The Steelers will have a huge presence in Canton, Ohio later this summer, with Bill Cowher, Troy Polamalu and Donnie Shell being enshrined as members of the Class of 2020 on Aug. 7, and Alan Faneca as a member of the Class of 2021 on Aug. 8. In addition, Bill Nunn was enshrined in April as a member of the Class of 2021 and will be recognized during the ceremony as well. Leading up to the enshrinement, we will feature some Hall of Fame stories and moments as part of the Countdown to Canton. Today we look at some Hall of Fame speech highlights.
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Hall of Fame Class of 1990
With chants of "Here We Go Steelers, Here We Go" from the Steelers faithful at the Hall of Fame in Canton, Jack Lambert told them, "Thank you, let's get this done."
With that, they were silent, and Lambert began his speech, thanking those who made a difference in his life and career, including the coaches who meant the most to him. He also talked about what a special place Pittsburgh was and how much he loved playing for the Steelers.
"On the day I retired from pro ball, I made this statement; 'There is not an owner, or a team, or a coaching staff, or people in a city that I would rather have played for in the entire world,'" said Lambert in his speech. "The kindness that Arthur J. Rooney and his family have shown me over the years -- and the kindness that the people of Pittsburgh have shown me over the years -- are the kindnesses that I can never repay. Five years later, I appreciate and stand by these words even more.
"I was so fortunate to have played on some of the greatest teams of all time and arguably the greatest defense ever assembled. And finally, how fortunate I was to play for the Pittsburgh fans... a proud and hard-working people who love their football and their players.
"If I could start my life all over again, I would be a professional football player, and you damn well better believe I would be a Pittsburgh Steeler!"
Hall of Fame Class of 1987
When Joe Greene stood on the steps of the Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, with former Coach Chuck Noll as his presenter, his love for the Steelers fans shown through.
His words were so strong, so powerful, they are still played at Heinz Field to this day. And every time they are played, the Terrible Towels still wave and the crowd goes crazy.
"In Pittsburgh, if you are not at the stadium at 1:00 on Sunday in the fall, you are at the wrong place," Greene said in his speech. "They are always there. Without the fans it is something different and we certainly appreciate and love you for that. And you have impacted my life because you are important."
Hall of Fame Class of 1997
When Mike Webster selected Terry Bradshaw as his Hall of Fame presenter, he knew to expect the unexpected.
After all, when Bradshaw himself was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, he talked about what it would mean to him to take one last snap from Webster, his former center.
"I just didn't get any center. I got the best to ever play the game, to ever put his hands on a football," said Bradshaw. "Oh, what I would give to put my hands under Mike Webster's butt one more time."
So, on the day Webster was inducted, Bradshaw pulled a football from underneath the podium and as the moment happened, Steelers fans, fellow Hall of Famers, and everyone in Canton erupted. Bradshaw took one last snap from Webster.
Steelers President and Chairman
Hall of Fame Class of 2000
When late Steelers Chairman Dan Rooney was selected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, he chose one of his Hall of Fame players, Joe Greene, to be his presenter.
And Greene spoke glowingly about the man who he was always close to.
"When I was a young player, Dan often had to steer me in the right direction," said Greene. "In my youthful exuberance to win, I was in everybody's business. I was always attempting to tell the coaches what plays to call and telling the players how to play the game. I even had the nerve to tell Dan he needed to get a player signed.
"Whenever I've had a special occasion in my life, the times you want your friends to share, Dan or a member of his family has been there. That means an awful lot. Dan has not only exhibited kindness towards me but has followed in his father's footsteps. All the Steelers players are a part of his family. I am most honored and proud to represent the Rooney family, the Steelers organization, all the former players and coaches, the City of Pittsburgh, and the fans presenting our boss and our friend to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Dan Rooney."
Rooney then did what he always does when he deflected credit away from himself and put it on to others.
"The players and coaches made the Steelers, and I attribute my presence here today to all of them and to my father," said Rooney in his speech. "My father (Art Rooney Sr.), one of the early men who did everything to make the NFL succeed, it is special to join him here. He gave me the understanding of what the league meant. He gave me the commitment to do everything possible to keep it strong and viable."