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(Virginia)...6'2'', 248...Henry Wendell Jordan. . .Cleveland fifth-round draft pick, 1957. . .Traded to Packers for fourth-round pick, 1959. . . Became 11-year fixture at right defensive tackle. . .Quick, smart defender, specialized in pressuring quarterback. . .All-NFL six times. . . Played in four Pro Bowls, seven NFL title games, Super Bowls I, II. . .Missed only two games first 12 seasons . . . Born January 26, 1935, in Emporia, Virginia. . . Died February 21, 1977, at age of 42.
Henry Jordan was the fifth player to be elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame from the outstanding Green Bay defensive unit that helped to make the Packers the scourge of the National Football League during the 1960s. Jordan's defensive linemate Willie Davis, linebacker Ray Nitschke, cornerback Herb Adderley and safety Willie Wood are the defensive stalwarts who preceded the 6-2, 248-pound defensive tackle into the Hall.
A three-sport star at the University of Virginia where he captained the football team as a senior and was a runner-up in the heavyweight class of the 1957 NCAA wrestling championships, Jordan began his pro football career as a fifth-round draft pick of the 1957 Cleveland Browns.
Henry quickly assured himself a spot on the roster as a hard-hitting defensive tackle for a team that grabbed the 1957 NFL Eastern division title and tied for the division crown a year later. But before the 1959 season, Cleveland sent him to the Packers for a fourth-round draft choice.
Jordan's acquisition proved to be a key element in coach Vince Lombardi's ambitious building program. For the next decade, Jordan, who was born in Emporia, Virginia, on January 26, 1935, was a fixture at defensive right tackle as Green Bay won six divisional titles, five NFL championships and the first two Super Bowls. Jordan, known as a quick, smart defender, specialized in pressuring the passer.
He won All-NFL acclaim five times in 1960, 1961,1962, 1963, and 1964, and also played in four Pro Bowls, seven NFL title games and Super Bowls I and II. He was named the Outstanding Lineman in the 1962 Pro Bowl classic. Extremely durable, he missed only two games in his first 12 seasons before his final 1969 campaign, when injuries limited his playing time to just five games.
Full Name: Henry Wendell Jordan
Birthdate: January 26, 1935
Birthplace: Emporia, Virginia
Died: February 21, 1977
High School: Emporia (VA), Warwick (New Port News, Va.)
Elected to Pro Football Hall of Fame: January 28, 1995
Enshrined into Pro Football Hall of Fame: July 29, 1995
Presenter: Don Kovach, Long-time friend (Enshrined posthumously. Represented by son, Henry Jordan, Jr.)
Other Members of Class of 1995: Jim Finks, Steve Largent, Lee Roy Selmon, Kellen Winslow
Pro Career: 13 seasons, 163 games
Drafted: 5th round (52nd player overall) in 1957 by Cleveland Browns
Uniform Number: 74, (72)
Henry Jordan Enshrinement Speech 1995
Presenter: Don Kovach
Thank you, Jim. I'd like to briefly thank the Hall of Fame and citizens of Canton for their very gracious hospitality. On behalf of Betty and I, I want to say that it's something that will live in our memories forever. This has been a great time. Thank you very much.
This morning I am going to talk about Henry as a person. Obviously, his abilities on the football field speak for themselves or he wouldn't be here today. But perhaps hearing from his best friend you may get some feel as why his induction today is so special. Henry and I first met in 1953 when we were members of the University of Virginia freshman football team. We had much in common like a healthy interest in the fairer sex whom we found were willfully lacking on the university grounds, it not being coed at the time. So as soon as possible, being healthy young men, we set upon for the city of Charlottesville with another team member Bob Gunderman to the local girls. But we weren't successful, at least not immediately. Henry looked much older than his eighteen years at the time, already going bald. He was a daunting figure. Bob an opposing 6'4", had a pension for cigars and I tried to mimic with success I believe, a tough guy accentuating my Jersey accent. With good reason the local populace referred to us as the gruesome threesome. One young lady, however, was not daunted by our collective size or differences. One evening at a community dance canteen, Olive Sargent a transplanted New Yorker .ram the heart of Manhattan, readily accepted our dance invitations. She danced very well, even with me. But apparently, she danced better with Henry because they were eventually married. And were a perfect match. Olive is responsible for selecting me today to present Henry for enshrinement. Consider the number of Henry's teammates that occupy a place on honor inside the building behind me. Not the least of whom is Bart Starr, Henry's roommate when Green Bay was on the road. Olive has paid me the honor of honors in acknowledging our friendship in this manner and I'd like to thank you very much Olive.
Of all of Henry's accomplishments, perhaps he was most proud of his Virginia heritage. Particularly his family's history of working the land in and about the farm country of Emporia. He enjoyed his daddy's stories of his days as a mule skinner, and his work with the C & 0 Railroad, and that his brothers-built ships in the Newport News yards where he once worked himself. He was fond of sharing with his friends his mother's biscuits, buttered beans, and southern fried chicken and the hospitality of the Jordan home. Something I accepted, I feared, much more than it was offered. What Henry cherished most about life was people and their differences. An example of that was something specially shared with me while we were in college. For reasons unknown to his classmates and fraternity brothers, he would often vanish from the university scene on a Saturday evening. This would occur even on those nights when something important was happening on campus. On one occasion he asked me if I wanted to join him, as he put it, in the country. So, we journeyed together to some remote grange hall in the fertile Shenandoah Valley where I learned to square dance, long before it was the thing to do. It was here that Henry was at home with country folk, who's work ethic and moral values were his very essence. He loved to dance as much as Olive. His natural athletic abilities were evident in his legendary moves on the dance floor. It seemed like every inch of his body was in rhythm with the music. It was his way of communicating with the folks around him. A way of sharing his joy. His upbeat attitude was infectious to all who came in contact with him, including his football teammates. You knew he was enjoying life, even in difficult circumstances.
I knew early on that Henry would carry that philosophy to his professional football career. We were together when he witnessed his first professional game in old Griffith stadium in Washington D.C. During the Redskins' game he commented on the beauty of the sport. Knowing it was a game of physical strength to be sure, requiring the utmost of conditioning, comparing it to a dance performance choreographed by plays previously designed and directed by coaching. At that time as a young college player, Henry was determined to try professional football. He felt that he could do it well. This occasion proves that he was so right.
The manner in which he achieved the immortality that he obtains today was singularly distinctive. He was small for a defensive tackle and although well-conditioned and naturally strong it was largely his mental agility that brought him fame. He would delight in describing, what he called, his little bag of tricks. Those were his exclusive moves designed to befuddle and bewilder the much larger offensive linemen that he faced weekly. He related how he would concentrate on his opponents’ tendencies and depending on the town and the conditions at the time, would determine which trick to use. A head fake, an eye movement, a lean, a comment. Whatever it would take to get his opponent out of sync for that fraction of a second and then he was gone. He giggled when related how he was able to virtually dive between the legs of the great Jim Parker, the Baltimore offensive lineman who is a member of this Hall of Fame. He got to the quarterback, not by challenging Parker's mighty strength and power, but by thinking and moving. All of those who faced Henry knew that he was relentless and would try every possible move and invariably win. The fierce interior line battles that he undertook throughout his career. It was Henry Jordan as a member of the Packer defense, that virtually perfected the modern pro inside pass rush.
One of Jordan's many renowned public quips was he played professional football for three reasons. The love of the game, the love of money, and the fear of Vince Lombardi. His love of football of self-evident. His reference to the love of money was in typical Jordan fashion. A not so subtle reference to the fact that all those who have been honored here before and those that will follow, understand the concept of professionalism. Henry understood that winning wasn't everything, but the only thing as meaning, winning determined the size of your paycheck. He made it known to his teammates and his coaches that in the field of professional football not taking care of business affected each team member's pocketbook. Henry would have nothing less than absolute commitment from himself and the other Packer team members. He was the quintessential professional. His reference to the fear of Vince Lombardi would have been more appropriately phrased as a deep respect for his responsibility as a head coach of a championship team and the manner in which he fulfilled those responsibilities. To be effective he knew that Lombardi needed unflagging respect from his players. Henry gained Lombardi's respect as well. Few people know that Henry walked out of pre-season camp one year not because of salary, but because he was dissatisfied with the way that Lombardi was treating him. He believed that the coach should have known that Henry was the one man on the Packer squad that knew what was going on in the lives of the various team members and how it affected the team's performance. Things that the coach didn't know, but which Henry would address on and off the field in his own way. History tells us that Jordan returned to the camp having won the respect few people have attained. Lombardi treated Jordan differently.
Some of our current American sports heroes can take a lesson from Henry. He never abused his body with drugs and alcohol. He was an avid reader. An outstanding student graduating with honors from the University of Virginia. He was captain of his college football team. An Atlantic Coast conference heavyweight wrestling champ. Runner-up for the NCAA heavyweight wrestling championship. A distinguished military student and a commissioned Army officer. He was happily married, the father of three beautiful and loving children, and a successful businessman. His death is one of life's mysteries in that in spite of the care of his body, even while attempting to do so at the Milwaukee Athletic Club at 42 years of age on February 21, 1977 he died unexpectedly. Although Henry's death left many people in shock. What it did was bring home what he was to so many then and now. Bud Lee, the Milwaukee Centinal Sports Editor at the time, put it well on the day following Henry's death when he wrote an article which was entitled, "Henry Jordan looked at the light side.'' The last two paragraphs say it all. Here is what Bud Lee said, "I was on my way to the Miller bowling tournament and listening to the car radio when I heard of Jordan's death Monday. I told the Miller people of the news and quickly headed back to the office. As the public address system made the announcement of his death an eerie silence fell over the red-carpet celebrity lanes.'' Lee ended his story by writing, ''Henry Jordan was loved by a lot of people.'' And I will add my personal footnote to that. He also had a lot of friends. And I am privileged to be one of them.
My congratulations to Henry's family, his former teachers, coaches, the Green Bay Packer organization, and all of his friends and former high school and college teammates who are here today and feel a part of the pride and pleasure that Henry achieves by this award.
He was drafted out of the University of Virginia as a fifth-round pick by the Cleveland Browns in 1957. As you've heard two years later, he was traded to Green Bay. There he was anchored at the right defensive tackle spot and the Packers became a dynasty. Winning six divisional titles, five NFL championships, and the first two Super Bowls. Jordan was an all pro pick six times and played in five Pro Bowls, one in which he was chosen the outstanding defensive lineman. He missed just two games in his first twelve of thirteen pro seasons. It was a long time coming. And I must say that his family, friends are grateful that this has occurred today. I would like to thank God for Henry Jordan and all that he has meant to so many. At this time, it's my esteemed honor to present Henry Wendell Jordan to Henry Jordan Jr. for induction into the Professional Football Hall of Fame. Thank you very much.
Henry Jordan Jr. on behalf of Henry Jordan
Thank you, Don. That was an outstanding speech. I'm sure dad would have loved it. First off, I would like to thank the Pro Football Hall of Fame committee for making this long-time dream of Henry Jordan's a reality. In addition, the whole Hall of Fame organization has been a pleasure to work with. My family and I were treated very kindly, professionally, and warmly. I would like to thank you all very much. We will not forget it. Also, to the people of Canton, your warmth and hospitality is unmatched. Thank you very much.
You know as a fan it is really an honor for me to be on the steps of the Hall of Fame, standing in front of such greats that are sitting behind me and those in the hall itself. Congratulations to all of you on your accomplishment. Those of you in the audience and many of you on TV right now what a big day this is for my dad and his family. And I want to thank you for tuning in and watching today because this is a big day. for him and he would be glad to have you here to celebrate it with him.
Those of you that knew my father knew he was never at a loss of words of whit and humorous antidotes. And knowing him as you do, you know he would have loved this moment. To be the center of attention in front of the entire country for ten minutes. And being able to tell you exactly how he felt at this moment with no interruptions. His comment probably would have been, ''see I knew that being pretty wasn’t the only thing that I had to offer the game of football.”
There are people I believe he would have recognized and thanked for their contributions to what became Henry Jordan the man we loved as a player, a father, and a friend. But first and foremost, I believed dad would have thanked his creator. He wasn't an openly religious man, however the bible teachings and lessons were imbedded in him and practiced throughout his life. The Golden Rule is the one I know foremost was in his demonstrations to his family and friends and others he came in contact with. Next at the top of his list was his loving wife, Olive. She saw something more in him than those good looks and charming personality I just mentioned. In the roller coaster ride that is life in pro football, she was his rock throughout it all. Whenever the world or Vince Lombardi beat him down, she was there to build him up again and send him back out. She truly was the wind beneath his wings. His three kids Theresa, Suzanne, and myself I feel would have gotten some recognition as well. In addition to our unquestioning love and support of him as our father, his children were very, very important to him. And wanting to allow his children to have the best life he could give them was a driving force for him. Let’s face it, raising a family with three kids is not easy. I know I have three myself and one on the way. His mother and father, the late Henry and Katherine Jordan and his immediately family including his younger brother Gene sitting here today, for teaching him love, compassion, a belief in God, having one's pride in family. I would call that a code of honor that he practiced throughout his life. His high school wrestling coach and football coach, Coach Hamilton needs to be recognized as well, for teaching young men that using his natural physical abilities could open many doors or him in the future. His University of Virginia wrestling coach, Coach Finger and teammates and friends like Don Kovatch and Bob Gundernan for their belief in him and showing him that it just extended beyond his 170 IQ. His natural animal strength, quickness, and mental toughness set him apart from his peers. But you know what, he wasn't condemned for this, he wasn't ostracized for this. He was encouraged. And with that encouragement came graduation on the dean's list and selection by the Cleveland Browns in 1957.
Now many of you may be unaware, but at that time dad was offered the opportunity to wrestle on the Olympics at that time. Fortunately for all of us now, one could not make a living for one's self and family as an amateur athlete at that time. The Cleveland Browns experience showed dad the importance of technique, game fundamentals and strategies. In addition, when you have limited playing time, it gives you a driving hunger to claim a place of your own when you are given a chance.
Enter the Green Bay Packers. Here is where he was able to bring it all together. The love of team, his physical abilities, his mental acumen, and his drive to succeed. All this came together for one purpose, to be the absolute best that he could be. There is a long list of people associated with the Green Bay organization that I know dad would have liked to thank. But on a personal note, you people got to know dad on a level that I was never mature enough to achieve before he died. He and I loved each other as a father and son, for which I will always be grateful in fact, its prevalent in how I love my children today. However, he died before I could love him as a friend or brother as all of you did. And this was a relationship he cherished as much as you do. While he would have thanked the whole team as a group for their support of him and his family as they became acclimated to the Green Bay organization. There are a number of people that he would have recognized individually. Please forgive me if I forget a couple of names. At 36 years old, I continue to be told that I can't hear all the stories of life with the Green Bay Packers without anything over the parental discretion rating of G.
The Defense, Willie Davis, Ron Kastelnick, I know you are sitting with Ron right now dad, Dave Robinson, Lionel Aldridge, Leroy Cassey I know you are up there too Leroy, Ray Nitschke, Willie Wood, Herb Adderley, Dave Hanner, Bill Forrester, Hank Greminger, John Symak, Bob Geeter, and Tom Brown. You know there was a bond between these men that was indescribable, and they didn’t need a fancy name or monarch to describe their group. They didn’t need one. They didn't need one to get themselves up for games. And during their time together it was simply the best. The offense, without them the Packers never would have been in a position to win any of their games. Their hard work, support, and ability to deliver points when needed made the rest work harder to give them every chance.
Bart Starr, you were his former roommate during training camp and road trips. When the press called your room on road trips, thank you for letting dad answer the phone first so he could get his name in the paper. You know he really loved that. I also want to thank you for being such a good friend. Keeping him fed and being a good sport with all the shenanigans he pulled on you. Buddy Thurston and Jerry Kramer for the years he played at Green Bay, these two men worked with my dad during and after practice to perfect his game, giving him the different looks, moves, and tendencies he could expect during the coming week. In addition, knowing them they never hesitated to throw in a few combinations of their own. And I believe he was learning to use and work with these combinations that gave dad his extra edge in his game.
Finally, Vince Lombardi. What can I say that hasn't already been said about the man? Coach Lombardi I'm sure you and dad are sitting up there having a nice chat over all of this. Coach Lombardi really showed dad the clan, the team, or family that he had been looking for. He gave him a chance. Many of you have heard my dad's famous quote about Coach Lombardi," he treats us all the same, like dogs.'' I believe there is more to the Lombardi methodology than that and I feel that dad was trying to say that Lombardi treats us all the same like family. And in any family, there is always a patriarch, and, in this case, it was Coach Lombardi. And while there may be many disagreements among his family members. No one outside the family was able to mess with the family, no one. I think this tight comradery that he made out of the Packer organization was very important to my dad and everyone else. And I believe it laid a solid foundation from which to build and it helped drive my dad and the rest of the team to greatness in this business of football. I still think that Packer family is still together today. For example, my sisters and I have grown up feeling that the men that have played football with my dad are extended uncles to our family. And that if at any time we need anything, anything they would be there.
And I know I share these feelings with many Packer children today. This was a top down philosophy driven by Coach Lombardi himself. Coach Lombardi used to say as a player you have only three things to worry about your religion, family, and the Green Bay Packers. Not necessarily in that order. I think he came to instill in them that your family and the Packers were one in the same. And that quality of discipline and unity is what made the difference when the chips were down. Coach Lombardi, thank you for promoting an environment that allowed my dad to maximize and hone his God given skills and then on. Sundays letting him have the stage to show those gifts to the world.
As I get older, I realize more and more how great, how absolutely great it was to grow up in the shadow as such a man as my father, Henry Jordan. His pride in himself, his family, his quick wit, his love, and his sense of fair play have had a tremendous impact on me. My mother has said, if you want to know the man you look to the son. I think this is the greatest compliment she could ever give me. And I'm very proud to be named after him. Well· dad, we miss you very much. I miss you very much and I wish you were here to share this day together. But I know you can hear me. You are the best. Be content to know that your style and techniques of play have laid the foundation for and inspired many of the great athletes that have followed you. You are the top in your field, revel in it. The Hall of Fame is where you belong. I love you dad. You are my hero. Congratulations, you earned it.