For Pete's Sake

By: Pete Fierle

Pete Fierle, Manager - Digital Media/Communications
Pete's familiarity with the game's history is a result of spending two decades surrounded by the world's largest collection of pro football information. His many duties include overseeing the Hall's website as well as the day-to-day operation of the Ralph Wilson, Jr. Pro Football Research and Preservation Center.

No doubt about my No. 1

Aug 01, 2011

I’ve witnessed every Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement since joining the Hall’s staff in 1988. That equates to 120 speeches from the some of the greatest NFL legends. Obviously there are countless memorable moments that as a football fan I’ve thoroughly enjoyed. One common theme I’ve observed in this time is the passion that comes through the words that are delivered.

I never grow tired at seeing how humbled every person is when they’re bestowed their sport’s highest honor. A question posed to me so many times is “what is your most memorable one?” At first I used to struggle to come up with that answer but having had time to really think about it, there’s no question what ranks as the most compelling moment in a Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement.

There was Jack Lambert’s “if I could start my life all over again, I would be a professional football player, and you damn well better believe I would be a Pittsburgh Steeler.”

There was 2002, the first year that the induction was moved from the front steps back to Fawcett Stadium. The place was packed with Buffalo Bills fans who for hours chanted “Let’s Go Buff-a-lo” as they waited for Jim Kelly to be enshrined.

Two years later, Fawcett was jammed with Orange as fans travelled from the Rocky Mountains to see John Elway become the first long-time Bronco inducted.

I could go on and on but over the past several days I’ve shared my personal favorites. Remember, my list is favorite “moments” not favorite “speeches.” Of all that I have seen in the previous 23 years, there is nothing in my mind that compares to what happened in 2008.

Art Monk finally received his due as one of the game’s greatest after having come close to election so many times. Perhaps it was the worth the wait.

Monk stepped to the podium as the last enshrinee that night. I was standing in the stage right green room just about 20 feet from him. A thunderous ovation greeted Monk after he was introduced. As the crowd, nearly all clad in burgundy and gold, quieted, Monk stepped to the microphone to begin his speech. Within an instant the crowd exploded again.

It wasn’t long before the tingling feeling that struck me told me that something special was happening. Monk tried and tried again to start his speech but each time the Washington Redskins fans drowned him out. After about two minutes, there was a buzz all around the stage as everyone was inquiring had something like this ever happened before. The phone from the press box rang as my staff was being bombarded by media wondering the same thing.

For a sports fan, I can’t think of anything more dramatic or exciting than a lengthy standing ovation. So, the more than five-minute ovation that Monk received that evening ranks as the most memorable moment of any Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement I’ve witnessed.

Check out this video that starts about a minute after he is announced to the fans in attendance.

Click here to watch>>>

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