Advertisement

Archive for Sunday, August 3, 2008

Canton welcomes another class

K.C. great Emmitt Thomas one of six inducted into Hall of Fame

August 3, 2008

Advertisement

Art Monk, Washington Redskins; Darrell Green, Washington Redskins; Fred Dean, San Diego Chargers; Emmitt Thomas, Kansas City Chiefs; Andre Tippett, New England Patriots; and Gary Zimmerman, Denver Broncos

Art Monk, Washington Redskins; Darrell Green, Washington Redskins; Fred Dean, San Diego Chargers; Emmitt Thomas, Kansas City Chiefs; Andre Tippett, New England Patriots; and Gary Zimmerman, Denver Broncos

— The Hall of Fame induction ceremony turned Hog wild Saturday.

Darrell Green and Art Monk walked across the stage waving their arms and urged thousands of Washington Redskins fans to give them one more salute. Emmitt Thomas, the former Chiefs player and Redskins coach, simply waved back.

And they applauded the three other inductees without Washington ties - Fred Dean, Andre Tippett and Gary Zimmerman - because they understood they would have been a good fit with the Redskins' blue-collar players.

Most didn't shed a tear.

Green, as usual, was the exception.

"Deacon Jones said I was gonna cry. You bet I'm gonna cry," he said after his son, Jared, introduced him. "You bet you're life I'm gonna cry. You bet your life I will. That's my boy right there."

Clearly, this was Washington's showcase.

From the red-and-yellow clad crowd to the pig's snouts, the ceremony looked more like a team Hall of Fame induction than a league-wide enshrinement.

Fans cheered louder each time Thomas mentioned a Redskin. They chanted "Dar-rell, Dar-rell." Yes, it had everything but the band playing "Hail To The Redskins."

It was such a partisan crowd that Green's son even joked 95 percent of it was from Washington.

But the inductions were also marked by poignancy.

Dean, Tippett and Zimmerman all chose team owners as their introductory speakers. Green, Monk and Thomas each gave the honor to their sons. None was more moving than that by Derek Thomas, who suggested his dad finally let everyone know how good he was before breaking down as he tried to announce his dad's name.

"My dad always used to give me and my sister advice. Like most kids, we didn't always follow that advice," he said. "A piece of advice he gave me once was never make athletes your heroes because they make mistakes, too. I guess I didn't follow that advice very well. I'd like to introduce you to my hero, my mentor, my father, Emmitt Thomas."

Green recounted a story in which his two best childhood friends died before he started in the NFL, and then asked for a special recognition to two late teammates - Kevin Mitchell and Sean Taylor.

Thomas spoke of the hardship of growing up after his mother died when he was 8, and as a tribute to his grandfather asked the Hall of Fame to let him enter with the name Emmitt Earl Fyles Dean.

"My grandfather is still my hero. I remember those long, hot summer nights sitting on the porch listening to a game," he said. "He taught me about honor, commitment, love, religion and respect."

Then there were the comedy routines.

In the middle of Dean's deliberate, emphatic speech that had the tone of a church sermon, he told the crowd he forgot his glasses and couldn't read his speech. Another Hall of Famer responded quickly by handing them to Dean.

"That's gonna work, dog," Dean said drawing laughs.

Zimmerman talked about going from Minnesota to Denver, and learning of The Curse.

"It happens when you're protecting someone like John (Elway) and what happens is the night before the game you get little or no sleep," he said. "Because if you didn't do your job, you'll forever be known as the guy who lost our franchise. ... I would also like to thank John, it was worth every sleepless night."

Others reflected on how they learned the game and what helped them aspire to Hall of Fame careers.

Tippett, a fearsome pass rusher in the mold of Lawrence Taylor, talked about how he and his teammates at Iowa would pretend they played for the Pittsburgh Steelers in their black-and-gold uniforms. Tippett's choice was Dennis Winston.

"In my youth, I watched every game I could. I studied all the great players - Lambert, Ham, Bobby Bell and many others," he said. "Some kids play cops and robbers. I emulated you."

Comments

Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.