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Pro Football Hall of Fame 2019: Ceremony Recap, Speech Highlights and Reaction

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorAugust 4, 2019

Former NFL player Champ Bailey speaks during the induction ceremony at the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Saturday, Aug. 3, 2019, in Canton, Ohio. (AP Photo/David Richard)
David Richard/Associated Press

The Pro Football Hall of Fame welcomed eight new members on Saturday.

Defensive backs made up half the field, with Johnny Robinson, Champ Bailey, Ed Reed and Ty Law earning their gold jackets.

Two players who can claim to be the best at their position of all time also took center stage, with center Kevin Mawae and tight end Tony Gonzalez earning the trip to Canton, Ohio.

Former Denver Broncos owner Pat Bowlen and former Dallas Cowboys vice president of player personnel Gil Brandt rounded out the group.

The night wasn't short on powerful and profound moments, perhaps none more so than Bailey's closing. Players also gave tearful shoutouts to family members, and the Bowlen family stood together to honor their late patriarch.

Here's a look at the induction ceremony highlights for all eight men, as well as some brief biographies.

       

Gil Brandt, VP of Player Personnel, Dallas Cowboys

Highlights and Reaction

NFL @NFL

.@Gil_Brandt is the first to unveil his @ProFootballHOF bust! #PFHOF19 📺: @nflnetwork https://t.co/umFsCxf1gE

NFL @NFL

"My life has been an incredible journey, all inspired by football." - @Gil_Brandt #PFHOF19 📺: @nflnetwork https://t.co/zdMDfvAuWc

Phil Savage @PhilSavage

Incredible to hear the history of the #NFL through the induction speech of @Gil_Brandt. No one knows the background of virtually every player, coach and scout over the past 60 years! The skeleton of the @dallascowboys scouting system is still used all over the league! #PFHOF19

Bio

The former Dallas Cowboys vice president of player personnel won two Super Bowls, five NFC championships and 13 divisional titles from 1960-1988. The team was .500 or better from 1965-1985.

Brandt was part of a team that drafted numerous Cowboys legends, including quarterback Roger Staubach, defensive linemen Randy White and Bob Lilly, running back Tony Dorsett and wideout Bob Hayes.

The executive's calling card was turning over every stone to find players, as Kevin Sherrington of the Dallas Morning News referenced:

"Brandt found players in places no one in the NFL had ever gone. Fort Valley State. Elizabeth City State. Ouachita Baptist. He found football players in Navy uniforms, Air Force uniforms, basketball uniforms. Made a science out of it. Collected results from 50 'experts' on what made football players tick."

Per Sherrington, the Cowboys won 60.7 percent of their games with Brandt on staff.

        

Johnny Robinson, S, Kansas City Chiefs

Highlights and Reaction

NFL @NFL

It's finally his time. @Chiefs legend Johnny Robinson unveils his @ProFootballHOF bust! #PFHOF19 📺: @nflnetwork https://t.co/G9Iw8mv7t9

Kansas City Chiefs @Chiefs

This was well worth the wait! 4️⃣2️⃣'s #PFHOF19 Speech. 📺: @nflnetwork https://t.co/xmQTPgvxzC

Tim Brando @TimBrando

Johnny Robinson’s taped acceptance was magnificent and Ilm tell ya he wanted to do it right!He was overcome with emotions just a little over a month ago when inducted into the @LaSportsHall incredible guy and yes now at long last in Canton.Can’t wait to hear from @KevinMawae now!

Bio

Johnny Robinson's long overdue Hall of Fame induction comes following a 12-year career during which he picked off 57 passes.

Robinson snatched 10 each in 1966 (when the Chiefs were in the AFL) and 1970 after the AFL-NFL merger. The 1969 season saw Kansas City win its only Super Bowl with Robinson acting as the team's star secondary playmaker (eight picks).

Robinson also played on offense during his first two years with Kansas City and excelled, accumulating 1,870 scrimmage yards and 15 touchdowns in 28 games.

      

Kevin Mawae, C, Seattle Seahawks, New York Jets and Tennessee Titans

Highlights and Reaction

NFL @NFL

.@KevinMawae's father served 23 years in the U.S. Army. The @ProFootballHOF inductee's thank you to him is everything. ❤️ #PFHOF19 📺: @nflnetwork https://t.co/GMuBveRa14

NFL @NFL

"What other mom plays tackle football in the front yard with her sons? She hit hard." @KevinMawae gives an emotional tribute to his mom. #PFHOF19 📺: @nflnetwork https://t.co/25zyePEg6u

NFL @NFL

"Thank you for making me a better player." @KevinMawae shouts out @Patriots coach Bill Belichick for the challenges he presented during his @nyjets career. #PFHOF19 https://t.co/I3ldJQq10O

Shaun O'Hara @ShaunOHara60

My man @KevinMawae Just put on a CLINIC in his HOF speech 👏🏻 “If you ain’t Cleanin’ & you ain’t Squatting you ain’t playing in the NFL” Life in the trenches! #HOF2019

Bio

The eight-time Pro Bowler and seven-time first-team All-Pro played 16 NFL seasons for the Seattle Seahawks, New York Jets and Tennessee Titans. He started every regular-season game from 1995-2004.

His time with the Jets may be his most notable. The center helped pave lanes for Hall of Fame running back Curtis Martin, who is fifth all-time in rushing yards. The Jets also notably went 12-4 and made the AFC Championship Game during their first season with Mawae patrolling the line.

Mawae served as the NFLPA's president from 2008-2012.

       

Ed Reed, S, Baltimore Ravens, Houston Texans and New York Jets

Highlights and Reaction

NFL @NFL

It's time. Ed Reed's bust is revealed! #PFHOF19 @TwentyER 📺: @nflnetwork https://t.co/PcVQ4LCtgQ

NFL @NFL

🗣"BALTIMOOOOOOORE!" - @TwentyER #PFHOF19 @Ravens https://t.co/PgLZ0MweFG

NFL @NFL

"You're my heart, dude." This father-son moment between @TwentyER and his son is priceless. #PFHOF19 https://t.co/oP6dJ9WX8X

NFL @NFL

"I know it doesn't look like it... but I do get haircuts." - @TwentyER 😂 #PFHOF19 📺: @nflnetwork https://t.co/n4I5gDj4d5

NFL @NFL

"Stay encouraged. Encourage each other. Help somebody." You need to hear @TwentyER's powerful final message. #PFHOF19 https://t.co/Sz2fNq8iF5

John Breech @johnbreech

If there's ever a separate Hall of Fame for greatest Hall of Fame busts, Ed Reed's bust should definitely be in it. #Ravens #PFHOF19 #PFHOF2019 https://t.co/ba0pYSwLAt

Jason La Canfora @JasonLaCanfora

Ed Reed, ever thoughtful, using his platform tonight to address systemic oppression, mental illness, the plague of mass shootings

Bio

Former NFL safety Ed Reed can make a case that he's the best defensive football player this century.

Over 12 NFL seasons, Reed amassed 64 interceptions, nine defensive touchdowns and 11 forced fumbles. He also made the Pro Bowl nine times and helped the Ravens win Super Bowl XLVII.

He was a dangerous defensive back capable of delivering ferocious hits and creating turnovers for game-changing plays, and he also has a league record 107-yard interception return for a touchdown to his name.

The former University of Miami star won a national championship with the 2001 Hurricanes.

           

Pat Bowlen, Owner, Denver Broncos

Highlights and Reaction

NFL @NFL

Members of Pat Bowlen's family unveil his @ProFootballHOF bust in a powerful moment in Canton. #PFHOF19 📺: @nflnetwork https://t.co/VBTjWZVCSr

Mike Klis @MikeKlis

From intro to bust display, Pat Bowlen’s enshrinement ceremony was about 8 minutes long. The video presentation with Greek and kids was a little less than 6 minutes. It was all well done. #9sports https://t.co/zYg2pevGDJ

Bio

The Denver Broncos enjoyed tremendous success under Pat Bowlen during his tenure as the team's principal owner and CEO from 1984-2014.

Denver made six AFC championships and won two Super Bowls from 1984-1998. Furthermore, the Broncos started the 1998 season with a 13-0 record before finishing 14-2 and cruising to a Super Bowl XXXVIII title over the Atlanta Falcons.

Bowlen also delivered one of the NFL's most classic lines in recent history, shouting, "This one's for John!" after quarterback John Elway won his first Super Bowl in his 15th year with the team. Eighteen years later, Elway returned the favor by yelling, "This one's for Pat!" following Denver's Super Bowl L victory.

Per Andrew Beaton of the Wall Street Journal, Bowlen was also an instrumental force for the advent of Sunday Night Football, which has been the No. 1 prime-time show for eight straight years.

        

Ty Law, CB, New England Patriots and New York Jets

Highlights and Reaction

NFL @NFL

.@OfficialTyLaw dancing his way to his bust! 🙌 @ProFootballHOF | #PFHOF19 https://t.co/mpfhUYSOJv

NFL @NFL

"We bent but never broke... I'll always be your little boy." For @OfficialTyLaw, the @ProFootballHOF is family business. #PFHOF19 https://t.co/jiySl35o4S

NFL @NFL

Ty Law grew up idolizing his uncle @Tony_Dorsett. Now, they're teammates in the @ProFootballHOF. #PFHOF19 @OfficialTyLaw https://t.co/3c2IgQd61b

Mike Reiss @MikeReiss

Pure emotion. Gratitude. Humor. Tears. Togetherness. Belief in self. From the heart. A lengthy, passionate Pro Football Hall of Fame induction speech that was authentic Ty Law.

Bio

Former cornerback Ty Law is most known for a Super Bowl XXXVI pick-six that helped spring the New England Patriots' massive upset over the St. Louis Rams and kick-start a dynasty.

However, Law did far more than that during his career, picking off 53 passes, amassing 169 pass deflections and making five Pro Bowls. The two-time first-team All-Pro won three Super Bowls with the Pats and also landed on the NFL's 2000s All-Decade Team.

      

Champ Bailey, CB, Denver Broncos and Washington Redskins

Highlights and Reaction

Bailey's ending was profound and impactful; Nicki Jhabvala of The Athletic offered a transcription:

Nicki Jhabvala @NickiJhabvala

Amid tears, @champbailey closed his Hall of Fame enshrinement speech with an incredibly powerful message about racism. Encourage everyone to read this: https://t.co/Vbci4YA8bj

He also offered more notable moments in his half-hour speech:

NFL @NFL

Straight from the heart. @ChampBailey pays tribute to fellow @ProFootballHOF inductee Pat Bowlen. #PFHOF19 📺: @nflnetwork https://t.co/gG90i0xmzp

Denver Broncos @Broncos

“The best thing for my career happened in 2004. I was traded to the Denver Broncos." 😎 @champbailey | #PFHOF19 https://t.co/bYSdpPGNga

Troy Renck @TroyRenck

#Broncos @champbailey delivers passionate words about being a black man. “Understand this, things that make us great on the field — our size and aggression — can get us killed off it.” #Denver7

Jason La Canfora @JasonLaCanfora

Champ Bailey speaking to racism and hatred towards African American men, urging others to listen to their fears and concerns. Powerful, real message.

Bio

The 12-time Pro Bowler was a ball hawk who snatched 52 interceptions, including 10 during the 2006 season. A three-time first-team All-Pro, you can argue no defensive player was more dominant during the mid-2000s. In 2005 and 2006, Bailey picked off 18 passes total, including three pick-sixes. He also had a career-high 85 tackles in 2006.

A starter from Day 1, Bailey played five seasons for the Washington Redskins after being named a Consensus All-American at Georgia in 1998. The 'Skins traded him to the Broncos, where he finished his 15-year career.

      

Tony Gonzalez, TE, Kansas City Chiefs and Atlanta Falcons

Highlights and Reaction

NFL @NFL

Respect to @Chiefs Kingdom. @TonyGonzalez88 tells the story of the first time playing in Kansas City as an opponent. #PFHOF19 https://t.co/JstQtl7nKJ

Kansas City Chiefs @Chiefs

We love you, @TonyGonzalez88! #PFHOF19 | #ChiefsKingdom https://t.co/BBlNRekg0I

Kelsey Conway @FalconsKelsey

Tony Gonzalez’s grandma is 101 years old and in the front row and rocking it. That’s awesome.

Jason La Canfora @JasonLaCanfora

Tony Gonzalez sharing how he overcame fear and bullying as a young man. Another impactful Hall of Fame speach

Bio

Tony Gonzalez missed one game during a 17-year career with the Kansas City Chiefs and Atlanta Falcons, and he caught 83 passes for 859 yards and eight touchdowns as a 37-year-old in his last NFL season.

Gonzalez's list of accolades can stretch for paragraphs on end, but his durability and longevity were arguably his most notable traits. He was a dangerous receiving threat in the 1990s, 2000s and 2010s and remained productive all the way through.

Gonzalez finished his NFL career with 1,325 receptions, 15,127 receiving yards and 111 touchdowns. He made 14 Pro Bowls and 10 All-Pro teams and is No. 1 among tight ends in receiving yards, scores and receptions.