Much is made of how the toughest men melt and watch salty tears drip on their Canton blazers until they bleed yellow, but not enough is made of the speeches, which, despite their sincerity, tend to be more formulaic than a Spielberg blockbuster.
For any potential inductees who have procrastinated writing a Hall of Fame speech, we humbly offer what we at Team Bakay inc. call "the All-Purpose hall of Fame Speech template."
Normally we charge enormous consulting fees for this service, but we'll float you this one on good faith. We went with the short form, because brevity is the soul of wit, your memory ain't what it used to be, and studies have shown that weepy interludes are guaranteed to tack an extra 10 minutes on to your prepared materials.
Just customize wherever indicated, and take that podium for the ride of its life. Great speeches, like championships, are built in your preparation. Do your homework, write extra large on index cards, and for goodness sakes bring a hanky.
Fill in the blanks
Choose from: Coach ... Minister ... Uncle who's never had nothin' ... Sister who don't get out much ... Shrink - without these meds, doc ... Anger management counselor ... Last year's reining Miss Universe ... Paris Hilton ... Bill Simmons
Choose from: Helluva ... Hail Mary of an ... Brutally honest ... Long-winded and self-congratulatory ... Surreal and confusing
Choose from: The best in the game ... The man who defined the essence of squatting low and firing off the line ... Ol' Puke Breath ... A supplement-fueled psychopath
Choose from: great warriors ... magnificent bastards ... blood-lusting mercenaries ... sweet-ass slabs of man-meat
Choose from: (name of older player/contemporary you admired) ... (name of opponent you never really liked and made your life hell on the field)
» (name of teammate who split your votes, thereby keeping both of you out of the Hall for years)
Choose from: that
-- it's a shame someone had to lose that day ... the disturbing things you used to yell at me right before the snap ... the way your eyes glazed over when your amphetamines kicked in ... the way you snapped my femur ... the way you ran to the sidelines to avoid getting hit
Choose from: in 1989 ... more summers/battles/wars/years/lawsuits ago than I can remember ... back when I could still put my own pants on in the morning
Choose from: young kid ... crazy dreamer ... rookie with a $10 million signing bonus
Choose from: achool ... an unaccredited JUCO ... the state pen
Choose from: the cornfields of Nebraska ... the South Side of Chicago ... the mean streets of Gross Point, Mich.
Choose from: from (your team's hometown) ... just to avoid quality time with your families
Choose: (Your team's name)
Choose from: (Your first name) ... (Your jersey number -- as in "Old number 99!") ... jackass ... wussy
Choose from: cry ... snork ... blow an emotional snot bubbler ... choke on my own sense of unworthiness
Choose from: alone ... without painkillers
Choose from: is like life ... is why I'm rich
Choose from: dreams come true ... nightmares become reality ... lame restaurants succeed, just because they have a lot of team banners and crap
Pro Football Hall of Fame speech
I'd like to thank my ____1____ for presenting me.
That was a ____2____ introduction, and a reminder to us all why they called you ____3____.
It's an honor to stand beside my fellow inductees.
What great men, what ____4____! In particular, it means so much to be entering the Hall with ____5____ -- I'll never forget ____6____. ____7____, I was ____8____ fresh out of ____9____.
Standing at this podium today, I realize I've come a long way from ____10____.
I see a lot of smiling faces out there. Family, former teammates, and the fans -- especially those of you who drove all the way ____11____. I've always said ____12____ fans are the best fans in the world.
(Wait for applause, start to get weepy.)
Come on, ____13____. I promised myself I wouldn't ____14____.
(Long pause to regain composure, control chin quiver.)
No one gets here ____15____. The game of football ____16____. Thank you for making all of my ____17____.
(Now walk off like the legend you are)
This is an excerpt from Nick Bakay's book Nick Bakay's Tale of the Tape: Taking On the World of Sports, One Fight At a Time.