When you hear that twenty retired punters are making the pilgrimage to Canton to see Ray Guy being inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame, you know that you are in for some serious speechifying.
First ballot guys like Derrick Brooks and Walter Jones haven’t had much time to practice putting on their best faces, sliding on a gold jacket and thanking everyone who has helped them in life. For players like Andre Reed, Claude Humphrey and Ray Guy, it’s long overdue recognition for great careers that helped shape football. Aeneas Williams is the grinder, the unsung hero that makes the Hall ever year, inspiring all the other grinders in the league, the ones who may never win a Super Bowl or even be on a great team, but they the fight to play every game for decades.
And Michael Strahan? I don’t think there is a player out there more ready to take to the podium and speak. (As an aside, Strahan broke up with his fiancee yesterday, so be ready with extra Kleenex in case it gets weepy around the stage. You can’t pass-rush heartbreak.)
The speech I’m looking forward to? Andre Reed. Reed has been a little outspoken about current league issues in recent weeks and it’s been a refreshing change for an NFL elder statesman, a group usually herded around for ceremonial coin flips and golf outings, seen by generally not heard. While I am sure he is well-rehearsed going into this afternoon, I hoping we see some spark of the fiery personality we forgot filled our televisions in the 1990s when he takes the stage.