CANTON, Ohio — Cowboys fans seem to be the dominant force in the stands at Fawcett Stadium.
They’ve cheered for everything that moves on the field in a Cowboys’ uniform during pregame warmups. Some of their biggest ovations, though, were for the man who emerged from the locker room under the bleachers in the south end zone wearing the dark blue sport coat, gray pants and sunglasses: team owner and general manager Jerry Jones.
He commanded rock-star status, with the Cowboy faithful chanting, “Jer-ree! Jer-ree!” and begging him to pose for pictures and sign autographs. He signed a few, but kept most of his focus on his players on the field.
A member of the Hall of Fame security staff just introduced himself as the man who will be in charge of escorting Jones to his booth in the press box after warmups.
CANTON, Ohio — Adam Jones‘ first game with the Cincinnati Bengals is going to be as a starter.
He’ll be at left cornerback in place of Johnathan Joseph, who has been scratched from the lineup for Sunday’s preseason opener against the Cowboys because of a bruised quadricep.
Wide receiver Terrell Owens also will debut as a starter in place of Antonio Bryant, who is out with a knee injury.
CANTON, Ohio — Dez Bryant was getting around well in a walking boot on his right foot and believes his high ankle sprain is healing ahead of schedule.
I asked the Cowboys rookie receiver if he’s still thinking there are three to four weeks left in the recovery.
“There’s no telling for sure,” Bryant said, “but I think it might even be sooner than that. It’s coming along pretty good.”
The Cowboys obviously will be careful with their first-round draft pick. Bryant caught hundreds of passes during warm-ups for the Hall of Fame game, stretching to work on back of the end-zone receptions near the sidelines. He moved all over the field and shouted to teammates several times how much he wanted to play tonight against the Bengals.
Bryant suffered the ankle injury early in camp, with a four to six week recovery period projected by the Cowboys, putting his readiness for Week 1 in doubt.
— Jason La Canfora
CANTON, Ohio — Driving down one of the main roads leading to Fawcett Stadium, you find yourself wondering for a moment if this were something larger than a mere preseason-opener.
Hundreds of fans wearing Cowboys and Bengals jerseys were walking up and down the road, shouting their loyalty for their respective teams. One Cowboy fan drew some extra stares for finishing off his blue-and-white, star-covered ensemble with star-shaped glasses.
People with homes lining the streets surrounding the stadium seem to be capitalizing by charging upwards of $20 to allow cars to be parked on their lawns.
CANTON, Ohio – A crowd of 19,300 filled Fawcett Stadium Saturday night for the enshrinement of the Class of 2010 into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. You can watch all seven induction speeches on NFL.com. In the meantime, here are key quotes from all seven speeches:
Dick LeBeau (after relating story of being introduced to a crowd by President Obama): “When I got back home that night, I thought, you know, this might be the highest deal of my life. President Obama is singling me out, getting me some applause in his speech. I thought there certainly can’t be anything greater than this. But in all due respect, Mr. President, this whole business is a little bit bigger, I can tell you that.”
John Randle: “Wow. Well, it’s too late, they can’t take it back now. I’m here; I’m in.”
Russ Grimm: “Growing up, I dreamed of playing college football. In college, I dreamed of playing professional football. When I was in the NFL, I dreamed of winning Super Bowls. I dreamed of winning championships. But I never dreamed that I’d be standing here today.”
Rickey Jackson: “I think right now the National Football League needs to get together and make sure that we keep the game what it is today. Don’t let it get away because we have a great product. When you got a great product, you need to keep it going. Hard to keep stuff going in America. When you got something good, try to do the right thing with it so you keep it going.”
Jerry Rice: “People are always surprised how insecure I was. I love it when some commentary would refer to an upstart receiver as the next Jerry Rice. That made me work even harder. It was as if I was saying, ‘You’re going to have to work so hard to get to where I am, and if you can pay that price, you deserve it.’”
Floyd Little: “There’s no words to describe the joy of experiencing this final sports chapter in my life. This is obviously the highest honor any football player can garner. I stand here today celebrating my athletic life journey, and I understand its significance. Everything else pales in comparison.”
Emmitt Smith (addressing former Dallas fullback Daryl Johnston after asking him to stand): “You mean the world to me. Not just because we shared the same backfield, but because you sacrificed so much… The sacrifices you made, not simply your body but your whole spirit. You took care of me as though you were taking care of your little brother. Without you I know today would not have been possible. You sacrificed so much. I love you Daryl from the bottom of my heart.”
— Craig Ellenport
CANTON, OHIO — The fans had waited for it, and the Cowboys fans gave Emmitt Smith a thunderous ovation when he gave his induction speech. And those flash bulbs in the crowd never seemed to dim, constantly flashing brightly for the entire speech.
Of course, he got another huge cheer when he referenced America’s team. Honestly, this crowd had been waiting to really pop all night, and the fans took advantage.
And if we ever need any confirmation, the Cowboys fans still love Jimmy Johnson, as his name drew a big cheer. Too bad there was not a camera on Jerry Jones at this point.
Smith’s biggest theme was that he could not do it alone. Smith called out Troy Aikman and Michael Irvin, asking them to stand. Smith said that you cannot have one without the other. And after that the partisan crowd started the familiar refrain of “Moooooose,” Smith asked Daryl Johnston to stand.
With tears rolling down his cheek, Smith told Johnston, “You mean the world to me. Not just because we shared the same backfield, but because you sacrificed so much for me. People don’t understand what it took to be a fullback in our system, the sacrifices you made, not simply your body but your whole spirit.
“You took care of me as though you were taking care of your little brother. Without you, I know today would not have been possible. You sacrificed so much. I love you Daryl from the bottom of my heart.”
And you have to wonder if a guy like Johnston would ever get Hall of Fame consideration considering what he did for the Cowboys offense. Probably not, but Johnston got a proper acknowledgment in Canton.
In the end, the heavy Cowboys crowd demanded a great performance from Smith. And like he always did during his playing days, Smith delivered.
— Adam Rank
CANTON, OHIO — Floyd Little waited seemingly forever to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, and then he is slotted in between Jerry Rice and Emmitt Smith. That just does not seem right.
To use a concert analogy, Rice might as well have yelled, “Here’s a song off our new album,” as the crowd moved en mass to the restroom after the receiver’s speech.
Little’s speech could be the equivalent of being the song the Black Crowes play between “She Talks to Angels” and “Remedy.”
One guy in the press box quipped that he was the Zamboni between periods.
But the Little family really delivered the goods. Gil Brandt remarked that this has been a tremendous group of presenters, but Marc Little might have been the best.
Little took some time to thank all of those who helped get him inducted, including Jim Gray. Funny, that name did not draw any sort of reaction from the Ohio crowd, consider Gray was a part of LeBron James “The Decision.” Maybe it was a good thing everybody was in the restroom.
— Adam Rank
Posted: August 7th, 2010 | Craig Ellenport | Tags:
CANTON, Ohio – Okay, I believe we’ve had another first in the history of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement ceremony: The first time an inductee thanked his “Dancing With the Stars” team.
Of course, the Class of 2010 includes not one but two former DWTS alumni – Jerry Rice and Emmitt Smith. So it was perhaps just a matter of the order in which the class was inducted that allowed Rice to capture the honor. Not sure if Smith will mention the show, but Rice acknowledged the experience proudly.
“All I had to do was wear sequins, afro wig and high heels,” he said.
Crazy as it seems, “Dancing With the Stars” has developed quite a roster. The show now boasts two Hall of Famers in Rice and Smith, fellow DWTS alum Warren Sapp certainly has a chance to join them. Chad Ochocinco can get into the mix if he has a few more big years. And now there are rumors that surefire future Hall of Famer Kurt Warner could be on the show next season.
And as he walked off the stage, Rice added: “You know what, guys? I feel like dancing.”
— Craig Ellenport
CANTON, OHIO — The rivalry between the Cowboys and 49ers was the highlight of the NFL in the 1990s. But there was a respect there. You can feel it between the fans of the teams here in Canton, and it was addressed by Jerry Rice during his Hall of Fame speech.
“If not for you, Emmitt, and the Dallas Cowboys, there would be three more Super Bowl rings on my fingers,” Rice said to a great response to the partisan fans.
“Rivalries are great for the NFL, and it’s fitting that the 49ers and Cowboys are represented here today. We definitely made each other better.”
Not to spoil a great line, but it bears noting that the Packers knocked the 49ers out of the playoffs in 1995. But the Cowboys cost them at least two rings.
Of course, it will be interesting to see if Smith returns the volley by noting that the 49ers kept the Cowboys from winning four consecutive Super Bowls.
— Adam Rank
CANTON, OHIO — Rickey Jackson brought a little “ring-a-ding-ding” to the Pro Football Hall of Fame ceremonies by rocking a fedora. With plenty of style.
Jackson opened his speech talking about his hometown Pahokee, Fla. There was a sign outside of Pahokee that said, “The home of Mel Tillis.” (Incidentally, Tillis was a co-star in the Cannonball Run along with Hall of Fame QB Terry Bradshaw.) Jackson said that he was able to resist temptation because he wanted to get on that sign.
And then Jackson’s speech really became interesting.
Jackson talked fondly of Saints owner Tom Benson, saying that if the Saints win a Super Bowl this season Benson should be in the Hall of Fame. Jackson also said that Benson should be given credit for keeping the Saints in New Orleans, when a lot of other owners have snuck teams out of town in the middle of the night.
A sentiment that no doubt is popular in Cleveland.
Jackson said that with all that has happened to New Orleans, with Hurricane Katrina and the oil spill, moving the Saints would have been “10 times worse.”
Jackson said that you should take your hat off to him, while of course, not removing his own hat. He must have meant figuratively. But we should all take our hats off to Jackson for a wildly entertaining speech and a career that landed him in Canton.
— Adam Rank
CANTON, OHIO — It is not just Cowboys and 49ers fans who flocked to the Hall of Fame. The famed dress-wearing fans of the Redskins are here to welcome in former Hogs great Russ Grimm.
Grimm, who earned respect by quoting Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Free Bird” in his speech, talked about the great Redskins fans. Grimm talked about how the fans chanted “We want Dallas” prior to the 1982 NFC Championship Game and threw seat cushions years later in a game against the Falcons. He said that playing for the Redskins fans made it fun.
And by my biased count, the Hogettes seemed to be having the most fun of any fans — including the Cowboys — posing for pictures.
— Adam Rank
CANTON, Ohio — As Russ Grimm takes to the podium to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, his son Cody is in the stands here at Fawcett Stadium to be a part of it. Cody arrived in Canton on Saturday morning, leaving Tampa Bay Buccaneers training camp, where he is an undrafted rookie fighting for a roster spot.
Russ told his son he should feel free to stay in camp if he felt the need to keep up with other rookies. It was a game-time decision, so to speak, but Cody made the trip. Cody will return to Bucs camp in the morning. Follow his journey here.