I’ve already written a few things about last week’s roast of Joe Gibbs to benefit the D.C. College Access Program, because I can’t get enough of the history stuff. Some of you are no doubt already sick of that topic, but whatever, I’ve got a few more coming.
One of the night’s more memorable moments came when Dexter Manley was called to the dais. Now, you know what happens at a roast: the guests tell a few stories — probably exaggerated — which poke fun of the person they’re honoring. Then they wrap up with some kind of brief tribute, in which they make clear how much they actually care for the person being recognized.
Manley wasn’t playing that game. He skipped straight to the end. Here’s the audio of his speech; a transcript follows.
“Well, I want to just say thanks for having me,” Manley said. “But I can’t roast Joe Gibbs; I can only toast Joe Gibbs. I’ve gone through the rain, the wind and the storm. In 1995, in Houston Texas, I was sitting in jail. And the sheriff called me and asked me to come into the visitor’s center. And I didn’t know who was coming. I was chained to a chair. And next thing I know, it was Joe Gibbs coming in. He kneeled down and he prayed with me. And it left a profound effect. It left a footprint in my being. So Joe Gibbs, I thank you for what you’ve done. You made a footprint in my being.”
Then Manley said thank you and went to sit down.
This all lasted about 60 seconds. There were not a ton of laugh lines. Emcee James Brown grabbed Manley on his way back to his seat and whispered in his ear. Then Brown spoke.
“I think for those of you who really do know Dexter, Dexter has got one of the biggest hearts around,” Brown said. “He is a loving man, and I thank God to see what he is today, as he’s doing all he can to pour into other lives as well. Dexter, God bless you for all you do.”
Gibbs told stories about each of the presenters. His story about Manley started with the defensive end screaming in his high-pitched voice during practices — yes, Gibbs mimicked that voice — and went on to how Manley would look to see if Gibbs was around before spouting off to the press inside the locker room, and ended with this.
“I’ve got to tell you, Dexter loved football,” Gibbs said. “He just loved it — his approach to it, the way he played it. I’ll tell you one thing about Dexter, I took him downtown with me, to talk to the kids down there in the youth home. I had Dexter get up there. And man, after about three or four minutes, he got so emotional he couldn’t even say a word. I think he cares about people. He’s bigger than life. He made a ton of plays for us. And we all appreciate Dexter.”