The Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2013 will be enjoying an especially sweet enshrinement come the first weekend in August. Cris Carter, Bill Parcells, Warren Sapp, Jonathan Ogden, Larry Allen, Curley Culp, and Dave Robinson’s induction will be celebrated among a minimum of 108 members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame confirmed to be in attendance.
The record for the most Hall of Famers in attendance was set in 2003, the 40th Anniversary of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, with 111 in attendance. The record will most certainly be eclipsed as the enshrinement draws nearer and more NFL greats are able to commit.
The significance of 2013, is the celebration of the Hall of Fame’s 50th year in existence. It’s the Golden Anniversary of the elaborate shrine to America’s greatest pastime.
The typical turnout is about eighty members on any given year for the Enshrinement festivities.
The Oakland Raiders appear to be the leader in this year’s returning Hall of Famers. Fred Biletnikoff, Willie Brown, Dave Casper, Mike Haynes, Ted Hendricks, Howie Long, John Madden, Jim Otto, Art Shell and James Lofton have all confirmed they will be present.
The Dallas Cowboys will have a nice contingent in Canton as well. The big three of Troy Aikman, Michael Irvin, and Emmitt Smith will be in attendance to see their teammate Larry Allen enshrined alongside them. Also confirmed for the Cowboys are Mel Renfro, Jackie Smith, Roger Staubach, Randy White and Rayfield Wright.
By far the most disappointing turnout appears once again to be from the Pittsburgh Steelers. Unfortunately for fans and the NFL, this is no surprise. The greatness of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ teams during the 1970’s translated into ten Hall of Famers. Head Coach Chuck Noll and Center Mike Webster are deceased.
Of all the Steelers Hall of Famers, only “Mean” Joe Greene is a regular at the yearly enshrinement. Greene’s teammates however, seem less obliged to grace the Hall of Fame, which immortalized them, by their presence.
In 2012 we saw two more Pittsburgh Steelers enshrined in Canton, Dermontti Dawson and Jack Butler. Where was Terry Bradshaw? Who knows.
Jack Lambert, Franco Harris, Jack Ham, John Stallworth, Mel Blount, Rod Woodson, and Dick Lebeau were all no-shows. Only Greene, and Lynn Swann felt it worthwhile to welcome their fellow Steeler brothers into the Hall of Fame.
Dick Lebeau’s absence was especially disappointing considering Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin brought the entire team to Canton to witness his enshrinement.
The good news for Steelers fans is that the Hall of Fame’s Golden Anniversary will bring out a few more stars for fans to see, and if you’re lucky, greet. Mel Blount, Franco Harris, and Dermontti Dawson have all confirmed they will be present. Even Dan Rooney will be part of the fun. Joe Greene however, is the only man among the group willing to take some time for an autograph session thus far.
Still though, no Terry Bradshaw, Jack Ham, Jack Lambert, or John Stallworth. At least not yet. Their absence is the norm however, and if they don’t see this year being worthy of their time, it’s hard to imagine if it will be, ever.
The most notable Hall of Famer absent from the 2013 ceremonies is no doubt the late, great, Deacon Jones. Jones was the leader among the fraternity of men lucky enough to have a bust in Canton. Year after year he was there to welcome in the new class of Hall of Famers, and year after year he gave the same speech during the Hall of Fame members-only luncheon, discussing the impact of pro football immortalization.
Jones spoke of how fortunate they were to be respected and to have achieved such a high honor. He talked of how they were part of a special group of men now, that would look after each other and help each other when in need.
Jones viewed having a yellow jacket as being part of a brotherhood and did his best to instill that view in his peers.
I hope this year, the returning Hall of Famers are not at the enshrinement ceremony just to see a teammate get inducted. I hope they’re not there to just celebrate the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s 50th Anniversary. I hope they’re there for the NFL fans who appreciate them. More importantly though, I hope they’re there for Deacon Jones.