Shortly after the Class of 2016 was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame and introduced on the NFL Honors show last night, they held a press conference to talk about their legacy and newest honor.
Here are some quotes from what some of the members of the newest class had to say.
(on what being inducted into the Hall of Fame means to him) “First of all, I’m still in a state of shock. It means a culmination of a lifetime of blood, sweat, tears, love for a city, love for players, relationships with media – some good some bad (laughing), we had our times. It means so much because anybody that you ever, like Tony (Dungy) said just think about it, to be in Canton with these icons for what you’ve tried to do with your life in the great sport of football is just beyond comprehension. I’m honored and humbled and I don’t even know what more I can say.”
(on what it’s like being back in the Bay Area for this honor) “It’s just unbelievable. It’s almost like the script was written, having Super Bowl 50 here in the Bay Area after all these years that we battled and played here is something that I don’t know if anybody could ever write a better script. I’ve spent so much time with all the guys, not just this week, but in past weeks, talking and getting together with them. It’s just a dream come true, I guess, if it’s going to happen and I’m lucky enough to be with this elite group here and with these icons in Canton, no better place to do it than where it all started.”
(on who will be presenting him) “Actually, I think my oldest daughter Lisa is going to.”
(on what went into this journey and his emotions right now) “It’s pretty hard to believe 20 years ago we lost our first five games. It didn’t look like we were headed in this direction at all. Just some great, wonderful people and great players and such tremendous support from (Rich) McKay and a bunch of guys who are in the Hall of Fame and are going to be in the Hall of Fame. Just very, very emotional for me. I came into the league in 1977. At that time, there were seven or eight African-American assistant coaches in the entire league, so it wasn’t a situation where you had a lot of role models. I had a lot of people who believed in me, and I’m very, very proud to represent those men.”
(on the experience of ending his career with the Indianapolis Colts) “It was a tremendous honor in my life and some great people, and I really have to look at the Lord just kind of guiding me there. I got fired in Tampa, and you don’t know what’s going to happen and where you’re going to go, if you’re going to go anywhere. I have to thank my boss whose right there in the second row, Jim Irsay. (He) gave me a call, left a message on my answering machine and he said, ‘We want to build a team the right way in Indianapolis. We want to connect with our fans. We want to have a team that represents our city well.’ He didn’t talk about championships or any of that – he just talked about how he wanted to do it, and he said, ‘You’re the man I want to lead this.’ I got there and had that tremendous support from him, from Bill (Polian), and there were some tremendous players there. It was just the spirit of comradery, working together, and he set the tone, and I just thank him for choosing me and wanting me to be part of it. It was a special, special seven years.”
(on his thoughts looking back at his time with the Minnesota Vikings, and if there was ever a point he thought he didn’t execute enough) “I would say going to Minnesota was special for me. Denny Green called me in 1992 – he had just got the job there. Denny was my special teams coach in San Francisco, so he knew me. He wanted me to run the defense, and we had some greatness, Chris Doleman, who is in the Hall of Fame, John Randall – just some perfect guys for what I wanted to do. But more than anything Denny said, ‘Hey, I’m going to show you how to be a head coach and what goes into it.’ He mentored me, taught me and showed me the ropes. So yes, I got to get a reputation, but more than anything, he showed me things, and I have to say this, when I got the job in Tampa – we’re in the same division, we’re competing against them, and I would call Denny and say, ‘Oh, it’s a Monday night schedule, how do we do that?’, and he would tell me because he wanted me to be successful, and that’s the type of guys you grew in the 49ers organization.”
(opening statement) “It’s an incredible feeling. It really is. I’m well aware of my career and what I’ve done, but it never … I don’t know how to put this. I’ve accepted it for what it is, but Roger Staubach comes up on stage and I still get goosebumps. That’s my childhood hero. Dallas Cowboys were my team. Last night in the hotel, Ed ‘Too Tall’ Jones comes up and says hello, and I’m like, ‘He’s actually talking to me?’ That’s how I feel, and I guess what I’m saying is that I’m extremely thankful that I’m part of the group, but I don’t necessarily feel like part of the group, and I mean that with the utmost respect.”
(on what his favorite memory was) “I don’t know if I can pick one. I look at the whole as a memory. Of course I’ve been asked that question so much in the last year or two – favorite play, favorite game, most memorable moment – and it’s impossible. It’s impossible to pick one. As soon as I pick one, I think of many others.”
(on what this past year has been like) “Of course, this past summer for the people who were not there, you can’t really appreciate what that was like. To walk out on the field in July to 70,000, and there’s not a game after. The last time I had to walk out on that field was a little different response as a Viking, no offense to my two Viking buddies over here, but it was special. It really was. If there was any doubt whatsoever, that was quickly wiped away. Right after that I had the Mississippi Hall of Fame, and then back in November, back for the jersey retirement, of course Bart Starr being part of that, which was my ultimate goal to be able to do something with him, and that happened. It’s really been … the last eight, nine, ten months have really been awesome.”
(on how much his humble start drove him throughout his career) “Yeah, absolutely, being a fifth-round draft choice and the first player picked in the fifth round of the 1985 (draft), I had to pay my dues. For the first three years, I had to run down kickoff team, punt team, punt-return team, kickoff-return team and all that stuff, so I did it all. But I was begging for an opportunity, and I thank the head coach, John Robinson. At the time, he threatened to send my butt back to Alabama before I came into his office and asked for more playing time. I just kept knocking on the door and Fritz Shurmur, our defensive coordinator, saw something in me and put together a defense for me actually called ‘Eagle defense’. In 1988, my first year as a starter, I was able to be productive in that defense, so I paid my dues at that time and seasoned a little bit and was really chomping at the bit to go, so yes, it definitely helped me.”
(on his career starting in Los Angeles and the NFL returning there and his last team, the Carolina Panthers, currently in the Super Bowl in another city in which he played, and if all these events are tied up in a nice bow for him) “Yeah, it does. I’m a Carolina Panther fan, a Pittsburgh Steeler fan, a L.A. Ram fan, a San Francisco fan … everybody paid the bills (laughter). I’m just a big fan of Mr. (Jerry) Richardson and Mrs. Rosalind Richardson, and they are just classy, classy people who have a wonderful organization there in Carolina. I was truly blessed to be a part of that organization.”
(on playing left tackle) “Well, you know what? It came part of the offense. I know when those guys are running down the field (for) 60-, 70-yard touchdowns, I was a part of that. I think our coach at the time, he went a little bit overboard. I liked to run the ball every once in a while as well. It really honed my skill set down – pass blocking, (protecting) the ball and everything. We had a lot of talent there in St. Louis (with) Kurt Warner and those guys. It made my job personal, but it was fun.”
Justin Moyes (grandson) on behalf of the late Ken Stabler
(on Ken Stabler) “My grandfather, he was just a really good man. I never saw him turn down an autograph. He was just special. He loved football, and that was life for him. He loved watching us play, came to every single one of our games, and we we were super lucky to have him in our lives.”
Jack Moyes (grandson) on behalf of the late Ken Stabler
(on Ken Stabler) “He was just the ideal man. He just respected everyone, (he) just had so much love for everyone, and it’s true when he says he didn’t turn down an autograph for anyone. He was just my role model, my ideal man who I looked up to in life.”
Rich Stanfel (son) on behalf of the late Dick Stanfel
(on what does he think his dad is thinking right now, and what does this mean for the Stanfel family) “Well first of all, I just happened to see him in memory when the picture flashed up. It was very … for a moment, I paused and thought about dad and it’s been … it’s bittersweet that he’s not here, but that’s the way dad was. He was sort of a lunch-box kind of guy, (he) went to work hard every day whether he was playing or coaching, and he just did things the right way. When he didn’t make it in 2012, he paused. I frankly was more devastated than he was for a moment. But he paused and said, ‘Well, what are we doing for dinner?’, and life went on. That was dad. What’s truly great is that he’s a native son of San Francisco, he was born and raised here with family, I have family here, and it’s just really bittersweet and special, and truly, the third time was the charm. We’re ecstatic, my brother Scott, my brother John and myself got to live the dream through my father and truly blessed that you know he had a short NFL career, but he went forward with 37 years in the coaching field. I told people, we … coaching, and we all know that that’s not for long, but at least that’s what we were told because we sort of … dad always had us, we thought there wasn’t going to be a meal next week. That’s the way we lived, and that’s how he lived. But he had 37 straight years of coaching after his playing career, and it was pretty special. His whole life was the NFL, and we’re really special to be honored this way. Thank you.”
Tickets to the Enshrinement Weekend events are available at ProFootballHOF.com/tickets and by calling 844-4-HOFTIX. Tickets to the Concert for Legends, featuring music icon Tim McGraw, are on sale now. Tickets to the Enshrinement Ceremony and NFL/Hall of Fame Game go on sale Saturday, February 13 at 10 am.
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