Robert Brazile Enshrinement speech
When I told my wife, Brenda, I didn't know how to start this speech, she looked at me and said, "I don't think starting the speech is going to be your problem."
By now, all of us know how important knocks and telephone calls can be to a football player. For me, I experienced them both ‑‑ the knocks and the phone calls.
To this day, one of the knocks that still sticks in my mind is that man right there knocking on the bathroom door: "Boys, y'all have been in that tub too long." The funny thing is my mother, Ola Mae, only made about an inch of bath Tide water for both me and my brothers, Vic and Joe, to use.
I'm joking, because my home was nothing but love and support.
In fact, my first coach was my mother, Ola Mae. But it was her brother, Odell Randall, that kept after my parents: "Y'all better let that boy play ball."
Back then, everyone thought it was funny when they saw my homemade jersey. I used my dad's black electrical tape to make a big number 63 or 51 on an old T‑shirt so I could be Willie Lanier or Dick Butkus. I should say everyone but my dad thought it was funny, because he could never find that tape.
I'll bet you right about now my kids are all probably saying, oh, no, which phone call he's going to tell everybody about. Well, let's see. No, I just want to tell all of them that I'm so glad that you trusted me enough to call me for anything.
So, Sherrie, Katrinda, Trey, Deanna, your husband Matt, and Blaine, Nathan, your wife Marleny and my grandson Daniel, Lyndsay, your husband Andres and my two granddaughters, never stop calling me because I love y'all so much.
One of the best telephone calls I ever got was when I was at Jackson State in Michigan. At that time, Walter Payton was bringing scouts from all over to our practices.
This turned out to be great for Walter and me because we was making history: Two first‑round draft picks from a historical black college and university.
And off of that same team, telephone calls came to Ricky Young, John Tate, Vernon Perry, Hall of Famer Jackie Slater, Leon Gray, Rodney Phillips, Walter's brother Eddie, Emanuel Zanders, and Don Reese, all got phone calls that we'll be playing in the NFL.
The '75 draft phone call was also important because it brought me in contact with Bud Adams and his family. It gave me a second father in Bum Phillips. Bum's philosophy in life and in football was: Every man get a man, and every man get ‑‑ you're right ‑‑ two.
The draft phone call gave me great assistant coaches and teammates that became my brother. The draft phone call gave me John McClain, whose campaign to get me here today would never, never be forgotten by me nor my family.
In 1985, the Houston Oilers was right here in Canton. We were to play the New York Giants in the Hall of Fame game. But after ten Iron Man seasons, never missing a game and starting every game, I got that knock on the door.
It was an assistant coach telling me that the head coach wanted to see me. This would be one of the most difficult knocks that I would ever hear in my life. The head coach told me that I was not going to start. They had decided to go with the younger ball players, the ones I had mentored that whole summer.
This knock destroyed me. I fell out of love with football for the first time in my life. This knock sent me and my son, Trey, back to Whistler, Alabama, where my family, my community, and my church welcomed me home.
Soon after I came home, I started working at my alma mater, Vigor High School, in Prichard, Alabama. At Vigor, there was some other great legends that have once walked the halls. We'll all play for the Vigor Wolves ‑‑ Paul Crane with the New York Jets, Scott Hunter with the Green Bay Packers, Don Reese with the Miami Dolphins, and Ricky Young with the Minnesota Vikings.
All of us from the same high school. And it's important to mention that over the next 20 years more than a dozen young athletes from Vigor would get their phone call telling them that they would be playing in the NFL. That's why people from Mobile say there's got to be something in that water down there.
After coming home, it would be phone calls from people like Bum, Debbie Phillips, Amy Adams‑Strunk, Eddie Biles, my quarterback Dan Pastorini, Kelleyne, Rob Lynch, Billy "White Shoes" Johnson, Greg Bingham, Duane Benson, my man Vernon Perry, and other teammates that would bring back this love I once had for football.
You see, all of these phone calls was important because they kept the "Luv you Blue" family together.
Back in August when the phone call came from Dave Baker, the Senior Hall of Fame Committee and a few Hall of Famers, I began to hope and pray that football might be ready to love me back.
So, Mr. Hall of Famer Kenny Houston, Earl Campbell, Elvin Bethea, Curley Culp, Munchak, Jackie Slater, Lem Barney, Warren Moon, Ricky Jackson, my man, Lawrence Taylor, and my Class of 2018 Pro Football Hall of Fame, when Dave knocked on my door, all of my dreams came true. And after all these years, I'm at home.