Class ’21 included two players who were entered in their first year of eligibility. The class also included the first coach to lead a wild-card team to a Super Bowl victory. And yes, there were two other Steelers who received a bronze bust on Sunday, bringing the weekend tally to eight former Steelers who were consecrated. The night also included a razzing of the player who many consider to be the GOAT (more on that later).
With both classes now dedicated, let’s take a look at the highlights of Sunday’s 2021 induction, which included Drew Pearson, Tom Flores, Peyton Manning, John Lynch, Calvin Johnson, Alan Faneca, Charles Woodson and contributor Bill Nunn.
Steelers ‘Super’ Scout Celebration
Sunday’s ceremony began with the recognition of Bill Nunn, the only member of the Class of 21 to have been inducted posthumously. Nunn, a leading sports writer before joining the Steelers’ scouting department, was a pioneer in scouting and finding talent in historically black colleges. A host of players from the 1970s Steelers Dynasty included historically black college players, players who included Hall of Fame Joe Greene, Mel Blount, John Stallworth, Donnie Shell and Pro Bowlers LC Greenwood, Dwight White and Ernie Holmes. Nunn spent 46 years in the Steelers’ recruiting department and played a role on all six of Pittsburgh’s championship teams.
Pearson’s prayer is answered
It’s fitting that the play Drew Pearson is famous for is called Hail Mary. It turned out that Pearson would need a similar Hail Mary after waiting several decades to receive his gold jacket. But on Sunday Pearson was alongside his former Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach as Pearson became the 347th Hall of Famer. An undrafted rookie in 1973, Pearson retired as the Cowboys leader in receiving and receiving yards. He was instrumental in the Cowboys’ second Super Bowl victory, a 27-10 victory over the Broncos in Super Bowl XII.
Pearson wanted to thank Gil Brandt, a Hall of Fame executive who discovered Pearson was coming out of Tulsa. Pearson also thanked a host of his former Cowboys receivers, as well as Michael Irvin, who smiled from ear to ear during Pearson’s speech. Pearson thanked Irvin for “carrying on the legacy of Club 88”.
Flores gets her due
Like Pearson, Tom Flores waited a long time to receive his gold jacket and bronze bust. The 84-year-old joked that he was the second speaker so he could go to bed at 9 p.m. Flores’ career is unlike any other. One of 20 people who have played in each of the AFL’s 10 seasons, Flores was the first minority coach to win the Super Bowl. He is one of two coaches to appear in the Super Bowl as a player, assistant coach and head coach.
As the Raiders’ first team assistant for the Super Bowl Championship, Flores was promoted to head coach after John Madden retired. In Flores’ second season as a coach, the Raiders became the first wild-card team to win the Super Bowl after sending the favorite Eagles to Super Bowl XV. Three years later, Flores led the Raiders to a shocking victory over defending champion Washington in Super Bowl XVIII. Flores has the highest playoff winning percentage (0.727) of any coach with at least 10 playoff games.
Canton is Peyton’s place
Peyton Manning received a loud standing ovation as he began his induction speech. Manning, a five-time league MVP and the first starting quarterback to win the Super Bowl with multiple franchises, barely stopped to catch his breath during his impassioned speech. As part of his speech, Manning “confirmed” John Madden’s long-held claim that Hall of Fame busts speak to each other at night. Manning then performed a play -om the busts of Jimmy Johnson and Bill Cowher – that included a large number of fellow Hall of Fame colleagues.
Manning became emotional when speaking about his father and presenter, Archie Manning. A decorated quarterback himself, Archie enjoyed a prolific career at Ole Miss before being a multiple Pro Bowler during his 11 years with the Saints.
“In my youth in New Orleans and at Newman School, football made room for my favorite quarterback, my hero, my role model, my father, Archie Manning to convey something he loved to me,” said Manning said via NFL Network. . “Dad, there is no one I would have preferred or who would be appropriate than you to welcome me at this point.” “
Manning – perhaps in a foreshadowing of a future commissioner speech? – also spoke about the responsibility of each Hall of Famer when it comes to the further growth of football.
Manning made a point of highlighting Tom Brady, who was sitting in his section on Sunday night. The audience didn’t quite give Brady the same standing ovation as Manning did. It’s going to be interesting when Brady is inducted, which Manning guessed in 2035.
You can also check out how Manning isn’t a big fan of having a much shorter time limit for speeches than in previous classes.
John Lynch pleads the case of an ex-teammate
Lynch’s speech included a nod to former Buccaneers teammate Ronde Barber. Lynch and Barber were instrumental in the Buccaneers’ first Super Bowl victory.
“Your time is coming, man!” You’re going to be there, ”Lynch said. Although he has yet to receive the call from Canton, Barber was on CBS Sports’ recent list of 53 non-Hall of Fame players.
Lynch also encouraged the public to follow the lead of NFL players in trying to find common ground.
Megatron thanks Lions fans, highlights physical pain
Calvin Johnson did not directly address the Lions organization during his speech, as Johnson spoke about the issues between him and the retired franchise. Johnson, however, thanked Lions fans and the City of Detroit for their continued support, especially after the team’s 0-16 season in 2018. The third youngest player to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, Johnson is also the seventh receiver. be inducted in their first year of eligibility.
“You have loved my family unconditionally over these years,” Johnson told Lions fans. “Michigan is our home, Detroit is our city, and Lions fans are our pride. ”
Johnson shed light on a back injury suffered early in his career that ultimately led to his retirement at the age of 30. He has devoted much of his retirement to helping those who live with pain on a daily basis.
“There are so many people living in our world with pain right now and I want to talk to you for a moment,” Johnson said. “I want you to know that I see you. You count. Fight and do your best to survive and never give in to the pain. ”
Faneca inspires those with physical challenges
Alan Faneca is synonymous with his crushing block that freed Willie Parker for a 75-yard score in Super Bowl XL. But Faneca chose the Sunday scene to talk about his battle with epilepsy after being diagnosed at the age of 15. Faneca challenged the audience not to let physical challenges get in the way of achieving their goals.
“I knew full well that I was not going to let anything stop me from making this dream come true,” Faneca said after receiving her diagnosis, via NBC Sports. “I knew that as long as I listened to my doctors and followed their advice, with a strong support system, I would be fine. I’ve always said to myself and talked about epilepsy being part of me, but it’s not. define me. We are in charge of our destiny. I never want challenges to define us.
“We have to define ourselves. No matter what life’s challenge, whether we have a disability or not, my message is always to maintain an integral commitment to let nothing stand in the way of achieving our vision. We are all upside down in life, but it’s how we get up that matters. “
Woodson’s touching tribute to his mother
The evening’s final speaker, Charles Woodson, spoke at length about the love and respect he has for his mother, Georgia, who has also been his presenter. Woodson, who grew up two hours from Canton in Fremont, Ohio, served as a defensive back for the Raiders and Packers during his 18-year career.
“They say a woman can’t raise a man, that’s [expletive] Woodson said.
If you’d like to learn more about each of the 2021 inductees, be sure to click here. And check out our live blog below to relive Sunday’s ceremony.