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Capturing Canton 2013 Day 2 at the Hall of Fame

Welcome to Day 2 in Canton 2013. If one didn’t know any better, hundreds of chairs and spools worth of white “flooring”  covering the turf of Fawcett Stadium in Canton Ohio may seem like a waste of a perfectly good football field.  But this alleged “waste” of a field represents the promised land for 7 hallowed NFL greats.  Put into context of the NFL Hall of Fame Enshrinement, this alleged “wasted space” is an event that any football fan can find precious (at least that’s what I learned).


Once ESPN’s Chris “Boomer” Berman introduced scores of returning enshrined seated on stage for the ceremony, the first to receive his bust was the first ever draft pick of the Baltimore Ravens, OT Jonathan Ogden.He was introduced by the man responsible for drafting him, Hall of Fame player Ozzie Newsome who called Ogden “the greatest player to play the left tackle position”.  Certainly a designation of praise worthy of the first Raven immortalized into the Hall.


The next to follow was LB Dave Robinson.  Presented by his son, the younger Dave Robinson, this classic player was voted in by the senior players as a member of Lombardi’s Packers.  Robinson made an impact not only in the trenches, but intercepting passes dropping back into coverage; a versatility not well known among players of the era.  Robinson mentioned that 1963 was the start of his NFL career and that he, like the Pro Football Hall of Fame itself, is celebrating the 50th year of football life.

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones introduced the other offensive lineman of the 2013 class, Larry Allen.  To those who noticed, I didn’t put a positional designation on Allen’s name because he’s started at every guard and tackle spot on offense and made the Pro Bowl as a guard and tackle at least twice.  While sniffling throughout his speech holding back emotion, he read through list of individuals to assure he offered everyone he should thanks and tribute for his success — most notably his Dallas Cowboys teammates who he practiced against in his days as a rookie.

Coach Bill Parcells was the next inductee to take the microphone presented by former Giant LB George Martin and team player rep without whom Parcells claimed, ” . . . He would not be here . . . “.  As one of the best NFL coaches in the modern era, Parcells showed confidence in the organizations he worked for in the Giants, Jets, Patriots, Cowboys, and Dolphins while also attributing his success to former assistant coaches and players (some of which are Hall of Famers themselves) in saying it was a “. . . kind of a confluence of circumstances that just occurred at once . . .”


Next was Curley Culp, who introduced by Chad Culp, his youngest son.  Having played with the Houston Oilers during his playing career, he’s most famous under coach Hank Stram with the Kansas City Chiefs.  Under the reign of the Hall of Fame Coach, Culp was first assigned to play as an offensive linemen.  When that experiment failed, he was then moved to the defensive line to prevent opposing offenses from matriculating the ball down the field.

While Culp isn’t the headline grabber that some of his 2013 classmates may be, his story is one you’d like to see grab headlines.  During his speech he paid tribute to his household, Coach Stram and the organizations he played for but the most interesting part of the dialogue in my opinion was homage he paid the his deceased parents, Frank and Octavia Culp.

Warren Sapp was presented into the Hall of Fame by his daughter, Mercedes Sapp.  A mainstay of the 2002 Bucs defense, Sapp is highly regarded among the best DTs to ever play the game.  Warren Sapp was a polarizing entity due to his persona on and off the field — even in his home state of Florida (where I also grew up and currently reside).  But as imposing as Warren Sapp was or even still may be, on the Enshrinement stage, Sapp was humble beyond a comprehension capable of the average football fan as he varied from sniffles to elations and back throughout his delivery.  He paid tribute of some form to every part of his personal and professional lives be it his parents, siblings, ex-wife, Tampa Bay teammates LB Derrick Brooks and S John Lynch, his Bucs Coaches Tony Dungy and Jon Gruden, his Raiders Coach Art Shell, and his Showtime and NFL Network cast mates.  There seemed to be no one that night who encountered Sapp in his life to whom he was not grateful for helping him sport a gold jacket.

WR Cris Carter was the final member of the 2013 Hall of Fame Induction class to take the podium.  Delivering his speech after an introduction from his son, Duron Carter, Cris’s presentation was delivered with a tone of arrival and excitement more fitting of a priest’s Sunday sermon than a Minnesota Viking who holds NFL records. After paying tribute to his family and childhood football buddies, he apologized to Ohio State.  “I sincerely apologize for me signing with a sports agent and losing my eligibility my senior year. That is the only regret I have in my athletic career. . .”, he lamented.

Another highlight was when he not only thanked Coach Buddy Ryan for cutting him from the Philadelphia Eagles who first drafted him, but also Ryan’s wife.  He shared that Ryan told that he consulted his wife the night before the Coach officially parted Carter from the team. According to the receiver she said to Coach Ryan, “. . . Don’t cut Cris Carter. He’s going to do something special with his life.”

But the most heartwarming moment of the ceremony was Carter honoring his mother, Joyce, going from a 17 year old who dropped out of high school, to raising 7 kids, to going back to school and getting a high school degree at 40 and her masters degree at age 50.  This dedication not only touched the fans into offering a standing ovation, but brought the returning Hall of Fame members on the stage to their feet to applaud as well.  The greatest celebration of achievement in the venue that night and it wasn’t even about football, but about the story of a supporting force that help lead to ascension into football heaven.


Now that we have honored greats from the past at the induction ceremony, Day 3 of Capturing Canton will focus on the present and the first preseason football game of the year in the Hall of Fame game.


photo by: Matt McGee

Author Profile

Kyle NashThe Student of the Game
Host of the Student of The Game Podcast Monday @ 7:30pm EST
Writer for NGSC Sports
Narrator of Sport Symposium on NGSC Sports YouTube Channel.

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