I had the distinct privilege of attending the Pro Football Hall of Fame ceremonies this weekend in Canton, Ohio and what a class of inductees. Richard Dent, Deion Sanders, Shannon Sharpe, Marshall Faulk are names you recognize but the others, Ed Sabol (NFL Films), Chris Hanburger (Washington Redskins) and Les Richter (Los Angeles Rams) deserve their admission as well.
But the irony as I sat there was that it dawned upon me that no University of Cincinnati player is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. In basketball we have Oscar Robertson; baseball Sandy Koufax and in tennis Tony Trabert. But with all the players that have graced the Bearcat gridiron and gone on to play at the elite level, none are in the hall.
As this program continues to gain traction and appeal nationwide the odds are increasing that it could happen in the next 15-20 years. That means someone from the most recent NFL pool starts to play lights out and positions themselves for consideration or the crop of players here now or, who are coming in the near future will be the first. What a unique and hallowed accomplishment to go into the Hall of Fame and be the first one from UC to do so. You will (Insert NFL Film voice) live in immortality. An accomplishment of this nature is the result of a combination of factors including avoiding the serious injury bug (Gayle Sayers is the exception to the rule), playing on great teams, with great players and in big games. Winning a Super Bowl certainly doesn't hurt either.
As I listened to speech after speech I was reminded of how critical the role of family and mom and/or grandmother are. Teaching work ethic, not slacking; encouraging not demeaning and supporting not withdrawing are great tools in addition to demanding academic excellence. Add brothers and sisters holding down the home front while you hone your skills and having someone give you that one break that typically tips the scale. It was amazing to hear how one key incident made the difference between Shannon Sharpe not getting cut or Richard Dent getting into college. From there they say the rest is history; so their they are careers,
One of the best things about trying to predict who may be the first UC player to enter the hall is that you can't. Shannon Sharpe thought it would be his brother Sterling and many of us thought it would be Kenny Anderson or Ken Riley preceding Anthony Munoz. The fact is you just don't know. That is also the joy of watching the game and seeing the emergence of a 6th round pick like Terrell Davis of the Denver Broncos build on his legacy and culminate it with a Super Bowl win as a seal the deal moment.
I look forward to going back to Canton one day to watch certain players step to the podium and delivering speeches like Shannon Sharpe, or Michael Irvin, or Floyd Little. Also to see their families beaming with pride at this pinnacle moment and to watch the eyes of youngsters dreaming that one day they'll be doing the same thing is a real treat. It is worth the price of admission and one of the best teaching tools a parent can share with a kid about commitment and sacrifice listening to the players chronicle their journey. The ride home gives you time to talk, share and reemphasize what it takes to succeed.
So plan a trip to the Pro Football Hall of Fame and who knows you could be there when UC's first player takes center stage and delivers a memorable speech during a memorable moment. The moment will mean even more if you share it with a youngster in your family.
That's the way I see it, sitting in The Box Seat...