CANTON, Ohio -- It's not every day you have the opportunity to talk football with Gil Brandt.
The former vice president of player personnel for the Dallas Cowboys is moonlighting this weekend as the mayor of Canton. When he's not huddled with Bill Parcells or John Madden, he's talking shop down the hallway with Earl Campbell.
Brandt is a storyteller. We asked him to tell us a few tales about this year's Pro Football Hall of Fame class of enshrinees:
Jack Butler: Jack Butler is the most unique story of this group in that he never played high school football. He was talked into coming out for football at St. Bonaventure and, when asked what position he'd like to play, didn't even know the positions. He was recommended to the Pittsburgh Steelers by Art Rooney's brother, Dan Rooney -- not the present Dan Rooney that we know, but the Dan Rooney who was a priest at St. Bonaventure. The (Steelers) offered him a contract for $4,000, and he said, 'Gosh, I'd like $5,000.' And they said, 'Give me the contract back,' and he quickly signed.
Dermontti Dawson: Dermontti Dawson originally was a tight end. After his freshman season (in high school), in which he never got into a game and thought he was a blocking dummy, he quit football. He quit until his junior year, when the high school coach talked him into returning, and from there he went on to a Hall of Fame career.
Chris Doleman: One of the great stories about Doleman was what took place at practice one day (in college), when (Pitt head coach) Jackie Sherrill had the linebacker coach teach (Doleman) how to take on blockers. (The linebacker coach) came out there all dressed with the helmets, shoulder pads, everything on. The first time the coach took him on, Doleman knocked him down and knocked him out for a few seconds.
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Cortez Kennedy: Here's a guy from Wilson, Ark., that was a fat boy in high school and eventually slimmed down, but has been very successful out of football. He lives now in Florida in a gated community. Lou Holtz is one of his neighbors. They had a party for (Kennedy) about a week ago in which Holtz, a U.S. senator and a congressman all showed up. Amazing person and an amazing player.
Curtis Martin: He didn't like football. Not until there was a tragedy. His grandmother was murdered in their home. His mother told him, 'If you ever want to get out of East Pittsburgh, you have to play football.' He loved to play in the schoolyard, but he didn't want to play in a system. ... The thing about Curtis Martin was that he was unflappable. Everybody used to try to pinch him in the pileups, twist his leg in the pileups, and he wouldn't pay any attention to anybody. Just got off the field and got away.
Willie Roaf: Willie Roaf's the only guy I know who's pigeon-toed and bowlegged and is an excellent football player. I don't know if you've ever walked behind Willie Roaf, but if you've ever walked behind Willie Roaf, there's just no way that he looks like he can ever be a football player.