Deion Sanders managed to thank 109 people in the speech he gave at his induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday night. He also put a do-rag on a bronze bust that looked nothing like him. Shannon Sharpe moved people to tears and omitted Mike Shanahan in a speech that may be the best ever given at a Hall of Fame induction. Chris Hanburger revealed that he’s a funny, modest hero to a new generation of fans. Steve Sabol’s introduction of his dad, Ed, showed exactly why NFL Films is so great. Richard Dent’s was downright perplexing.
Dent, the Chicago Bears’ linebacker, did not mention either Coach Mike Ditka or defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan. The omission, Dent said Monday, was not an oversight. Nor did he intend it as a slight.
“You've got to understand that this is all about people that touched you, that shaped you as a young man,” Dent said Monday on “The Waddle & Silvy Show” on ESPN Radio. “Buddy and Mike got me as a finished product. This is not about football. This is about life. This is about who helps you in life and to help you fulfill some of your dreams. That's what it's about.”
Most of the people Dent thanked were from his childhood and Tennessee State days. Indeed, his former coach, Joe Gilliam Sr., presented him for induction. “It's not about people. It's not about Buddy Ryan and Mike Ditka,” Dent said. “It's about people that touched you in your life, the people that dealt with me real early, and it was Miss Knight and Miss Payton.”Both women were from his neighborhood; Payton gave him his first job and Knight “looked out for me.”
Dent admitted to a few accidental omissions. “I missed a guy, [former Bears linebacker] Otis Wilson, who I'm hurting about now,” Dent said. “Otis was one of the first guys when I got there with Jim Osbourne — some people who kind of help you and teach you what was taking place. Brian McCaskey was another guy I wanted to talk about.”