Joe Schmidt Enshrinement speech

Pro Football Hall of Fame
July 28, 1973

William Clay Ford (Presenter):
Thank you, Jim. Ladies and gentlemen, it is an honor for me to be here to be able to take part in a ceremony that involves a very close friend of mine, Joe Schmidt. Joe was the 7th pick of the Detroit Lions in 1953 from Pittsburgh. Statistically, I would have to say that he was marginal. He was 6 feet tall and 220 pounds. Joe likes to say that at one point in his career, he was 6-3, but he had tackled so many fullbacks that it drove his neck into his shoulders and now he is 6 foot. At any rate, he was listed at 6 feet and as I say was marginal for that position. There are, however, qualities that certainly scouts or anybody who is drafting a ball player cannot measure ... Desire leadership, and courage. Nobody knew what quantity Joe had of these elements and Joe had tremendous qualities in these elements. These are the things that made him what he is today and what brings him here to Canton, and gets him enshrined in this Hall of Fame.

As you probably know, he was one of the first to play middle linebacker and by doing so I think he helped create the present 4-3 defense by eliminating the position of middle guard which was then a problem. He probably is one of the finest that has played middle linebacker nobody ever played it tougher. He was truly an innovator of the game of football. He was with the Detroit Lions' organization for 20 years--13 as a player) one as an assistant coach, and 6 as a head coach. For the record I would just like to cite his accomplishments. He was selected to the Pro Bowl 10 times in his 13 year career. He was selected to the NFL All-Pro Team 8 times. He was captain of the Detroit Lions for 9 consecutive years. And, he was the Lions' most valuable player 4 times. It is indeed an honor for me to present a great player; a great person: and a great friend--Joe Schmidt. Thank you.

Joe Schmidt
Thank you very much Mr. Ford. The last three days in Canton have been just outstanding. I cannot tell you people how much my family have enjoyed everything all the events. The parade today was something that just warms your heart. I have never had this kind of treatment any place. I've travelled 20 years in pro football to many cities and never saw so much about professional football as I have witnessed here in Canton. I think you people should be commended. I think it is just fantastic.

To express myself today it is difficult. Like Jim and Raymond, I thought about this for quite some time and it is difficult to put into words your feelings. This is an overwhelming event. But, like Jim and Ray, there are many people that I must thank for being here today. You know that you can achieve things and reach goals and it does take a lot of individual effort and work of many people who are behind the scenes that help you and give you support. And I’m no different I fit into that category that's for sure.

First off, I would like to thank the good Lord for giving me the athletic ability to play football. I think he reached down and smiled on Raymond, Jim and myself with football instincts and that is why we are here today. If it wouldn't have been for that we certainly wouldn’t be here. You have to have the instincts for this great game. I have a mother who showed me a lot of love and affection and gave me much encouragement throughout my years. My father passed when I was 12 and she went to work and worked all the time I was going to high school and college. And, of course, when I got a little more financially able from professional football, she stopped working. But, I remember her today. I have an older brother who actually is the one responsible for me being in football because he was my idol. He helped me through my high school and, of course, was much encouragement through college, and of course, in professional football as a player helped me quite a bit too. So he has a share in this also.

To my lovely wife with five children who have been by my side for the last 13 years--support. You know, when you lose football games, when you come home you are kind of grouchy, not too happy and I think she has taken a little abuse from me and my kids have taken a little abuse, but she has understandings about my feelings about football and about how much I loved it. And, how much I love the game and hating to lose and of course, her assistance to me has just been outstanding. To friends and many are here today, and teammates who have been with Joe Schmidt for a long time who have traveled here from Detroit and from Pittsburgh and other towns to share this great occasion today. You know, people in life you don’t get too many friends and When you do get some good ones, it is really really pleasant and these people come here today to share this great honor with me. The Detroit Lions and Mr. Ford for the opportunity to play football with the Detroit Lions. I’ve been in Detroit for 20 years. I've been with the organization for 20 years. 13 years as a player and 7 as a coach and they have all been enjoyable. And, to all the past enshrinees here in the Hall of Fame all of the great football players, owners, founders of the game, who have built the foundation and structure of this great game today. If it wouldn't be for them, I certainly wouldn't be here today. They made my job of professional football very easy.

One thing that I'm concerned about this great sport is that there are some people who are putting a dollar sign on football--professional football. I don't think you can do that. I don’t think you can put a dollar sign on any sport. I think you might start to destroy this great game. I hope it doesn't happen. The game has been good to many many people and you have to contribute something when you take something away from it. This has concluded 20 years of being in this great sport and I’m very honored and humbled today to take my place in the Hall of Fame. Thank you very much.