NFL 2009–Hall of Fame Sunday

If today were any other Sunday, the column would have been entitled “Recovery Sunday.”

Between Sean Hannity’s San Diego Freedom Concert on Friday night to my Saturday afternoon speech to the Southern California Republican Women and Men to my Saturday night speech at the Ronald Reagan Library for the Golden anniversary of the Simi Valley Republican Women’s Federated, nobody would blame me for taking a nap.

Yet this weekend is a holy weekend for the world of football.

Six men entered the NFL Hall of Fame, and some of the poignant comments of the weekend are forever enshrined in our hearts.

Buffalo Bills Owner Ralph Wilson, at age 91, still feels that he has youth on his side. He told a heartwarming story of a team that was losing 21-7 at halftime. He gave a rousing halftime speech, and then his team ended up losing 51-7. It was suggested to him that next time he give the pep talk to the opponent.

He even remarked that as an owner, he never played football. He played tennis. In tennis, when you go back to serve, linebacker Bruce Smith is not bearing down on you.

Mr. Wilson began his life in football in 1935. He is a true national gridiron treasure, and Canton is as blessed to have him as he is to be enshrined.

Minnesota Vikings Guard Randall McDaniel offered warm words about the value of education. In his life after football, he became a teacher.

He pointed out that he was proud of his life as a player on the field and his actions off of it.

He referred to his mother and his father as his heroes.

He showered praise on his teammates, pointing out that the word “individual” does not exist in the mind of a successful offensive lineman.

Hall of Fame Quarterback Roger Staubach spoke admiringly of his teammate and new inductee, the late Dallas Cowboys Wide Receiver Bob “Bullet” Hayes.

Pittsburgh Steelers (and 49ers, Ravens, and Raiders) Cornerback Rod Woodson spoke passionately about his religious faith, and of his being a biracial child. He made it clear that children of biracial parents do not have to choose a side. God made them that way.

He also pointed out that we as a society often fail to realize what one kind word can do for an individual. Woodson conceded that he was a terrible basketball player, but his coach kept encouraging him.

He even thanked Steelers fans for booing him when he played for the Ravens and Raiders, pointing out that he would have lost respect for them if he did not boo him.

Former Kansas City Chiefs President Carl Peterson had warm words for his very first draft pick, the late Chiefs linebacker Derrick Thomas.

It was pointed out that Thomas earned his college degree, but died before the commencement ceremony. His mother and grandmother walked in his place to accept the diploma.

Derrick Thomas had a special affection for troops serving in the military. His father was a B-52 pilot. He visited military personnel as often as possible, and loved the military flyovers before games.

He won the Walter Payton award, a humanitarian award, and was Point of Light # 832 of President George Herbert Walker Bush. The Derrick Thomas Academy is the only charter school in America named after a professional athlete.

Buffalo Bills Linebacker Bruce Smith had the joke of the entire day when he turned to Thurman Thomas and said, “I hid your helmet.” That was a reference to Thomas not finding his helmet at the start of one of their Super Bowls.

In a serious and moment that few may have noticed, he credited teammate Darryl Talley for putting up with 10 years of sleep apnea as a roommate. Reggie White died of sleep apnea, and I have it as well. I hope Mr. Smith gets his taken care of.

As the NFL leader with 200 sacks (exempting Deacon Jones, whose total rises every year despite being retired for decades), Smith reserved special praise for his own son for being an exceptional human being with moral courage.

(This column will be updated throughout the day. Yes, I am aware the ceremony was yesterday. I am exhausted, and still have a kickball game to play. Good night for now.)

(Further update: My kickball team lost 17-1 to the Pink team. It was humiliated. The game was called due to the mercy rule. We are not that bad, and they are not that good, but today was a good day for them and not us. They were nice about it, and won with class. Yet losing to a pink team should not happen.)

At several minutes after 5pm PST, the Buffalo Bills and Tennessee Titans kicked off in the 2009 NFL Hall of Fame Game.

God bless the USA and the NFL.

Are you ready for some football!!!!!!

Let’s get it on!!!!!!!


(Update: Preseason football itself is supposed to be boring. Titans Coach Jeff Fisher called a play that I don’t ever expect to see in the regular season. On 4th and 10, a fake punt turned into a statue of liberty play. Backup punter AJ Trapasso ran 40 yards for the touchdown. It looked like the punt was blocked. It was just never kicked. Both teams wore throwback uniforms to calebrate the 50 year anniversary of the old AFL.  The 2009 NFL Season has already had a spectacular beginning.)

2 Responses to “NFL 2009–Hall of Fame Sunday”

  1. […] NFL 2009–Hall of Fame Sunday | THE TYGRRRR EXPRESS […]

  2. Looks like Vince Young was a truly just a brief flash in the pan that fizzled out almost a year ago now. Here comes another year of Kerry Collins. And judging from this first outing, the AFC South had better watch out for the Titans this year!

    Collinsworth was pretty good. He seems to have toned down his until-yesterday endlessly cynical disposition – let’s see if that lasts. No one likes color commentary if the colors are just black and white. But Collinsworth seems to understand that when he’s in the booth. It’s been years since I remember him being in the booth, and even then only once or twice that I can recall. He does seem to understand the difference between being in the booth and being on some panel commentary show. I’m happily surprised. No one can replace Madden and Collinsworth seems to understand that, but he also seems to understand that simply being the complete “opposite” to Madden would be a mistake. Cris has to be himself and yet somehow not be that “self” that many of us fans have come to know and dislike. He seems to be doing just that. I’d give him an “A” for his effort, restraint and professionalism in his first outing in this new venue.


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