I’ve returned to Vikings training camp in Mankato, MN after another great Pro Football Hall of Fame Weekend in Canton, Ohio, which has now become one of my favorite weekends of the year after attending last year’s enshrinement ceremony of Randall McDaniel and then this year’s enshrinement of John Randle.
I won’t give a step-by-step account of my trip – check out the Vikings official Twitter account (@VikingsFootball) for that – but I will tell you that it was a tremendous weekend. Randle was a fan-favorite for his entire career in Minnesota and his path to the Hall of Fame is one that not many take. He is from a town of 150 people in rural Texas, wasn’t recruited by major college football programs, went undrafted and was considered too small to ever play in the NFL.
Ultimately, though, Randle became the face of the Vikings defense for nearly a decade and now he’s a Hall of Famer. Although this is said about a lot of people, I truly believe it about John – it couldn’t have happened to a better person. Randle has always been great to me and the Vikings and his wife, Candace, has been a great support to Randle and also to the organization.
On top of watching Randle go into the Hall of Fame, I also got to see the best RB and the best WR of all time (in my opinion) go into the Hall of Fame together. It was quite the site to see Emmitt Smith and Jerry Rice go in together. The fanfare in Canton for those 2 players and those 2 teams was quite remarkable.
Other members of the Class of 2010 were:
Russ Grimm – one of Joe Gibbs’ “Hogs” along the offensive line who was a true leader for the Redskins during their glory years.
Ricky Jackson – an underrated LB for the New Orleans Saints.
Dick LeBeau – a great safety for the Detroit Lions and respected defensive coordinator for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Floyd Little – a RB for the Denver Broncos who became the first Denver RB to rush for 1,000 yards in a season.
I’ll close this entry with 2 more thoughts:
1) One reason I love Hall of Fame weekend is because of the opportunity to learn. As much as I’ve followed the NFL in my life, there is still so much I don’t know. Attending Hall of Fame weekend is a true learning experience that opens my mind to other eras, players and teams that comprise the great history of the NFL and football in America.
2) The emotion is palpable in Canton. The players who are enshrined are the game’s greatest warriors, but they are humble and emotional during the enshrinement as they look back at their careers and thank those who helped them along the way. I think players fear the day that their careers end because there’s no going back and experiencing the good times, the times of teamwork and camaraderie and the blood, sweat and tears. They know that one day those days will die. But Hall of Famers don’t suffer that fate. When they’re enshrined, their careers become immortal. They’re part of an exclusive club of great players who will live forever in NFL history. And it’s at the enshrinement ceremony where they first realize this and experience the emotion that accompanies it. They are truly humbled at that point and truly thankful for the aide they’ve received along the way. I love watching those Hall of Famers experience that.
Tags: John Randle, Randall McDaniel
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