Ted Hendricks Enshrinement speech

Ted Hendricks Enshrinement Speech 1990

Presenter: Al Davis

It is always, now calm down up there, now I told you a while ago that we will move this Hall of Fame to the west coast and if you carry on, we might have to move Pittsburgh to the west coast. It is always great to be with an audience that loves you and respects you and like the Pittsburgh Steeler fans are scared to death of you.

The Raiders, and I know this is self-serving, have just finished three decades of football, the 60s, 70s and 80s and the Raiders in those three decades have the best records in all of professional sports. Only the Raiders played in the Super Bowls in the 60s, the 70s, and 80s and Ted Hendricks, the great Ted Hendricks, was one of three Raiders along with the legendary Hall of Famers, Gene Upshaw and Art Shell who, played in all three decades. An unbelievable continuity of excellence for 15 years. Ted Hendricks had every endowment, every physical one of the premier linebackers. He could attack the pocket with the greatest of them all, except maybe one but he could play space with devastating efficiency, intercepting passes anywhere on the field. He was near impossible to block at the point of attack, he was one of the first who could actually dedicate to the offense and on 4th down he could block field goals and punts and extra points like no other player in the history of the game. He was the consummate linebacker, more complete, more all around than anyone else who played this great game. His records as well as his play prove it and this 6’7” giant was guided by a killer mentality.

I would like to come back to Ted in a moment, I would like to tell you it is a great inspiration to come here again today, eight times. But it is our field of dreams every year, a field of dreams in which our legendary heroes are always available for instant recall, to set the echoes ringing bring down the thunder from the sky and inspire us to dream together and work together for the glory of our game. I said this before to come here to the Hall, walk through its exhibits, to play tribute to the old-timers who sit behind me and those who are out in the audience, to this class whom we honor here today and in whose glory we all share. And then the marvelous group of today's presenters who by themselves stand for honor, courage, loyalty and character.

The Raiders with all their great tradition, with all their mystic can never forget Hank Stram and the Kansas City Chiefs, the Big Red, Don Shula and his great Miami. Dolphins of the 70s, the legendary battles with Chuck Knoll and the Pittsburgh Steelers, Tom Landry and the great Cowboys teams. There is a continuing realization that we all owe them and I for one and the Raiders wherever we are will never forget that debt. I want to say for all of us including the great fans who participate and partake in the vicious struggle to be number one and who ride in the roller coaster, called. professional football dreams a lot and trust a lot in the muses of fate and destiny. We believe if we live right, work hard, we can dominate, and we may be blessed with miraculous good fortune. It has happened to the Raider organization more than a few times. In fact, I am here today in Canton because of a miracle named Ted Hendricks that happened to us 15 years ago.

He did not come to us in the embryonic stage, but we were convinced that he was always destined to be a Raider. This calmer and the fixation of the Raiders in time and place made the matching inevitable. But it was another quality, uniquely American specialness that enabled Ted to bridge the gap between star and legend. The historians call that mantle individualism and its wearer is often termed maverick. Ted Hendricks, if there ever was one, was a maverick. A maverick is a person who will defy custom, stand up for principal and have the courage to do things his way. As a spokesman for the Raider organization and its great players, its great fans, its great office people, I would like to express our gratitude for the many ways in which this magnificent athlete contributed to our success. Thank you, Ted, for having the charismatic presence in every game you played. You were the epitome of just win baby, just win. Thank you, Ted, for having such an awesome tolerance for pain and not at all for defeat. It took indestructibility to do what this guy did, but he played in 215 consecutive league games. The most ever played by a linebacker, the most in the history of the National Football League. Thank you, Ted, for your commitment to excellence and the will to win you provided as a defensive team captain. Thanks for being such a winning force in every one of the four Super Bowls that you played, three with the Raiders, and his teams won all four.

And lastly, Ted from all of us, exemplifying the great Raider spirit and individuality the, carrying of that silver and black insignia so proudly and distinctly on your uniform and in your heart. We will always wish you God’s speed. As you go into the Hall of Fame, we advise you that you bring your silver and black helmet with you. There are 6 legends named Shell, Upshaw, Otto, Brown, Biletnikoff and Blanda that have been waiting patiently for a linebacker and we could do no less than to send in the very best there is. I want you to think of all the great stadiums, Pittsburgh, Miami, Kansas City, Dallas, and as the crowd roars in my dream stadium becomes thunderess, I can hear the P.A. announcer saying from Hialeah, FL where he was the high school all-American, from the University of Miami, where he was a college all-American, from the Baltimore Colts, the Green Bay Packers, the Oakland and now Los Angeles where he was all pro with every team number 83 in his finest hour, the indestructible· Hall of Famer, Ted Hendricks.

Ted Hendricks

Well, I had a short speech planned because Miami Springs, my hometown, has a party planned for me and I think I'm going to be late. But I am not going to let the Pittsburgh Steelers take anything away from me.

First of all, I would like to say that my father cannot make it here today, but my father played high school football against Tom Landry. Landry went to Mission High School and my father was from McCallan High School in Texas. Getting on with that, I am not going to mention my whole famtly but I thank them an awful lot for what they have done for me. My friends, my fellow teammates and my coaches and one owner of the organization of the Raiders. Now Commissioner Tagliabue, I am not very familiar with you, but I am. with King Rozelle and I hope he gets the message here because we have had some great times with him and his office when I came to the Raiders.

Now to get along to all the teams that I played for, there are four 01 f them. When you think about the different cities, one team takes on two cities and I felt like I didn't have a home anywhere because the Baltimore Colts are now the Indianapolis Colts and the first that I played for the Baltimore Colts, Don Shula was the coach and he drafted me. I finally made the team then in the old NFL and as the merger came about, Don left me. We won the Super Bowl the year that he left and that was my first Super Bowl appearance. A second-year man in the NFL and here I am playing with the greats on the Baltimore Colts team that had lost a Super Bowl game to the Jets and had championship games in 1958 and 1959, all that team was still there. And here I am a rookie among all these stars, and I am not going to go through the names because I am going to keep this a little short because I have a little more to say than I had planned to. Anyway, Don Shula, my third year in the league, kept me away from having a Super Bowl ring by beating us down in Miami 21-0. Upon that, the following year, the Colts were actually decimated, and a new ownership took over.

My team left and I was left behind. My two years there, I was very unhappy, and I was happy the Baltimore Colts at that time which are the Indianapolis Colts, same ownership, sent me to Green Bay because in Green Bay I had one of my finest years ever. And that was in the NFC conference. Well, low and behold, I became a free agent and I had a talk to Commissioner Tagliabue's office to get his advice on what the legalities were. I offered my services first back to the Green Bay Packers, and then to the Miami Dolphins, then to the Atlanta Falcons and the only one who could sign me was Al Davis from the Raiders. He had to make some concessions, but they weren't that big. Anyway, on my first year with the Raiders, I pulled a ham string muscle, not a. ham string, a groin muscle, a little difference. Anyway wh.at happened during that year since I couldn’t start the first game, although I did play on the specialty teams, I sat the bench after making four consecutive all pros.

It was a very frustrating year for me, and I believe we played Pittsburgh that year and they won the game. But the following year, we were the Super Bowl champs and to mention all the Raiders players it would take up too much time. You know the Hall of Famers as Al mentioned. As my career went on you know I got a starting job with the Raiders. I played a right linebacker, then they switched me over to left linebacker and I finally made all pro again in my later years and I recall a Monday Night game against Pittsburgh and Bradshaw was so courteous to me he threw me two interceptions in that game and we beat them in their home town. Now, the Raiders love to come into a town such as Cleveland, in one of our play-off games with 80,000 people booing us, we just love that. Well, I have never heard 80,000 people go silent in one play and we intercepted the ball and we went on to win our Super Bowl again.

To name the rivalries of the Raiders, the Miami Dolphins, first of all the Kansas City Chiefs, but I got to the Raiders, after that rivalry was concerned, naturally the Pittsburgh Steelers. We always have had a rivalry with our interconference games. Seattle Seahawks always gave us a problem, San Diego Chargers, Denver Broncos, Cleveland doesn't like us at all, New York Jets gave us a time, but they're still afraid of us. It seems like everybody is actually afraid to play us, no not afraid it is just a rivalry we have between you. I have to mention a congratulatory note to my fellow enshrinees but more than that, to the Hall of Famers that are already enshrined. And to go back through the history, this is the cream of the crop and they show exactly what dignity, humanity and greatness is all about. Getting a little tongue tied here.

In closing I would like to say that the fans are the greatest part of football and you give us the courage to go on and play to a point of excellence and our desire of excellence. And as a matter of fact, our motto is a commitment to excellence, and I told Al one time I should have been committed a long time ago.