Sam Huff probably summed up the feelings of the four new members of the Professional Football Hall of Fame today when he said, "Today is the best day of my life."
Huff, a former linebacker with the New York Giants and player-coach with the Washington Redskins, was inducted into the Hall of Fame with Doug Atkins of the Chicago Bears, Merlin Olsen of the Los Angeles Rams and George Musso of the Bears.
"It's indescribable," said Huff. "How do you describe in five minutes the accomplishments of a lifetime?"
Huff was introduced by Tom Landry, coach of the Dallas Cowboys and a former defensive coach with the Giants. Landry described Huff as a "dedicated player and a good student of the game. He became the symbol of the new era of the defensive star."
Landry also recalled his impressions of Huff in his first training camp after leaving the University of West Virginia. "He was a babyfaced athlete with a soft body," said Landry. "He was not too impressive. But as we went along, we learned Sam was something special. He still had that soft look, but he didn't play like it."
Atkins, introduced by Bears' Vice President Ed McCaskey, said his induction was "the most memorable time of my career. In all my years, football has been good to me. It has been my life."
George Halas, owner and founder of the Bears, introduced Musso, whom he described as "a man of faith in his God, his family and himself." The ovation for Halas, 87, was bigger than that for any of the inductees.
Musso recalled that when he arrived at the Bears' training camp in 1933 he received a $5 check from Halas--$3 for train fare and $2 for incidentals.
"It was the only bonus I ever got," Musso said.
Olsen, now the star of the TV series "Father Murphy," was introduced by Tony Knap, his coach at Utah State. "How very improbable it would be to look back and plot the course that brought me here today," he said. "It's nice to share this with my friends, so many that cared I was here today."
All four inductees seemed overwhelmed by a morning parade through downtown Canton. Police estimated the crowd at 250,000.