On Saturday evening at Fawcett Stadium in Canton, Ohio, the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2013 will receive their busts. Larry Allen, Cris Carter, Curley Culp, Jonathan Ogden, Bill Parcells, Dave Robinson and Warren Sapp will all take their rightful place in the Hall via their likeness in bronze.
But the night before at the Memorial Civic Center and Cultural Center, the seven enshrinees receive a little token of appreciation that always makes for an amazing memory.
There are few things more stirring than to watch the newest enshrinees receive their Hall of Fame gold jackets, which are placed on them by their presenters. In this year’s class, Carter, Culp, Robinson and Sapp are being inducted by one of their children.
I have been lucky enough to attend the Hall of Fame ceremonies nearly every year since 1989. And while the speeches by the enshrinees during their inductions will have you spellbound and holding back tears, the presentation of the gold jacket can’t be oversold.
Recently, there were few more emotional moments when Sterling Sharpe presented his brother Shannon with his jacket. The love between those men is evident and that evening in 2011 will always be remembered for that moment.
Last night, you felt the same watching Carter receive his jacket from his son. Can you imagine the pride of a man receiving such a professional honor with his child present? Can you imagine the feelings of a son or daughter asked to share that moment with your role model and the person who helped give you your life and raise you?
That’s not to say that those who choose other people than family as their presenters make it any less emotional. Everyone follows a different path in life and in all seven instances on Friday evening, the love and pride between Hall of Famer and presenter was evident.
The evening was also special for another reason. This year is the 50th anniversary of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Over 100 returning enshrinees were in attendance Friday night. There was the great Jim Brown and the amazing Marshall Faulk. There was Anthony Munoz and Bob St. Clair. There was Lynn Swann and John Stallworth and there were the Dallas Cowboys’ “Triplets” in Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin.
The fun in watching the appearance of these greats was watching men like Parcells applaud these legends. And now he and his six classmates will be part of this fraternity forever.
And like any fine establishment, “Jacket Is Required.”
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