Aug. 12, 2002
“I would like to first give thanks to the Hall of Fame for this prestigious honor. I stand before you a prime example of what football can do for many people. I’m here because of the foundation that was given to me a long, long time ago. I started as a little country boy from the small country town of Sumter, South Carolina. I never really dreamed that something like this could happen to me. I was just tickled to death to be able to play football. It was something I enjoyed doing and it has always a part of my life. Coming from a small school in Sumter and to be given the opportunity to go to college was something that I wanted to do.
“To be able to go on and continue to play athletics, especially football, was great. I was given the opportunity to go to, in my opinion, one of the greatest universities in the nation in Clemson University. They offered me a scholarship and I was so proud that I chose to go there because it was a continuous learning experience for me.
“The foundation that was given to me in high school was enhanced at Clemson. The people that I met at Clemson will always be there for me, no matter what I’m doing in life. No matter where I’m going or what I’m doing in life, they will always be there to try and support me. These are things that have helped me through my life. These are the things that I remember and they have added to my foundation and made me the person I am today.
“Clemson gave me an opportunity to play football and I’ve met a lot of people through the game because it truly is a wonderful sport. I’d like to think that you gain from the experiences that you have from college, and through all the great people you meet in football. Fortunately, there are people from the Clemson teams when I played that I still stay in contact with today.
“After college, I went on to play with the New York Giants. That only further enhanced my foundation that was expanded at Clemson. I was fortunate to go to an organization that had some terrific players, some class individuals. For myself, I’ve never been a big talker. I kind of followed by example. But you all need people in life that you can look up to that can keep you on a straight and narrow path, give you encouragement and help you as a person.
“I was fortunate enough to go to a team that had guys such as Harry Carson and Brad Van Pelt (two other Hall of Fame members inducted this day). Those guys were already there when I was a rookie. Harry and I had a conversation when I first went to the Giants. He told me we were going to have fun, and we did. So people like that tremendously helped me be a part of the team, and that’s what it’s about.
“Regardless of what you’re doing in life, those experiences and those people I’ve met through college football have made me what I am today. For me to be standing here before you today, being inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame, is something that I never imagined would have happened to me. But I’m here and this is probably the greatest gift that anyone could possibly give me. All I ever wanted to do was play football, just play the game.
“I’ve had some great coaches, great people to back me to get me to this point in my life. I’d like to thank all the coaches, all my friends and family. I want to especially thank my mother, who has always been my biggest fan and greatest supporter. Again I thank the Foundation for giving me this opportunity to be a part of this family. We all would like something like this to leave behind. I would like to say this is probably the greatest thing to ever happen to me, and again I thank you.”
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