Curtis Martin Sets The New Bar For Hall Of Fame Induction Speeches
"[It was] a brutally honest, heartfelt, and complex speech from Curtis Martin." -- Rich Eisen of the NFL Network describing Curtis Martin's Hall of Fame induction speech
You never know who'll rock your world
The appropriate response to Rich Eisen's description of Curtis Martin's Hall of Fame induction speech by anyone who saw it should be "Exactly!" But the fact of the matter is you could add riveting, inspired, and introspective to the list of adjectives and still not completely capture the essence of Martin's 25-minute tour de force on Saturday night.
Before we go any further, do yourself a favor, take a few minutes and watch the highlights of Martin's speech right now:
Up until the time Martin took the stage on Saturday night, the 2012 induction ceremony had been lacking that little extra oomph that we football fans have become so accustomed to feeling that first weekend in August. Make no mistake, in large part it had to do with a string of speeches prior to Martin's that at best I would describe as "cookie cutter," and at their worst dragged on...and on...and on (yeah, I'm looking at you Cortez Kennedy).
Perhaps it was because the Class of 2012 had the unfortunate chronological challenge of following the Deion Sanders/Shannon Sharpe Class of 2011 (a speech enthusiast's wet dream of an induction class).
Perhaps it was because 2012's group was the first class since 2001 that didn't include a first ballot Hall of Famer and consequently there was no real "main eventer" on the card Saturday evening.
Perhaps it was the fact that no member of the Class of 2011 ever played on a Super Bowl winner (only Martin and Dermontti Dawson even played in the Super Bowl during their careers, going a combined 0-2).
Whatever the reason, as Hall of Fame induction nights go, this one felt very ordinary prior to Martin's grand finale. Hell, I'll say it, for the first couple hours, it was boring. That's not meant as a slight to the inductees, it's not meant to minimize their accomplishments. Hell, it's probably more a statement about me than about them.
At one point, in the doldrums of the pre-Martin speeches, I even semi-disgustedly tweeted that the Class of 2012's speeches "reflect their relevance." To be fair, I was probably combining my boredom with the class' words with their relative lack of marquee value compared to previous classes, especially the last two (2011: Deion/Sharpe/Faulk; 2010: Emmitt/Rice). Deeming the inductees somehow "irrelevant" was probably a out of line.
(This is the part where I apologize to Greg Koch, former NFL lineman, who rightfully called me out on that tweet, and for all I know, had to be talked out of finding me and going Andre-on-Finnegan on my ass. Now, I stand by the contention that this is a significantly less decorated class, but they are inherently "relevant" if they're going into the Hall of Fame. So here's me hoping that Kochie accepts my Twitter apology, heretofore referred to as a "twapology.")
That said, I do know that, as Dawson was wrapping up what he had to say, I was wishing I'd just set my DVR, gone out and drank about ten beers, and then come home and watched the ceremonies on fast forward (with about five or six Jack in the Box tacos).