(Note: When Lem Barney was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1992 he was the fifth cornerback to enter Canton. Charlie Sanders played alongside Barney for 10 seasons and the team went 10-4 in 1970 before losing to Dallas in the playoffs.)
I know it's going to be a nervous situation for you entering the Hall of Fame, but it's always a great situation to be in. There is no greater honor here on Earth than being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Regardless of all the other accolades you may have earned, it will be nothing compared to what you experience during Hall of Fame week.
Pondering the speech, wanting to be as clear as possible and making sure you thank everyone make it nerve-racking, but it is a day of jubilation that you will never forget.
It is a scenario where it's a team you can't be cut from or traded from and the Hall of Fame squad lives in immortality.
It is always something that my wife and I look forward to and we go back each year with great anticipation, making sure the members are prepared and do things right.
I played with you for 10 years and in my estimation you are the greatest route-runner and run blocker at the tight end position in pro football history. You are better than anyone in the league right now and the only reason you did not gain entry into the Hall of Fame sooner was that we never played for a championship team with the Lions. You had the moves of a wide receiver and an exceptional ability to play the ball in the air. If the pass was 6 feet high you could go up and get it and if it was 6 feet wide you could dive and make the play. You were willing to sacrifice your body as a receiver and blocker.
You had the blocking ability of an offensive tackle and were so tenacious that you could drive guys back who weighed 50 pounds more than you. You handled linebackers easily and safeties did not have a chance against you.
You were such an intense player that after chapel service was over and we had our pregame meal, I would not want to be around you. You would start snorting like a bull, getting fired up and we would feed off of your energy. Whether it was signal calling, making one-handed catches or blocking; you could do it all. You never gave up and were a phenomenal ball player.
Beyond just your on-field exploits, you are a tremendous father, husband and friend and I am happy that you are finally being enshrined in the Hall of Fame.