John Unitas acted with predictable poise while Dick Butkus, a strong man among very strong men, reacted with tears today at the Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremony.
Veteran observers wondered how Unitas would treat the affair. When he was first notified he had been selected for enshrinement here, he said, "Everybody's got to be someplace, I guess."
Today, Unitas received the largest ovation from hundreds watching the ceremony. He responded with a disciplined smile and a wave, and when the applause continued, he raised both hands over his head to discourage it.
The first shout of the ceremony then went up: "Throw the bomb, John?"
Unitas answered, "They must be drinking over there."
Later, he grew more reflective.
"A man never gets here without being helped, aided, shoved and pushed by somebody," he said. "I needed someone to put some sense in this stubborn Lithuanian head of mine.
"My mother pushed, shoved and moved, trying to get me to speak; she said it was like pulling teeth. My motto was when the going gets tough, the tough get going. I gave 110 percent; they always got 110 percent out of me."
Unitas' coach at the University of Louisville, Frank Gitschier, seemed to describe his protege best for the audience, judging by the response.
"With all those big men coming at him, with all the violence, he stayed in the passing pocket and ate his lunch before he threw the ball."
Butkus rarely expressed emotion as the fearsome middle linebacker of the Chicago Bears and was scarcely communicative in post-game interviews.
But today, Butkus acknowledged, "To be truthful, I dreamed of being a professional football player as far back as I can remember. I knew God gave me the physical aspects. The rest was up to me.
"I was secretly afraid I would stumble, and I did at times. I also felt there was something great in me, that nothing could stop or defeat me, if I stayed humble with all the people who helped me."
When he mentioned his father, who died when Butkus was a boy, Butkus first choked up, and then he smiled and waved to his mother.
He had to stop - he muttered "damn" at his lace of control - when he began mentioning other members of his family.... "Thank you, Helen, my wife and my best friend."
By way of gratitude for his induction, Butkus said. "I now have new goals - to be a better husband, father, and person."
Ron Mix, former offensive tackle for the San Diego Chargers and the second product of the American Football League to make the Hall of Fame, with teammate Lance Alworth, said, "I think about my mother who worked hard, with dignity, to raise a family as a divorced woman.
"I remember I had to put on 50 pounds to play in the AFL...that you make your mistakes in public, and you can't erase them.
"People have asked me if I ever regretted not signing with the Baltimore Colts (who drafted him to play in the then rival NFL). I think - would I have met my wife Pat, if I had?"
Yale Lary, and outstanding defensive back, punter and punt returner with the dominant Detroit Lions teams of the 1950s, said, "Football has been such a major part in my life, that being here today is just a dream come true." In his career he intercepted 50 passes and averaged 44.3 yards a punt.