NFL.com is blanketing Canton as members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame are in town to welcome the Class of 2008. We'll provide updates on what's happening throughout the weekend:
|Ben Liebenberg / NFL.com|
|Hall of Famer Tony Dorsett was happy to sign a few helmets.|
Friday, Aug. 1, 5:03 p.m.
Dorsett: Green had the angle
Darrell Green made quite an impact during his rookie season. He scored a touchdown on a punt return the first time he touched the ball in a preseason game. But he made his biggest splash against the Cowboys when he caught Tony Dorsett from behind. Or so the legend goes from the Redskins' point of view. Dorsett, remembers it a little bit differently. When asked about his impressions of Green, Dorsett wasted no time talking about that play.
"I will never forget Darrell's rookie year because he was the only 'guy' to catch me from behind," Dorsett said.
Did he have an angle?
"He had a great angle. If you watch the play, I was at the line of scrimmage making people miss and he just took off. When I was running down the field I didn't see him in my peripheral. When I saw him, it was too late for me to kick it into another gear. When I got up, I looked down on him and said, 'Where the hell did you come from?'"
I always wanted to get out on the field against him and try it again now that I knew about him."
Friday, Aug. 1, 4:55 p.m.
Dean's wait finally over
"It's always surprising to me when I see a guy like Fred Dean that's taken so long, because I personally had to go out there and block him. So I know for sure that the guy belongs," exclaimed Munoz.
Munoz faced Dean repeatedly early in his career and said he was astounded by the pass rusher's incredible athletic ability.
"I had to ask when I first saw him on film because he was so fast, I thought they must have sped up the tape. For a man his size to have his speed and strength was amazing."
"He was one of those guys that was made to play football. I know he was a big part of the two years I was in San Diego and I appreciated being around him," said Gibbs. -- Jason Feller
Friday, Aug. 1, 4:40 p.m.
Hannah on Tippett
Patriots Hall of Fame offensive lineman John Hannah called teammate Andre Tippett, a member of the 2008 induction class, one of the best pass rushers he ever faced -- though he did so only in practice.
"I practiced one-on-one against Andre many, many times in practice and he was one of the toughest players I ever had to block," said Hannah.
Hannah also went on to credit Patriots owner Bob Kraft with honoring the franchise's greats. He noted that Kraft's creation of a Patriots Hall of Fame is representative of the club's emphasis on building a tradition that goes beyond the current glory of the past decade.
"What he's done now is understanding how that team was built and the great players that built the fan base that allowed him to then come in and build off of that. So he's been great in helping the retired player. So hat's off to him."
|Ben Liebenberg / NFL.com|
|Deacon Jones and Terry Bradshaw had the NFL Auctions room in stitches.|
Friday, Aug. 1, 3:45 p.m.
You ought to be in pictures
Terry Bradshaw told a skeptical Deacon Jones that he never had an agent as a player. But he does have a movie agent, although he has never done a movie with him. Bradshaw has appeared in a number of movies, including the recent animated feature "Robots" along with "Failure to Launch" and "Hooper." His favorite role was playing a racer in the movie "Cannonball Run." The movie featured Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Burt Reynolds, Roger Moore, Jackie Chan, and Farrah Fawcett.
"Dean and Sammy were like watching a stand-up routine during takes," Bradshaw said. "They had us busting up between takes. And there was always this card game that Roger Moore always wanted me to play. I spent a lot of time on that set.
"I wouldn't say it was intimidating working with them, but it's tough when you are crossing boundaries. I had worked with Burt in 'Hooper.' What you find is they rapidly endorse you over here (acting). Not because of your acting skills, but because they respected you as an athlete and eventually pull you in."
That endorsement, evidentially meant invitations to hang out with Frank Sinatra among other perks.
Of course, none of this impressed Jones, who was heard quipping, "I've never seen you on the (expletive) awards."
To which Bradshaw replied, "The only way I'll be at the awards is if I'm driving somebody." -- Adam Rank.
Friday, Aug. 1, 3:02 p.m.
Working the room
More than 70 returning Hall of Famers are staying at the McKinley Grand Hotel in downtown Canton, but the hotel was quiet midday Friday when they left for the Nitschke Luncheon -- the annual super-private event in which the returning members officially welcome the new class into the Hall. Upon their return, it didn't take long for the NFL Auctions room to fill up.
In a five-minute period, Terry Bradshaw, Tony Dorsett, Tom Mack, Jan Stenerud, Deacon Jones, John Hannah, Ken Houston, and Paul Krause all came in to sign footballs and helmets -- which will be auctioned off to benefit the Hall's Enshrinee Assistance Fund.
The Auction crew brought two trucks' worth of memorabilia -- helmets, mini-helmets, footballs -- to be signed. Since Thursday morning, 54 Hall of Famers have already signed items for the program -- including five members of this year's class.
But the room was never as loud as it was when Bradshaw and Jones were there together. They compared notes on their acting careers (more to follow shortly), and told plenty of stories that can't be repeated here.
Jones was impressed with the effort. "I can't believe you got Terry Bradshaw to sign," Jones told the organizers. "He doesn't sign for anybody! You must be good." -- Craig Ellenport
Friday, Aug. 1, 11:42 a.m.
Sanders still floating
We had a chance to chat with Charlie Sanders about how it felt returning to the Hall of Fame for the first time since being inducted last season. He could not contain his awe when talking about how being a Hall of Famer has changed his life and noted that the reception he receives when talking to the community is at an elite level.
"You wear a little bit of humility with this honor because that's what it does, it humbles you. I still haven't come down from the original high, I really haven't," said Sanders.
Sanders went on to say that it's impossible to put into words just how profound the experience has been.
"People ask me to tell them how it feels and there is no explanation. It's a place you've never been before and if you tried to tell them, they couldn't relate to it."
Friday, Aug. 1, 11:30 a.m.
Winslow: Coryell deserving of the Hall
Former players always stump for their coaches, so it is no surprise that Kellen Winslow believes that Don Coryell should be selected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. But Winslow, who credits his Chargers teammates and coach for his Hall of Fame induction, came alive when talking about Coryell. And he makes a compelling point.
|Ben Liebenberg / NFL.com|
|New Hall of Famer Darrell Green (left) was on hand to cut the ceremonial ribbon in celebration of the Pro Football Hall of Fame officially opening a new EA Sports Madden NFL exhibit.|
"Coach Coryell deserves to be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and it's a shame that he is not," Winslow said. "So many offenses that are being run today are variations of 'Air Coryell.' They call it the West Coast offense because San Francisco won Super Bowls with it, but it was a variation of what we did in San Diego. Joe Gibbs' itty-bitty receivers on the outside and two tight ends in the middle, that' a variation of Coryell's offense in San Diego. It's just a personnel change, but it's the same thing. When the Rams won their Super Bowl, it was the same offense, same terminology. For Don Coryell to not be in the Hall of Fame is a lack of knowledge of the voters. That's the nicest way that I can put that. A lack of understanding of the legacy of the game. He deserves to be there just as much as anybody else, any other coach who is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame."
Coryell was not among the 17 finalists for the Class of 2008. -- Adam Rank
Friday, Aug. 1, 11:17 a.m.
It's great to catch up with all the returning Hall of Famers, and it's amazing how they all remember the littlest details of some conversations we may have had years ago. Former Oilers great Elvin Bethea was quick to point out that when the Dallas Cowboys met with him before the 1967 draft, I told him we were going to draft him in the first round. Of course, we did not draft him -- and he went to the Oilers in the third round of the AFL draft.
At least with the guys here who ended up being first-round picks, I tell them, "Well, you would have been our guy…" Gil Brandt
Friday, Aug. 1, 10:55 a.m.
Unlikely triple crown
Kellen Winslow pointed out to us that he didn't start playing football until his senior year of high school. He did, however, play track and field… and was a member of the chess team, which made it to the state championships.
"We went to state in football, track and field and chess," Winslow boasted. "That's a pretty good triple." Craig Ellenport