Bob Lilly Enshrinement speech

Bob Lilly Enshrinement Speech 1980

Presenter: Tom Landry

Honored guests, ladies and gentlemen. I realize that you don't recognize me, without my hat, but I am glad to be here today. One of the real pleasures of coaching is to be able to coach a great player, a blue chipper. That is why I am so privileged and honored to be here today to be the presenter because I have had the pleasure with Bob Lilly. It is not only an honor for me to be here, but it is also a special day for the Dallas Cowboys and all of our former players, for you see Bob played 14 seasons with the Dallas Cowboys from 1951 to 1964. He was the team’s first ever draft choice, the first all-pro selection, the first Pro Bowl player and is a charter member of our club's covenant ring of honor in Texas Stadium. Now he is the first player who has spent his entire career with Dallas to be elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility.

Back in 1972 I was commenting on Bob Lilly at an all sports banquet and I made this quote, “there won't be another Bob Lily in my time, you are observing a man who will become a legend.” I am still of the same opinion today because I watched too many game films of Bob Lilly in action. He spent a whole career waiting through two or three blockers to achieve his great record. His record is excellent. He was a mainstay of the “Dooms Day” man, he was selected for 11 pro bowls, and all NFL choice for six straight years from 1964 through 1969 and again in 1971 and 72. He played in 292 pro games included a cowboy record of 196 straight regular season contest. When you add 78 preseasons and another 18 in full season, you have a heck of a lot of games and he missed just one and that was in 1973 NFC title showdown against Minnesota when he had a bad hamstring injury.

He played five NFL and NFC championships in 1967 and 1972 and in Super Bowl V and VI. one of my lasting impressions that I have Bob Lilly was in Super Bowl V, when we fast the game to Baltimore and remember on the last play a field goal. Bob like his teammates had gone through several frustrating seasons of not being able to win the big one which is a terrible tag to have period when that field goal went through the goal post and his bitter disappointment, he almost threw his helmet out of the Orange Bowl. Well that demonstrated how much it hurt him to leave, and I knew right then that we had a great chance to win Super Bowl XI, which we did against Miami, 24-3. I am sure that that victory will rank as Bob's greatest Pro Football thrill as it did for many of us. He was born in a small town of Throckmorton, Texas, which is 150 miles northwest of Dallas, on July 26, 1939. His family moved to Panalton, Oregon before his senior year in high school which had to be a very traumatic experience for him, but he overcame it and he became all Oregon in football and basketball his senior year. He returned to Texas and attended Texas Christian University and played for coach Abe Martin, he called him the best tackle he ever coached.

Dallas did not participate in the 1969 draft, but Bob Lilly became our first draft pick in 1961. He won NFL rookie of the year honors in defensive end and next year he was first Pro Bowl selection. But in mid-1963, I made the best decision I ever made as a coach, I moved him from defensive end to defensive tackle where he blossomed into what I considered the best tackle in the NFL. I believe that most coaches will tell you that one of their greatest satisfactions is to see one of their players after retirement make a successful transition to 2nd career and make a possible contribution to their community. Well, Bob and his lovely wife, Anne and their children have done just that in their new home in Waco, Texas. Bob heads up his own company right now. He makes those great black and Decker commercials as well as multitude of civic activity. It is my pleasure to present to you not only a great professional football player but one of the finest persons that I have ever known, for his enshrinement into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Mr. Bob Lilly.

Bob Lilly

As we were riding in the great parade through Canton today prior to the ceremonies, it looked like we were going to have a downpour of rain. I looked over at coach Landry and I said “coach, so many times in the history of our practices you have called the rain off because you have a direct line upstairs and he called the rain off.”

I want to first in knowledge all my friends and my family who have come all the way from Texas, Oklahoma in various parts of the country to be with me. They have given much strength and much help in this very trying three days that we have had here trying because not only as a day to day routine that we have to go through, but because of the remanence and nostalgia that is involved. For I can sincerely tell the people who were responsible for Pro Football Hall of Fame how much and how wonderful these three days have been. It has been fabulous; it has been like a dream. It is something I don't think anyone would ever be able to understand unless they have been through it. I just want to tell coach Landry how much I appreciate the fact that he stayed up all night to fly in an airplane out here to introduce me today before you people, and the fact that he introduced me today, has a lot more meaning than you would think, because there were basically three men in my life. My father, coaching college, And Tom Landry. This is the tough part. My father died 10 years ago, my coach in college died a year ago. These were the three men who influenced me most in my life.

I would like to say hello to my mother who is in the hospital in my hometown. She had planned to be with us today. But was unable to. I would like to tell my brother and sister who are back with her, that I realized during the years that I grew up there were many times I got all the attention and I appreciate the fact that they were patient and that they did love me. I'm sorry, I just can't help it. Nitschke Told me it would happen I didn't believe him.

I'm going to get along to my pleasant subjects the Dallas Cowboys, the team that drafted me the coaches, the officers the staff, all the people behind the scenes. The teammates who were there to encourage me during the lean years, people were so helpful to me during my career. The people, the coaches, the organization, the teammates were the responsible for getting winners. There's no question that all of us up here today are up here basically for one reason that we belong to teams that were winners on those team of winners. And I think the cowboy organization for their belief and trust in me as I started in 1961.

My family I want to thank them because there have been many, many days that I have neglected them when I was trying to prepare for a National Football League game or championship game, yet they also became stronger and better people and I wish to thank them. I wish to thank the heritage of the NFL. The people who found it. The NFL, the people who played this game back in the years when he wasn't lucrative period to the people who worked so hard to make the NFL what it has become today. You know a lot of times you have a very dim beginning Anna very bright ending and I think that is what is happening in the NFL and that is the reason for the Hall of Fame in the Super Bowl and all the wonderful things that happen in Pro Football.

To the people here in Canton, the people who founded the Hall of Fame, the people who have been responsible for the progress and growth, the people who have put on the tremendous ceremonies and have done all the work, I wish to thank you for making it such a wonderful event for my family and myself period until the people camped in, Ohio we have been so gracious so hospitable to my family Anthony, I thank you. And you know, I guess to sum it up, I deserve just a small part of the award today because it took teamwork as it does in everything in the world, our country, our cities, our skates all work because of teamwork and because we have a country which allows us to freedom to choose our occupations and our professions and as people who had the foresight to do things that were tough when they had to be done. I certainly thank you for listening to me and bearing with me today. Thank you very much.