to get a chance to entertain them on Sunday to allow us to come into their home and have so much fun.

Thank the 49ers and the Eagles and the Colts also for giving me a chance to come and play with those folks.
My dad, dad, I know you're sitting there. Thank you, Dad, because you taught me some things about hard work. You know, I used to bump a lot of clothes with you and click a lot of clocks, and I'm just glad that you didn't allow me to go to jail with you that day either when we went fishing and you didn't have a license anymore. The guy told you to follow him, and we went another route. Thank you, Dad, thank you, because I was seven and my brother was six. Who knows what was going to happen in Covington, Georgia, if you know Covington, Georgia, you know.

Obviously, my mother was my heart. And I tell you, I couldn't be here without her. Everybody else were daddy's boys, I was mama's boy. I'm so thankful to be here. I wish my mother was here, but obviously not. My sister, Brenda, my brother Naji, and Johnny, and Steve, you know, thank you guys because you guys had that band back in the day.

In the '60s, if you had a lot of kids, everybody wanted to be the next Michael Jackson group, and hell, it didn't happen, but I went and cut some grass.

Brothers, thank you, guys. Thank you over there, my brothers. Thank you. Thank you a lot.
You know, my two daughters, Mary, Sarah, I love you to death. My son, R.J., you guys got this legacy, and I look forward to you guys to take it on with the Make a Dent Foundation. Angie Sandborg who has been my mother in Chicago, thank you, Angie, for helping me out, because nobody can do anything alone. You have to have some type of support mechanism.

When I tell kids don't look at me as a player. If you're going to think of me, you look at Mr. Dent, you take the first letter in my first name is dreaming, you must dream. You must dream and you must be dedicated to proceed with anything in life. Okay, when you dream, you have to get up and do something about it.

The letter E, you have to be educated to figure out what to do, how to do and when to do. The letter N, you represent your family, your name, your team, where you came from, whoever. And the letter T is, you know, you're going to get knocked down one day, folks.

But you got to get back up and you've got to try again. These challenges were tough for me here today. I don't have a lot of time to tell you how long it took to get me here. But I took those four letters and I was destined to make something of myself, of my community, and my friends, and my loved ones, everybody to appreciate.

I'd like to thanks to some people that are not here anymore that are important to my life also. Obviously my mother, Dwayne Roberts, Brian Howard, a buddy of mine named Bruce Walker who taught me the pass rush to move in Tennessee State. Steve Moore who played against in the Super Bowl. We were both rookies coming out of it. And obviously a guy named Fred Washington who was just at the Bears for a short time who I became to love.

A guy like Todd Bell who both of us saw ourselves the same. Todd was a great man. Obviously, the late Dave Duerson and the late Drew Hill.

But the guy who I tried to pattern myself on was the late great Walter Payton. Walter was the best of all. I loved watching this man go to work. Also I'd like to congratulate the class of 2011. Congratulations, brothers. I look forward to being in this house.

As a kid, you look at some of these guys left to right, I've watched these guys as a little one and never thought everything in sports I'd dream and I'd seen myself accomplish, but I never thought about being in the Hall of Fame. This kid I had a chance to meet one time, and he told me, hey, brother, keep doing what you're doing, you'll get there one day. The leader just started.

Also, I'd like to thank all the people at the Hall of Fame for the festivities, and putting this on. Like I told my friends last night, it's time to party. It's time to drop it like it's hot.

I have to thank my buddy, M.J., my buddy at Luke Capital, FirstEnergy and First Communications and the Borris family for putting this party on the for us. Thank you all, love you all, see you down the road.

Ed Sabol HOF enshrinement speech

August, 6, 2011
Ed SabolAP Photo/Ron Schwane"I dreamed the impossible dream," Ed Sabol said, "and I'm living it right this minute."
Hall of Fame enshrinement speech for Ed Sabol, founder of NFL Films:

I dreamed a dream, the impossible dream. I dreamed the impossible dream, and I'm living it right this minute. I said that twice because at my age, you know, your memory starts to go a little bit. In case I forgot it, I would have a backup. Now if you can figure that out, you're pretty smart.

I have been to many of these events in the past, usually shooting a camera and the Enshrinees would usually come up and most of them would say pretty much the same thing. They would congratulate their pro coach, their college coach, their high school coach, their grammar school coach, and even sometimes their 80 pound coach.

But I didn't have the luxury of the advice for all of those wonderful coaches, but I do have some fans. And those fans are all you people sitting out there in those seats.

But of course this honor tonight really goes to NFL Films. I just happen to be accepting all the accolades and all of the other things that go with it. But it has been really exceptional.

I just want to say one thing, I've been very, very happy and very proud to have been your boss for all these years. You're a great bunch of people dedicated and loyal and hardworking, and you're the reason I'm sitting up here.

So as we get to the end of this, I just want to say thank you, which really doesn't mean much when I say thank you. It's not adequate. Al Jolson, who is an old time entertainer way before your time, when he finished his act he used to say, "Folks, you ain't seen nothing yet."

So I'm just going to say, thank you, God bless you, good luck and thank you again.

Hall of Fame speech order

August, 6, 2011
CANTON, Ohio -- Here is the order of inductees for Saturday's 2011 Hall of Fame ceremony.
  • Ed Sabol
  • DE Richard Dent
  • LB Chris Hanburger
  • TE Shannon Sharpe
  • RB Marshall Faulk
  • LB Les Richter
  • CB Deion Sanders

Rainy day in Canton

August, 6, 2011
CANTON, Ohio -- It's only fitting that this year's Hall of Fame ceremony will be a damp one. Because, in some ways, the lengthy NFL lockout already rained on Canton's parade.

Heavy rains throughout the afternoon have made Fawcett Stadium and the surrounding areas soggy about an hour before the 2011 Hall of Fame inductions. The incoming crowd is sparse compared to previous years I've covered the event. The lockout forced a cancellation of Sunday's game between the Chicago Bears and St. Louis Rams, which has contributed to low attendance.

Many of the fans here are wearing ponchos and have umbrellas. The weather is holding up right now, but the forecast says there is a chance for additional rain and perhaps scattered thunderstorms later this evening.

The plan is to carry on the ceremony regardless of rain. Heavy thunderstorms in Canton would be the worst-case scenario. That could force a delay -- similar to a football game.

Curtis Martin agrees with Hall of Fame vote

February, 5, 2011
Curtis Martin doesn't seem too broken up over not being a first-ballot Pro Football Hall of Famer.

The New York Jets and New England Patriots running back finished among the top 10 finalists. He didn't make the next cut; the selection committee votes yea or nay on the top five.

Martin released a statement through the Jets about Saturday's selection process:
"I think the voting committee did a great job selecting the 2011 class. If I were a part of the committee I can't say that I would have voted any differently. I'm not being modest at all, but I truly don't feel that there's anyone in this year's class that I should have bested in the voting process.

"Of course, I would have loved to get in this year, but, No. 1, the inductees truly deserved it. No. 2, there's always next year! I thank you all for the recognition and congratulations to this year's inductees!"

Cris Carter again falls short

February, 5, 2011
DALLAS -- I wish I had an explanation for what many of you are already asking: What is keeping former Minnesota Vikings receiver Cris Carter out of the Pro Football Hall of Fame?

When Carter retired in 2002, he ranked second on the NFL's all-time list of receptions (1,101) and touchdowns (130). He was one of the top receivers of his generation, but on Saturday he missed the selection committee's first cut for the second consecutive year. Former Buffalo Bills receiver Andre Reed made the first cut but was dropped after the second.

As we've noted before, Carter has several factors working against him that are out of his control.

First, the receiver position is not as valued as some others. Only 21 are currently enshrined.

Second, Carter seems to have been caught in a glut of receivers each year. Former Oakland Raiders receiver Tim Brown was also a finalist this season, and Sports Illustrated's Peter King -- who is also a voter -- tweeted: "My sense is Reed, Carter, Brown canceling each other out. A shame, but I can tell you it's an honest disagreement by voters."

If that's the case, then it should just be a matter of time for Carter -- just as it was for former Chicago Bears defensive end Richard Dent, who finally got his call Saturday.

Indeed, Tom Kowalski of -- another voter -- tweeted: "My guess? All 10 of the "snubbed" candidates from this season will be in the HOF in the next three years."

'Prime Time' talks about his inspiration

February, 5, 2011
DALLAS -- Deion Sanders is one of the greatest cornerbacks to ever play professional football, and he stamped his ticket to Canton on Saturday evening when he was welcomed into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on his first ballot. He arrived at the media center wearing a "Prime" jogging suit.

[+] EnlargeDeion Sanders
Mark J. Rebilas/US PresswireThere was little doubt Deion Sanders would be a first-ballot Hall of Famer.
Sanders retold the story about how he decided at age 7 that he would find a way to be a rich man. He wanted his mother, Connie Hicks, to be able to leave her job as a janitor.

"I will retire my mama," said Sanders on Saturday, thinking back to his youth. "And she hasn't worked since '89."

He said the children's book, "The Little Engine That Could" had a profound impact on his life.

"I think I can, I think I can, I think I can," said Sanders in a dramatic tone.

He talked about his passion for helping kids and said their "call" must be larger than themselves.

Sanders seemed genuinely moved to be flanked on the stage by Marshall Faulk, Shannon Sharpe, Michael Irvin and Rod Woodson. This is a man who knew he was destined for the Hall from the time he first stepped on the field with the Falcons. In addition to being a shutdown cornerback, he was a dangerous punt returner and could also line up at wide receiver. Everyone knew Sanders would make it on his first ballot.

He was a once-in-a-lifetime player who cashed in his constant self-promotion. He's someone who's always craved the spotlight, and he was in it once again Saturday evening.

Richard Dent finally gets his due

February, 5, 2011
DALLAS -- Saturday was old hat for Richard Dent. For six of the past seven years, he sat idle while the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee passed on his candidacy. He passed through the expected phases of disappointment: From anger to frustration to confusion to tranquility.

[+] EnlargeRichard Dent
Jonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesOver 13 years, Richard Dent recorded 137.5 sacks and forced 37 fumbles.
It seemed hard to believe that any man of Dent's generational impact would be excluded indefinitely from the game's highest individual honor. So Dent jetted off to Las Vegas for a weekend of golf. What the heck? If it happened this year, great. If not, well, Vegas is nice this time of year.

Dent's patience was rewarded Saturday when he finally received his invitation. Coincidentally, it came 25 years after he was named the MVP of Super Bowl XX.

"I'm just so thankful," Dent said. "My daughter Mary called me and everything was happening just at that time, and I kind of went into tears. ... It's very appreciated and I'm very happy. It's been a long time coming."

Indeed, Dent was one of the most dangerous pass rushers of his era, beginning with the Chicago Bears in 1983 and finishing with the Philadelphia Eagles in 1997. He was part of two Super Bowl champions, retiring with the NFL's third-highest sack total (137.5) and the second-most forced fumbles by a defensive lineman (37) at the time.

Hall of Fame quarterback Steve Young, who worked as part of the NFL Network crew that announced Saturday's elections, suggested Dent transformed the game as one of the first ultra-athletic defensive ends who were just as comfortable rushing the passer as they were reaching up for an interception or poking the ball loose from the quarterback.

"I got a sense of that from watching [former New York Giants linebacker Lawrence Taylor]," Dent said. "He was the only other guy that was quick enough that he could decide whether to hit the guy or take the ball from him. If you're in it for yourself, you just care about sacks. But I kind of thought like him, that taking the ball away was the best thing because it got you off the field and getting turnovers."

In his most memorable game, Dent forced two fumbles and was credited with 1.5 sacks in the Bears' 46-10 Super Bowl XX victory over the New England Patriots. He is one of three defensive linemen in history to win MVP honors in the Super Bowl.

"You can get sacks," he said, "but if you want to take your game to the next level, it's all about turnovers."

Hall voters first tapped several other pass rushers from Dent's era, including Fred Dean, Bruce Smith and John Randle. The voting committee works in mysterious ways, but there was little doubt it would eventually happen for Dent. This was his year.

Note: Dent is the 27th Bears players to be elected to the Hall of Fame, the highest number among NFL franchises.
Congratulations to running back Marshall Faulk, one of six players and seven people elected Saturday to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

We chronicled his contribution to the Indianapolis Colts in this post on Friday.

His five-season term with the Colts ended after back-to-back 3-13 seasons. In his first season with St. Louis he helped the Rams win Super Bowl XXXIV over the Tennessee Titans.

Once upon a time it was unreasonable to expect a running back to do all that Faulk did. He was a breathtaking runner, a receiver who could line up anywhere and a reliable blocker. Now, while such three-in-one players are rare, personnel folks know they are possible and every team in the league craves a player like Faulk.

Ask his contemporaries about the most difficult player to matchup with in his era, and a lot of them will say it was Faulk.

He’ll be the 12th Hall of Famer to have played for or coached the Colts. The others are Raymond Berry, Eric Dickerson, Art Donovan, Weeb Ewbank, Ted Hendricks, John Mackey, Gino Marchetti, Lenny Moore, Jim Parker, Don Shula and John Unitas.

The media panel that votes is sworn to secrecy about details. But one of them, our NFC West guro Mike Sando, indicated Faulk had more of a case for inclusion made on his behalf than was needed.