This weekend fans get to see some of their NFL favorites. The Pro Football Hall of Fame weekend is the start of the season and always a special moment for the players and their families. For older fans like myself, we are getting to see players we grew up watching get inducted into Canton. It also makes you feel very old as well, and what is the over/under on how long Ray Lewis speech will be. One of the players who will NOT be in Ohio is Terrell Owens who has chosen to give his Hall of Fame speech at his college University of Tennessee-Chattanooga, the reason behind Owens being the first living member not to attend the ceremony is because he feels he should have been a first-ballot inductee. His stats are off the charts 2nd most receiving yards in NFL history, 3rd most touchdowns, 8th in catches in a 15-year career. T.O. was known and portrayed by the media as a hothead who brought all kinds of issues to the locker room. If it was negative and happening on a team it seemed like somehow Owens was in the middle of it. His gripe is that the Hall of Fame has players who have committed CRIMES and still made it with no issue. He swears he wasn’t the team cancer he was made out to be and many teammates have come out and agreed with him. Either way, no one can take away what he did for the game. This is a Hall of Fame class any 90’s kid can be proud of and only the start of players you played with on Madden or pretended with your friends growing up that will make it to Canton.
Brian Dawkins Philadelphia Eagles:
What will I always remember about Brian Dawkins AKA Weapon X? Two things his passion and that blacked out facemask. He was the heart and soul of those Eagles defenses and he left it all out on the field. The mega-hit he gave Alge Crumbler in the playoffs is just one of many examples how he brought it each game. He helped set the tone for how the Eagles would play for years to come and is well deserving of this honor. They done make safeties like him anymore.
Brian Urlacher Chicago Bears:
Is it safe to say Urlacher put tiny New Mexico State University on the map? When the draft in 2000 came around his combine numbers were the talk of the draft, but could a small school guy fit the bill in the NFL? He went to a team in the Bears that takes the middle linebacker position very serious. He lived up that made it to a Super Bowl and multiple pro bowls and who can forget the 25 tackles game in that Monday Night Football comeback against the Cardinals in 2006. Urlacher proved that it’s not where you go to school but how you ball, and he fits the Bears mold for the type of player they like perfectly.
Randy Moss Minnesota Vikings, New England Patriots:
Where do I start? Besides Jerry Rice, Moss is the best wideout I have ever seen like his nickname he was a super freak. Speed for days and so tall defensive backs stood no chance at all, double teams were a joke the dude was a beast PERIOD. When they make a movie about his life it will be a tale of a young man who had a ton of chances and made some major mistakes. But he moved past them and had an incredible career and is now in this writer’s opinion one of the better NFL analysts around. I will remember him doing things his way like mooning Packers’ fans. And of him running the go route like it was an early morning jog. He was one of a kind and we are lucky to see him, that combo of size and speed is a gift from the football gods.
Ray Lewis Baltimore Ravens: I won’t get into the double murder that is another story for another day. Ray Lewis the football player was unreal. His instincts from play to play was unmatched and as his skills went downhill you couldn’t tell. Why? Because his classroom work studying tape had him in the right place at the right time. Who in the last 10-12 years has been a better ON the field leader than Ray? He inspired grown men to do things on the field they may not have known they could do. I expect a ton of people moving the sofa and lazyboy out of the way on Saturday and doing that pre-game Ray Lewis dance one last dance.
Terrell Owens San Francisco 49ers, Dallas Cowboys, Philadelphia Eagles: In the mold of Urlacher T.O. came from a small school but not only that he played behind a guy many would call the greatest wideout of all time in Jerry Rice. Talk about a tough task to handle but he did and when he caught that game-winning touchdown from Jeff Garcia in the playoffs vs the Packers it was on and popping. With T.O. you got a show he entertained you from the end zone celebrations to the pre and post-game interviews it was never dull or boring. He was also maybe one of the top emotional players in the history of the game. From his tearful “that’s my quarterback” post-game interview or the reaction to the game-winning grab after the Green Bay game. I agree with T.O. that it is absolute crap he wasn’t a first ballot Hall of Famer. I know, I know the sit-ups in the driveway and the outbursts on the sidelines. Ok, …what about playing the Super Bowl with a steel rod in his leg and still giving the Patriots the business, or the games he just took over? Far from perfect but an impact player who used his gifts to make himself a legend in this game we call football.
This class of modern day players is awesome as I said the best is yet to come and each player has his own unique story of how they got here. Saturday is a chance to hear those stories and recall some of our favorite moments for each of them. Football is a special game and it takes special people to play it and the best to ever lace up cleats are in Canton the mecca of the game. Enjoy the inductions and the game on Thursday, the season is now a go and the storylines and amazing moments are only days away. The future members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame are about to take the stage, get your popcorn ready.