I’ve been at the Hall since the late 1980s. And, during that time I have seen our annual Enshrinement ceremony grow from a quaint ceremony held on the front steps to a spectacular, nationally-televised event in Fawcett Stadium.
While the induction now draws thousands of fans who travel from across the country and hundreds of media members who converge on Canton, the one aspect that has never changed is that the day is filled with emotion.
I have often been asked over the years what was the most memorable moment from an enshrinement that I can remember. I’ve had that question posed to me so many times I can quickly give the answer. But, not here right now. You’ll have to bear with me as I count down my top five moments. A Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement speech always includes a wide variety of reactions that range from tears to laughter and nearly every emotion in between.
So, over the next five days, I’ll count down the moments that I found to stand out among them all.
My No. 5 came in ’05 when a crowd of aqua and orange filled Fawcett’s stands as the NFL’s all-time leading passer in yards, touchdowns, completions, and attempts (at the time) was inducted. The enshrinement was drawing to a close when Dan Marino pulled a football out and fired one more “frozen rope” spiral to his receiver Mark Clayton. While Roger Staubach did a similar stunt at halftime of the Hall of Fame Game twenty years earlier, Marino’s was the first and only pass completion made in Hall of Fame Enshrinement history. I think making the pass even more impressive is he was unencumbered by his new Hall of Fame Gold Jacket. I’d be remiss not to give kudos to Clayton. Marino’s long-time receiver was caught totally off guard when his QB called him out in front of 22,000 fans and a national television audience as he sat in a seat 30 yards from the stage. Just like when they were on the football field, the Marino to Clayton connection was flawless.
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