Notes from Canton: Bills ready for a big weekend

CANTON, Ohio -- For Jim Kelly, one of the highlights of Friday's annual luncheon for incumbent members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame to welcome the newest class of inductees was seeing Ralph Wilson sitting in the room and taking it all in.

The former Buffalo Bills quarterback and member of the Hall Class of 2002 was so moved by the sight, he stood to share his feelings with his fellow Hall of Famers.

"Today is a very special day because Mr. Wilson is able to be here in person when he goes in (Saturday night)," Kelly said of the 90-year-old Bills owner.

Live from Canton

We're blogging live from Canton all weekend long. Get all of the latest news and notes from the festivities at the Pro Football Hall of Fame.  More ...

Another highlight of the Ray Nitschke Luncheon was the photo that was taken of all of the BillsHall of Famers in attendance, including Bruce Smith, another member of the Class of '09, and former Buffalo coach Marv Levy.

Munoz: Smith one of the best he faced

Hall-of-Famer Anthony Munoz, widely regarded as the greatest offensive tackle in NFL history, won't say who he thinks is the greatest defensive end to play the game.

But he does think it's probably a close call between Smith, whom he faced on multiple occasions when Munoz was with the Cincinnati Bengals, and the late Reggie White, whom he never faced because White was lined up on the other end of the defensive line.

"I just watched Reggie play, and what I saw was unbelievable," Munoz. "The way he literally tossed offensive tackles was unbelievable. But for me, Bruce was probably one of the best I ever played against. Just athletically, with that speed and strength. In my career, I saw defensive ends first and second down because they had pass-rushing specialists, but you knew Bruce was going to be in there every down."

Berman ready to circle the wagons

Chris Berman, the ESPN announcer who will serve as Wilson's presenter, is excited about being the first speaker for the inductions because the Bills' owner is in the lead-off spot.

Berman, of course, is used to being on the Hall-of-Fame stage as the regular master of ceremonies for the event. But this year, he had to hand over those duties to Rich Eisen of NFL Network.

"I'm not going to speak long, but I'm going to put (the Buffalo-dominated) crowd in a lather," Berman promised. "This is for them."

Heard around the Hall

After retiring as players, Hall-of-Fame defensive back Mel Renfro recalled telling former Dallas Cowboys teammate and Class of '09 inductee Bob Hayes that his induction in the Hall "isn't a matter of if; it's just a matter of when." It was, Renfro said, the same advice he remembered receiving from another Hall-of-Famer, Bob Lilly, when many years passed without him being inducted. … Kelly said the "over-under" on how often Smith will cry during his speech is three. "More than anything, I told him, 'Don't adlib,'" Kelly said, because it presented the greatest risk that he might forget to mention someone important in his career. "And you don't want to do that with this team," Kelly joked. … Since April, Wilson has been working with a personal trainer to help get him ready for his appearance on the Hall stage. … Levy on what made Wilson an outstanding owner: "He cared for the people on the team and in the community of Buffalo. He didn't belabor it. It was just inherent, and you could see it emanating from him in everything he did. ... Artist Sam Cainhicks, a cousin of Bills running back Marshawn Lynch, did paintings of some of the new Hall of Famers that were on display in the lobby of the McKinley Grand Hotel, where the Hall of Famers are staying this weekend. When Wilson, whose face he captured perfectly, saw his painting, he said, "It's me! It's beautiful!"

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