Former Redskins hog the spotlight at Hall ceremony
CANTON, Ohio -- 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, a 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 your life I’m gonna cry. You bet your life I will. That’s my boy, that’s my boy right there.”
Clearly, this was Washington’s showcase. From the red-and-yellow-clad crowd to the pig’s snouts to the responses whenever the Dallas Cowboys were mentioned, the ceremony looked more like a team Hall of Fame induction than a league-wide enshrinement.
Fans cheered louder each time Thomas mentioned a Redskins player or coach. They chanted “Dar-rell, Dar-rell.”
It had everything but the band playing “Hail to the Redskins.”
It was such a partisan crowd that Green’s son joked 95% of it was from Washington.
But the inductions were also marked by poignancy.
Dean, Tippett and Zimmerman chose team owners as their introductory speakers. Green, Monk and Thomas gave that 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 he asked the Hall of Fame to let him enter with the name Emmitt Earl Fyles Dean.
Then there were the comedy routines.
In the middle of Dean’s deliberate, emphatic speech, 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.
“I think that’s gonna work, dog,” Dean said, drawing laughter.
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.”
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The six players inducted Saturday into the Pro Football Hall of Fame:
1975-81 San Diego Chargers, 1981-85 San Francisco 49ers
Born Feb. 24, 1952, in Arcadia, La. . . . Selected in the second round in 1975 draft by Chargers. . . . Played linebacker in college. . . . Quickness, speed, strength made him a feared pass rusher. . . . Sack total near 100, but unofficial since sacks were not an official NFL statistic until 1982. . . . Career-best 17.5 sacks in 1983. . . . Selected All-Pro in 1980 and 1981, All-AFC twice, All-NFC twice. . . . Selected to four Pro Bowls.
1983-2002 Washington Redskins
Born Feb. 15, 1960, in Houston, Texas. . . . First-round pick by Washington, 28th overall, 1983. . . . Intercepted pass in NFL-record 19 seasons in a row. . . . Known for great speed. . . . Intercepted 54 passes for 621 yards, six touchdowns. . . . Also returned 51 punts for 611 yards. . . . Holds team record for longest fumble return, 78 yards. . . . Selected to the NFL’s All-Decade team of the 1990s. . . . Selected to seven Pro Bowl games. . . . Selected All-Pro in 1986, 1987, 1990 and 1991.
1980-93 Washington Redskins, 1994 New York Jets, 1995 Philadelphia Eagles
Born Dec. 5, 1957, in White Plains, N.Y. . . . First-round pick by Washington, 1980 NFL draft. . . . Caught 58 passes to earn All-Rookie honors, 1980. . . . Had 50 or more receptions, nine seasons. . . . Gained 1,000 yards five times. . . . Set then-NFL records for catches in a season (106), most consecutive games with at least one reception (164), and career receptions (820). . . . Finished career with 940 catches. . . . Selected to three Pro Bowl games. . . . All-Pro twice.
1966-78 Kansas City Chiefs
Born June 3, 1943, in Angleton, Texas. . . . Joined Chiefs as undrafted free agent, 1966. . . . Amassed club-record 58 interceptions. . . . Career interception total ranks fourth all-time by pure cornerbacks. . . . Led AFL with nine interceptions, 1969. . . . Recorded three more interceptions during 1969 playoffs, including one in Super Bowl IV victory. . . . Had 12 interceptions, two shy of NFL record, 1974. . . . Selected to five Pro Bowl games. . . . All-AFL/AFC five times. . . . First- or second-team All-NFL 1971, 1974 and 1975.
1982-93 New England Patriots
Born Dec. 27, 1959, in Birmingham, Ala. . . . Patriots’ second-round pick, 1982. . . . Established team-record 18.5 sacks, 1984. . . . Led AFC with 16.5 sacks, selected AFC defensive player of the year during Patriots Super Bowl season, 1985. . . . Recorded AFC-leading 12.5 sacks in 1987. . . . At time of retirement, held team marks for career sacks, sacks in a season, opponent fumbles recovered. . . . Five consecutive Pro Bowl games. . . . Selected to the NFL’s All-Decade team of the 1980s.
1986-92 Minnesota Vikings, 1993-97 Denver Broncos
Born Dec. 13, 1961, in Fullerton. . . . Third overall pick, 1984 NFL supplemental draft by New York Giants. . . . Had streak of 169 consecutive starts. . . . Anchored offensive line that helped Vikings lead NFC in rushing, 1991. . . . With Zimmerman blocking, Broncos led AFC in combined yards, 1995, and NFL in 1996, 1997. . . . Selected to two NFL All-Decade teams, 1980s and 1990s. . . . First- or second-team All-Pro honors eight times. . . . Seven Pro Bowl games.
Source: Pro Football Hall of Fame