The best laid plans…
I don’t know who the mice and men were on Saturday, but they surely made things go awry.
One of the reasons for coming to Canton was to do a live show from here. My partner, Russell S Baxter, and I wanted to do our 1st and 60 Show somewhere in Canton. We found a place through some fortuitous connections by Russ and decided to broadcast live from TD’s Tailgate Grill in downtown Canton.
As we were going to utilize Google+Hangouts On Air, we needed to do some early testing. Testing was necessary – the mere thought of trying to achieve this only provided a few hours of sleep the night prior. Although mixed early results, we thought we had it figured out. Oh how wrong I was!!!!!
If you have a couple of hours to spare and want to see a train wreck, well…this is for you:
Best laid plans don’t always include a bar full of rabid Buffalo Bills fans and a nasty storm rolling through. Remember that “Freeze Frame” song by J. Geils Band? Well, we had our own version of freeze-frame action going on. Freeze-frame, audio-freeze. I wouldn’t be surprised if Mr. Freeze was in town.
So flustered was I that I had to order a BBQ Bacon Burger and fries. Normally this is where you put a #foodporn pic, but I was too frustrated to remember to pick up that phone and snap that pic. I picked up fry after fry after fry instead. Then the burger. Then, fry after fry after fry.
And it was good.
Many, many thanks to the folks from TD’s Tailgate Grill for allowing us to attempt our Hangout from their establishment. Scott and his crew have a terrific place in Canton, OH. Special thanks to our waitress, Kayla.
Dwelling on that would not do today. There was a Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony to attend. I had no idea what to expect. But, my partner is an old pro at this, so I had nothing to worry about.
I thought I would have a different feeling walking into the stadium. A surreal moment? Maybe. But, it wasn’t like that for me.
It’s surprising. I’ve been in stadiums before. I’ve been to the Rose Bowl for a Rose Bowl game, not a regular season UCLA game. The Rose Bowl was magical. Fawcett Stadium was unassuming. Unpretentious. Nothing fancy. It is what it needs to be.
And, that fits just fine in the game of football.
I will admit, however, that it felt (for lack of a better word) weird to walk into the press box. I’ve walked into press boxes before, but not for an NFL event. On a daily basis, I see thousands of tweets (literally) in my job for Sportsmanias. I see their tweets and faces every work day. Seeing them in person all gathered together in one place felt a little…weird.
Well, that and this wasn’t an ordinary event. We would be witness to a momentous occasion in the lives of seven men and their families. Much sacrifice by both players and families. Many came from humble beginnings. Family was key to their development. That means both positively and negatively. Andre Reed mentioned his father was an alcoholic. Walter Jones “loved on” his mama from the podium for all she gave to him and his family growing up. No mention of his father.
And that’s what struck me. Every single player mentioned family.
They mentioned coaches.
They mentioned teammates.
They mentioned friends.
They mentioned people throughout their lives who helped them along the way. Even as kids.
Cheyenne Humphrey-Robinson, daughter of Hall of Famer, Claude Humphrey told how her father would bench press her and her sisters. Why? He wanted to “incorporate” them so they “would understand” what he did. He gave them a piece of himself while he gave a piece to his craft.
Living in the Pacific Northwest, I was able to see Walter Jones play (on television only) on a weekly basis during the season. I knew of his holdouts. And, the franchise tags. I think I even saw him once in person when the Seattle Seahawks used to have training camp in Cheney, WA (home of Eastern Washington University).
Dude was big.
Dude had a trunk. A big, bad-a$$ trunk.
When I listened to him last night, though, I didn’t think of what he did as much as what he said. Or rather, who he said it to.
To his ex-wife.
I’ve heard or read the stories about what it takes to be a professional athlete. Many marriages fall apart because being a top-level athlete puts a strain on the relationship. It’s not the cause by any means, but it’s a key contributor.
It’s not often you hear someone thanking their “ex”. Jones even called her a friend. And yes, she was in the audience.
You could hear a pin drop.
Both in the press box and in the stadium.
Andre Reed was at the podium. Buffalo Bills fans were in the house.
Wait. Let me correct that. Andre Reed was at the pulpit. Buffalo Bills fans were in the sanctuary.
Reed preached. Heck, a lot of the players preached in some way last night (more on that later). Although he would go on to have the longest speech last night, Reed should have just dropped the mic when he said early in his speech, “And oh yeah, the Bills will stay in Buffalo too.” (Google: Jon Bon Jovi, Buffalo Bills).
He wasn’t the only one with some memorable moments in his speech. Nothing quite like a pin dropping with Reed, but still memorable. Or, the roar of the crowd whenever former Bills’ quarterback Jim Kelly’s name was mentioned or he was seen on the screen.
Or this gem from Claude Humphrey:
“My baby girl came purely by accident. We knew where babies came from. It was such an enjoyable experience…” Claude Humphrey #PFHOF14
— E Sunny Cadwallader (@CadChica) August 3, 2014
— E Sunny Cadwallader (@CadChica) August 3, 2014
There were two speeches that stood out to me: Ray Guy and Aeneas Williams.
Guy for the obvious reason that he is an Oakland Raider and the first punter to ever be elected to the Hall of Fame. Although I was in the press box, I did find myself fighting back tears. Even when I was young, I knew there was something special about him. Listening to him last night, I still new. Some Ray Guy quotes:
- On his parents: “Even though they are not here, they are here.”
- On his mom watching games: “I don’t know how my mom ever knew what was going on because she had her eyes closed.”
- On family: “I was taught to respect the family life.”
- On playing for the Raiders: “I knew God had something special for me.” “Playing for the Raiders was my destiny.”
- On advice from his dad: “Be who you are and no one else.”
- On being in the Hall of Fame: “Now, the Hall of Fame has a complete team.”
Aeneas Williams made me feel like I was in church.
Or in the huddle.
Speaking eloquently, Williams brought you in to who he was as a player and who he is as a person. Passionate. Every indication to me is that he’s passionate about everything. Faith, family, football. You name it, Williams is probably passionate about it. Two of the key phrases he passionately spoke about:
#1: Begin with the end in mind.
“The goal is to reach your potential”, Williams said. Begin with the goal of “your potential” is what he was saying. To achieve the heights he has in his football career, there was no time to dwell on what he was not. The focus had to remain on who he could be.
#2: Die empty.
I think the essence of that is give until you can’t give anymore. Give in whatever you do. Give to others. Give all that you are in this life and when you die, there will be nothing left to give. Give and will come back to you.
Begin with the end in mind.
What’s your focus on?
GREAT TWEETS FROM THE NIGHT
— Will Brinson (@WillBrinson) August 3, 2014
Claude Humphrey goes almost 30 minutes but all is forgiven when he thanks the sportswriters!
— Judy Battista (@judybattista) August 3, 2014
12 seasons. 9 Pro Bowls. 9 holding penalties.
— NFL (@NFL) August 3, 2014
— SiriusXM NFL Radio (@SiriusXMNFL) August 3, 2014
Ray Guy is 1st true punter to be enshrined in Hall of Fame. 7-time Pro Bowler won 3 Super Bowls w/ Raiders. pic.twitter.com/Z3XAME7X4V
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) August 3, 2014
Ray Guy is a great example of … everything.
— Michele Tafoya (@Michele_Tafoya) August 3, 2014