I’ve watched Hall of Fame Enshrinement ceremonies for years now and love to hear what the players and those slated to introduce them are going to say. The actual televised event has changed slightly over the years where the person making the player introduction no longer does it on live television; video montages combining the introduction and the player’s on field accomplishments are pre-produced and shown prior to revealing the inductee’s bust that will be forever held in Canton. The video montage is no doubt an idea that stemmed from NFL Films, a business that changed the way we see football.
The founder of NFL Films, Ed Sabol, was one of this year’s inductees and deservedly so. I can’t imagine that America would be so passionate about football without all of the video we have about the game. NFL Films certainly was the precursor to my favorite television channel - the NFL Network. Without all of the years of film shot by NFL Films, we fans would not be able to truly remember some of our team’s greatest moments, as well as the times we’d rather forget (like “The Catch”). The video montage played before Ed Sabol’s induction, which was created by his son, current NFL Films President Steve Sabol, was fabulous! If you missed it, check out www.nfl.com.
The other Class of 2011 inductees are:
Richard Dent, Defensive End. Dent is the first Tennessee State alum to be inducted. He played 15 years with the Chicago Bears, San Francisco 49ers, Indianapolis Colts, and Philadelphia Eagles. Dent is most notably remembered for his incredible play as a member of the awesome 1985 Bears defense.
Les Richter, Running Back. Richter played at California and stayed in state to play professionally with the Los Angeles Rams. He was a Senior Nominee and was posthumously inducted. Richter was represented at the ceremony by his son and daughter.
Shannon Sharpe, Tight End. Sharpe was a seventh round draft choice out of Savannah State who played 14 seasons with the Denver Broncos and Baltimore Ravens. He won three Super Bowls and was known as a very physical player who talked a lot. During his speech, Sharpe focused on his humble beginnings and spoke often about the effect his now deceased grandmother Mary Porter had on him. Sharpe also made a plea to the Hall of Fame Selection Committee to consider his brother Sterling for induction.
Sharpe’s speech was moving and gave us insight into Shannon the man.
Chris Hanburger, Linebacker. Hanburger played at North Carolina and was drafted by the Washington Redskins. In his 14 years in the NFL, Hanburger was known as “The Hangman” because of his physical play. Hanburger was also a Senior Nominee.
Marshall Faulk, Running Back. Faulk played at San Diego State and was the second overall selection in the 1994 draft by the Indianapolis Colts. Faulk played 12 seasons with the Colts and St. Louis Rams. He was a member of the Rams “Greatest Show on Turf” with Kurt Warner and Torry Holt that won a Super Bowl. Faulk made sure to touch upon how he used football to get out of New Orleans’ 9th Ward and to thank all the people that molded him into the man he is today.
Deion Sanders, Cornerback. Sanders played at Florida State and was a fifth overall pick by the Atlanta Falcons. Sanders also played with the San Francisco 49ers, Dallas Cowboys, Washington Redskins, and Baltimore Ravens. Prime Time made it abundantly clear in his speech that the persona we saw while he was playing is not really him. He had to make it up in order to standout. Because at the time he started playing NFL cornerbacks did not make a lot of money, he had to standout. Thus, Prime Time was everywhere on and off the field. And why did Deion need this alter ego and lots of money? He did it to make sure that his Momma did not have to work another day in her life. It was touching to see that he cared so much about his Mom. Of course Deion could not leave the podium without doing something that’s never been done in Canton. He placed his trademark doo rag on his bust. Always the entertainer!
With the induction of these seven men, the total number of Hall of Fame members is 267. There are two finalists from 2011 who were not inducted that I would love to see inducted in 2012 - Chris Doleman (who attended my high school...Go Bearcats!!) and Charles Haley. I’ll be following their candidacy closely. Until the next class is announced, I’ll be following this NFL season very closely. Boy, am I glad the NFL is back!