There were many tears during the Pro Football Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremony on Saturday night. None from any of the new Hall of Famers, however.
As usual, the speeches at Canton, Ohio were touching, poignant and funny. The seven new members of the hall told the stories of their lives and thanked those who helped them reach the sport's pinnacle. Many of the friends, teammates, family and coaches in the crowd broke down in tears hearing how they affected the life of a new Hall of Famer. It was a great night, capped with an all-time great speech by former Giants defensive end Michael Strahan.
Here are the highlights from each of the new Hall of Famers' speeches.
Brooks, known for being one of the NFL's humble stars, spent his speech thanking just about everyone who touched his life through the years, including a large family contingent that came to Canton. He spent a lot of time talking about his roots in Pensacola, Fla., and gave special thanks to his late mother. When he thanked teammate Warren Sapp, who was sitting with the rest of the Hall of Famers, Sapp started getting emotional. He seemed to thank every NFL teammate he had, even former Buccaneers kicker Martin Gramatica for helping win so many low-scoring games during Tampa Bay's glory years.
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Brooks' quote to remember: "This game has taught me to believe in relationships. Trust me, everybody that I just talked about, my relationship with you guys is genuine. I want to thank you for allowing me to be a part of it."
Humphrey got into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in his 28th season of eligibility, and he enjoyed his turn at the podium. Humphrey had a long speech, telling great stories from his career from high school through the pros. The most touching part of his speech came when he spoke about his wife Sandra, who campaigned every year for him to get into the Hall of Fame. She died a little more than a year ago.
Humphrey's quote to remember: "They told me I only had 10 minutes up here. But let me start off by telling you, I waited almost 30 years to get this podium so don't rush me guys. I'm going to be here for a minute."
Williams spoke forcefully and from the heart, speaking with pride about being the second Hall of Famer from New Orleans (Marshall Faulk is the other) and the second Hall of Famer from Southern University (Mel Blount is the other). He was entertaining, telling stories including some about Arizona upsetting Dallas in the 1998 playoffs that cracked up Michael Irvin. Even though Williams promised early on that he would cry during his speech, he never did.
Williams' quote to remember: "I've got two statements, if you don't remember anything else I say: Begin with the end in mind, and die empty."
Jones, known for being a quiet giant during his dominant career with the Seahawks, gave a great speech. He grew up poor but thanked his mother for always providing everything the family needed. He had a hilarious moment when he followed through on a promise to his daughter to plug her Instagram account. He came off as funny and personable, while thanking everyone and having some heartfelt moments.
Jones' quote to remember: "Matt [Hasselbeck], sorry I slapped you at training camp. Because I protect the quarterbacks, I have the right to slap the quarterbacks."
As the first full-time punter ever elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Guy talked near the end of his speech about how he hopes other punters now have a chance to be enshrined, and he hopes that inspires others. "Now the Hall of Fame has a complete team," he said. Guy spent a lot of time talking about his late parents, who were obviously a big influence on him.
Guy's quote to remember (about his late parents): "Even though they're not here, they are here. They're up above watching and cheering, and I know they're looking down from above and smiling and beaming with pride and cheering me on, as they always did during my playing days."
Before Reed began his speech, he had to wait for a huge ovation from the many Bills fans in attendance to die down. He gave a tremendous speech once the crowd let him talk. Reed talked about his late father, and his mother, who was in attendance. With his mother crying as he spoke, Reed said, "Tonight, you're in the Hall of Fame too." Reed also was open about how his father was an alcoholic and how sports were his safe haven growing up. When Reed was thanking his teammates, he got to Jim Kelly, the former Bills quarterback who has been battling cancer. "I was known for my toughness going across the middle and making that catch, breaking tackles, but the toughest individual I've ever met in my life is Jim Kelly, No. 12," Reed said. That great moment drew another ovation for Kelly, who got a long cheer from the crowd and his fellow Hall of Famers before the ceremony started. When Reed's speech was done, Kelly threw him a pass on stage and gave him a hug.
Reed's quote to remember: "Oh yeah, and the Bills will stay in Buffalo, too."
Early in his speech, Strahan, who now co-hosts a daytime television talk show, told the crowd, "This is not TV Michael, this is football Michael." The loquacious Strahan was as smooth and entertaining as you'd expect. He joked that he hurt his foot as a rookie doing a sack dance, and said it was the first time he was coming clean about how he hurt it. That was how his entire speech went, a lighthearted journey through his life and career. He had a joke for just about every teammate and coach in attendance, and had the crowd rolling when he talked about trying to figure out how to pump up the always-calm Eli Manning before games. At times it felt like a stand-up routine, but it included the perfect amount of respect and sentimentality. It will go down as one of the greatest Hall of Fame speeches.
Strahan's quote to remember: "For what the game of football has done for me, I am eternally grateful for this game. It's all so improbable."
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