CANTON — The annual Hall of Fame weekend here in Canton is one of celebration, and that is exactly what the enshrinement ceremony Saturday night was all about.
The air was electric as many fans of the league (the majority of which were Packers fans sporting their own Brett Favre jersey) came to celebrate the accomplishments of a few greats. The sheer sight of a Brett Favre highlight playing on one of the three big screens surrounding the stage had fans in an uproar.
Marvin Harrison was the first to speak as the long time, record-breaking Indianapolis Colt had his blue and white faithful going crazy. He was not to leave out his teammates, however, as shout outs were given to future Hall of Famers Peyton Manning, Edgerrin James, and Reggie Wayne, who all played next to Harrison many years in Indy.
Next was the Ohio native Orlando Pace, which many fans went crazy for since Pace played his college ball just down the road at The Ohio State University. Pace’s brought tears to both his mother’s eyes and the eyes of many in attendance. Of course, this was not all without a quick O-H-I-O chant with the Buckeye natives prior to his speech.
Following this was the induction of the late Dick Stanfel, who was enshrined on behalf of his three sons. Stanfel was a long time right guard with the Detroit Lions and really helped revolutionize the position.
Of course, what is a hall of fame enshrinement ceremony without a Pittsburgh Steelers. Tough as nails Kevin Greene had the Terrible Towels waving in Canton.
“I’ve never experienced anything like being a Pittsburgh Steeler”, Greene said. “When I was playing here I felt like I was unblock-able”.
Greene, who is also a former member of the U.S. military, gave shout outs to all the men and women who serve our country and also to his very decorated military brother.
The late Ken Stabler was to follow, and if you didn’t believe Raiders fans were insane, the reaction to Stabler’s enshrinement would easily be enough to change your mind. “The Snake”, who led his Raiders to two Super Bowls and winning in 1977 in Super Bowl XI against the Minnesota Vikings, was enshrined on behalf of his grandsons, former Raider and hall of fame receiver Fred Biletnikoff, and other Raider greats.
Former San Francisco 49er owner Ed DeBartolo Jr. also had many interesting stories, many of which involved meeting his players directly after games and even staying with them for long periods of time in the hospital when an injury would occur.
DeBartolo chose to reflect on “The Catch” from the 1982 NFC Championship Game and where he was when it happened. Apparently, his view was actually blocked by an officer on a horse who gave him a thumbs up after the play happened. “That’s how I found out”, DeBartolo said. “My view was blocked by a horse’s a—“.
Tony Dungy was next to speak as his enshrinement was presented by his longtime friend and former Steelers great, Donnie Shell.
Dungy was the youngest African American defensive coordinator to enter the NFL and he was also the first African American head coach to win a Super Bowl when he led his Colts over the Bears in 2006. Dungy, much like Marvin Harrison, was sure to give love to his Colts fans.
“They made me feel like native Hoosiers”, Dungy said. “My family and I are forever grateful for that”.
Last (but certainly not least) was Brett Favre. The very sight of him walking on stage cued the Packer faithful into a “Go Pack Go!” chant that could be heard from McKinley High School.
“I was going to ask if I could play the first series here tomorrow night” Favre said. Based on how fans reacted to that sentiment, it’s safe to say no one would have an issue with it. And heck, he’s came out of retirement before, what’s once more?
Favre definitely wrapped up a remarkable night down at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium, as the lessons and stories told from those NFL greats are ones that anyone could remember for a lifetime.