The Pro Football Hall of Fame officially welcomed its 2013 class in Saturday evening's enshrinement ceremony in Canton, Ohio.
Former Baltimore Ravens offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden—the defending Super Bowl champion's first-ever draft pick—was the first of the impressive inductees to deliver his speech.
Ogden, the No. 4 overall pick in the 1996 draft, is the first player in Ravens history to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. He will likely be joined by draft classmate Ray Lewis before long, which is a testament to how well GM Ozzie Newsome has drafted over the years.
Ogden: “I am so very proud to be the Ravens first-ever draft choice and I’m so humbled to be the first-ever Hall of Famer.”— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) August 3, 2013
As a 10-time All-Pro selection and 11-time Pro Bowler, there was no doubt this day of induction would come for Ogden, who was a brute force on the gridiron at 6'9" and 345 pounds.
It was a composed, relatively succinct and tear-free speech from Ogden, who expressed appreciation for the fans to cap things off, per the Ravens' official Twitter:
Jonathan Ogden: "Finally, I just really want to thank the fans and the city of Baltimore."— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) August 3, 2013
Ogden says Ravens fans are "undoubtedly the best and most passionate fans I've ever seen."— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) August 3, 2013
Below is a picture of Ogden next to his Hall of Fame bust:
Next up was Green Bay Packers superstar Dave Robinson, who was a key cog at linebacker in the early days of glory for the franchise, helping the Vince Lombardi-coached team to wins in the first two Super Bowls ever.
Robinson expressed thanks to the late, great Joe Paterno and Rip Engle for fostering his development at Penn State, a program known for developing outstanding linebackers:
In his HOF speech Dave Robinson credits Rip Engle and Joe Paterno. "They took a diamond in the rough and made him a football player."— Audrey Snyder (@audsnyder4) August 4, 2013
One of the more memorable one-liners of the evening was delivered by Robinson, as he gave a very candid take on the sport's physicality:
New HOFer Dave Robinson: "When you play football you've got to like the taste of blood. . . . 50-70 percent of the time, it's your blood."— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) August 4, 2013
Chris Berman noted on the ESPN telecast that longtime Dallas Cowboys offensive lineman Larry Allen could bench 700 pounds, which made him a force to be reckoned with at the line of scrimmage.
Allen followed up Robinson's frequent use of humor with one of the funnier stories of the day:
Rotoworld and NBC Sports NFL writer Josh Norris dished out a new nickname for Allen:
Larry 40 hands— Josh Norris (@JoshNorris) August 4, 2013
In his 12 seasons with the Cowboys, the versatile Allen played every position on the line except center and was dominant at each one.
Dallas won Super Bowl XXX with Allen serving as one of the anchors on a loaded offense prominently featuring Emmitt Smith, Michael Irvin and Troy Aikman.
Bill Parcells, the only man who made his career as a head coach in this year's class, ended his prolific coaching career with the Cowboys. Nicknamed "The Big Tuna," it wasn't surprising to see that the charismatic former sideline staple easily grabbed command of the Canton crowd.
Parcells, who is best known for taking the New York Giants to championships in Super Bowls XXI and XXV, made a crack at legendary linebacker Lawrence Taylor during his speech:
Parcells, "When they put my bust in the hall tomorrow, I'd like to be somewhere near Lawrence Taylor so I can keep an eye on that sucker."— Eye on Football (@EyeOnNFL) August 4, 2013
Perhaps even more impressive is the long-term consistency Parcells had with four different franchises:
Bill Parcells is the only head coach in NFL history to take 4 different franchises to postseason (Giants, Patriots, Jets, Cowboys).— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) August 4, 2013
There's no doubt that Parcells was worthy of the Hall of Fame because of his knack for turning struggling teams around.
Following Parcells was Curley Culp, a stupendous defensive tackle who played for the Kansas City Chiefs (1968-74), Houston Oilers (1974-80) and Detroit Lions (1980-81).
Culp described the surreal feeling of pro football's ultimate individual honor:
In only his second season, he served as an anchor in the Chiefs' defense for their Super Bowl IV championship-winning team. Culp had a huge impact on the Oilers, too, helping Houston to two straight AFC Championships in 1978 and 1979.
To be a truly great NFL player, one has to prepare relentlessly, which is apparently what Culp did leading up to his trip to Canton, according to John McClain of the Houston Chronicle:
What a terrific acceptance speech by Curley Culp. He worked hard on his speech and he told me he was practicing until he left for Canton.— John McClain (@McClain_on_NFL) August 4, 2013
The outspoken former Tampa Bay Buccaneers star Warren Sapp followed Culp, continuing the trend of defensive tackles at that point in the evening.
At his position, only John Randle of the Minnesota Vikings could statistically parallel Sapp's ability to pressure the quarterback.
Warren Sapp's 96.5 career sacks, 2nd most EVER by a defensive tackle. #PFHOF13— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) August 4, 2013
Sapp, who won his lone championship in Super Bowl XXXVII with the Bucs over the same Oakland Raiders team he would finish his career with, was extremely emotional during his speech.
ESPN's Josina Anderson documented one of the most heartfelt moments, when Sapp mentioned his ex-wife as a key figure in his life who kept him going in the proper direction:
Wonderful human touch for @WarrenSapp to thank his ex-wife for holding him up.— Josina Anderson (@JosinaAnderson) August 4, 2013
As might be expected, eight-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Cris Carter closed things out with a bang.
Having gone to college at Ohio State and being an Ohio native, it was a particularly special occasion for Carter.
Right when he took the stage in front of a warm reception from the audience, he immediately became emotional before uttering his first words. NFL Network's Rich Eisen documented the former Viking star's impact on all those in attendance:
Cris Carter making so many people cry right now, he's putting Roy Firestone to shame.— Rich Eisen (@richeisen) August 4, 2013
Carter emphasized the vital role his mother played in bringing him up with his numerous other siblings, referencing her own accomplishments—including the fact that she got her master's degree in her 50s.
Cris Carter: "Sit down Momma, you in the Hall of Fame"— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) August 4, 2013
A wonderful story was weaved by Carter regarding his release from the Philadelphia Eagles at the beginning of his career, helping to mold him into an eventual Hall of Fame player.
After a slew of shout-outs to his high school coach and the many others who helped him along the way, Carter capped off the enshrinement ceremony with an epic capper:
Cris Carter: "Buckeye born and bred. Now HOF'er even after I'm dead" #DropsTheMic— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) August 4, 2013
The seven newest members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame truly provided a night to remember to those in attendance and those viewing their well-deserved induction on Saturday.
Note: Videos are courtesy of NFL Network and background information on the players was obtained from the Pro Football Hall of Fame's official website.