ESPN will air the Pro Football Hall of Fame ceremonies this Saturday. Seven men are part of the Class of 2010 and the acceptance speeches will be aired in their entirety throughout the night. As usual, the Hall of Fame ceremonies in essence kick off the NFL season as the first preseason game will be played the following night.
Here’s the ESPN press release.
Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony Live on ESPN Saturday at 7 p.m.ESPN’s Chris Berman to be Honored with Pete Rozelle Radio-Television Award and Emcee HOF Ceremony
ESPN will present live coverage of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2010 enshrinement ceremony Saturday, August 7, at 7 p.m. ET from Canton, Ohio. NFL Live’s Trey Wingo will host the three-hour primetime telecast with analyst Tom Jackson. ESPN’s Chris Berman, who will be honored Friday night in Canton with the Hall of Fame’s Pete Rozelle Radio-Television Award at the Enshrinees Dinner, will again emcee the ceremony. The seven members of this year’s class include: Russ Grimm, Rickey Jackson, Dick LeBeau, Floyd Little, John Randle, Jerry Rice, and Emmitt Smith. The telecast – which will re-air Sunday, Aug. 8, at 2 p.m. on ESPN Classic – will review each inductee’s career and include speeches by the inductees and their presenters.
Correspondent Ed Werder will also provide reports for SportsCenter and other ESPN programs throughout the Hall of Fame weekend, including coverage of Sunday’s Bengals-Cowboys game.
Jackson comments on the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2010:“Most times I’ve always thought that seven is too many, period. Because the Pro Football Hall of Fame started later than MLB or the NBA, it was like we were attempting to play catch up to fill up the Hall. I don’t know that you can find seven all of the time, but this class, they’re all legit. It is fun for us because they are all deserving. It’s a good class.”
On Washington NFL Team guard Russ Grimm…Jackson: “What you look for in a guard is consistency. The championships speak for themselves. It is difficult to judge offensive linemen but his consistency and greatness was a pedigree he held the entire time he played football. When I think of a great offensive guard, he comes to mind.”
On New Orleans Saints and San Francisco 49ers linebacker Rickey Jackson…Jackson: “He was a tremendous tackler and a tremendous guy off the edge. We always say Lawrence Taylor reinvented the position, but Rickey did that same thing. He was with a great unit with the Saints. This honor is representative of outstanding linebacker play for his entire career.”
On Detroit Lions cornerback Dick LeBeau…Jackson: “He was a tremendous playmaker in the backfield. I know that because you look at the picks and plays he made and what he accomplished. That’s how good he was. In addition to his career as a player, you can’t separate that from how good a coach he is. Not only is he a Hall of Fame player, but a Hall of Fame coach. Those two things make his induction doubly gratifying.”
On Denver Broncos running back Floyd Little…Jackson: “Our careers overlapped by a couple years. Floyd Little was as good a running back as I’ve ever seen and that’s high praise. I know it for a fact because I played with him. The last game he ever played in the National Football League, he put up about 180 yards and two touchdowns. That was the last game he ever played and that’s how good he was at the very end. His induction, I’ve always thought, has been long overdue because I thought he’d be the first Bronco to go in.”
On Minnesota Vikings and Seattle Seahawks defensive tackle John Randle…Jackson: “John Randle played the interior line – an undersized interior tackle who was able to dominate every game that he played. In terms of how special his performance was, it was his ability to do what he did and be undersized in doing it. We just don’t see it now in the NFL and I don’t know that we’ll ever see it again. I don’t know that you’ll ever see an interior tackle that’s not 290-300 pounds. Randle was a guy who weighed 260 and looked undersized but he was dominant inside. That’s why John is going into the Hall of Fame.”
On San Francisco 49ers and Oakland Raiders wide receiver Jerry Rice…Jackson: “I grew up in Cleveland and my thought has always been that Jim Brown was the greatest football player to ever step on the field. Jerry Rice is the only guy that made me think differently. They are the two greatest players in the history of football. Everybody will talk about the numbers. Who knows if we’ll ever see those numbers again, but it’s not just the numbers. It’s the way he played. As a former player, I have more of an appreciation of the way he played the game. He is the first guy I saw in practice, no matter where he caught the ball, who would run as fast as he could for a touchdown. Forty yards away, 80, 60, whatever – he’d catch it and run it for a touchdown every time. I remember asking the coaching staff: ‘When did you get him to do that?’ and they said, ‘We never asked, he just always did.’ That’s how you build the greatest receiver of all time, when your expectation every time is to get to the end zone. That’s why he did it more than anyone in the history of the game.”
On Dallas Cowboys and Arizona Cardinals running back Emmitt Smith…Jackson: ” He’s got the best numbers and ranks among the top three running backs in my mind to ever because it takes such greatness over such a long period of time. He has the most yardage, but when I name those three guys – Jim Brown, Emmitt and the Juice (O.J. Simpson) – Walter Payton’s numbers were also incredible. I played against Juice and know how good he was. I never played against Jim but saw him throughout my childhood. When you are listed in the top three or four running backs among those guys, that’s true greatness. He was a rare combination of a lot of different things: burst, power, elusiveness. His determination in big plays may rival anyone who played the game. Those moments when you need it the most, he came up with the biggest plays.”
On Berman, his friend and colleague, receiving the Hall of Fame’s Rozelle Radio-Television Award…Jackson: “Boom and I have been working together for 23 years. He is most deserving of this and I have a hard time wrapping up our careers in one statement. Chris does so many things so well. I always want to let people know that in terms of the highlight package and the ability to do a highlight and get people to enjoy that, he is the best at it. He is the greatest NFL highlight man in the history of TV. Nobody’s done it like him and has made it as fun and appealing as he has. For me, a large part of they joy in my job is being able to do it next to Chris. He gets immortalized with this award and is very deserving. He will always be remembered.”
Additional ESPN Coverage of Pro Football Hall of Fame Induction Week:ESPNNFL Live with Wingo and Jackson will be live at 4 p.m. from Canton on Friday, Aug. 6, to preview the weekend festivities and to offer the latest news from NFL training camps across the country.
ESPN’s original series Homecoming with Rick Reilly will highlight the legendary career of Class of 2010 inductee Emmitt Smith (Thursday, Aug. 5 at 8 p.m.). Homecoming shows highlighting Smith and fellow inductee Jerry Rice will re-air on ESPN Classic Saturday, Aug. 7, and Sunday, Aug. 8.
ESPN RadioESPN Radio will present coverage of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony on SportsCenter Saturday (10 a.m. – 8 p.m.) with Freddie Coleman and John Clayton, and Saturday GameNight (8 p.m. – 1 a.m.) co-hosted by Dari Nowkhah and Marcellus Wiley, including highlights of the inductees’ speeches.
ESPN ClassicA “Hall of Fame Tribute” airs all week, Aug. 2-8, on ESPN Classic leading up to the 2010 Pro Football Hall of Fame ceremony, including past Pro Football Hall of Fame speeches, Homecoming with Rick Reilly episodes featuring Jerry Rice and Emmitt Smith, an Up Close Special: Dallas Cowboys and Firestone Chats: Legends at Running Back. An “Instant Classic” replay of the 2010 Pro Football Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremony will air at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 8.ESPN.comESPN.com will offer extensive coverage from the Hall of Fame weekend with the “Cover it Live” feature, including contributions from bloggers James Walker, Kevin Seifert, Matt Mosley and Pat Yasinkas. A photo gallery and transcripts of the speeches will be available after the ceremony. Leading up to the Hall of Fame weekend, ESPN.com will have features on all of this year’s inductees, including first-person reflections by the Hall of Famers themselves, as well as their former teammates and opponents.