08-05-2012, 03:45 PM
One of the most emotional aspects of any Pro Football Hall of Fame enshrinement speech happens when a former NFL great receives his ticket to immortality and thanks those who were most important to his development along the way -- specifically, the parents who taught him the best way to success. For most of the six members of the 2012 HoF class, that was very much the case, and it was a great scene to see the parents of Cortez Kennedy, Willie Roaf, and others, beaming up at the stage as their sons remembered just how important they were in the development of great football players -- and quality human beings. Former Seattle Seahawks defensive tackle Cortez Kennedy had the crowd rolling with laughter at his stories of mother and father. "To my dad, Joe Harris, you've always been a great balancing factor in my life," Kennedy said.*" I can remember not doing my chores right, cutting the yard.* I didn't cut the yard right, and you made me cut the grass at 5:00 a.m. in the dark.* You said, 'Do it right the first time, and you won't have to do it again.'* I got the point.* Don't take the shortcut.*But since I'm older, if I would have cut it right in the daytime, what the heck am I going to do in the nighttime?* I'm just throwing that out there right now. That don't seem right to me." Once the laughter died down, "Tez" remembered that his mother was even more formidable. "I'll never forget when you made me quit football my sophomore year for having bad grades," he said.*"Do you remember that?* My high school football team went to the State Championship.* My mom sent me a postcard saying, 'Wishing you were here.'* I tell you what, that was a turning point in my life, because you know how much I love football.* But when you sent me that postcard, it said you wanted me there, you should have took me there.* But I understand.* You care about me as a son more than a football player.* I love you so much. Willie Roaf's father, a dignified man who inducted his son into the Hall, was remembered with emotion and pride. "You know, my dad always found time to be a part of my life," the former New Orleans Saints and Kansas City Chiefs great said. "A successful dentist with a busy schedule, he drove from Pine Bluff, Arkansas, to every one of my home games in college and my pro career.* He only missed one game, and that's because my brother had another game in St. Louis at the same time.* He put a lot of miles on his cars, and he didn't sell them.* He would overhaul them and get a new motor most of the time.* So he put another hundred thousand miles on it when he got done with that hundred." Curtis Martin, whose family circumstances were more complicated through his youth than could be said of most people, put together a stunning speech in which he revealed the details of a dangerous and tragic childhood.