HALL OF FAME NOTEBOOK | From Canton
Buffalo pride: Jim Kelly seemed to be everywhere at the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday. "There were 100,000 people at the parade today," said former NFL coach and broadcaster John Madden, "and 50,000 were in No. 12 blue jerseys." It only seemed that way as thousands of Buffalo fans, and about 1,200 of Kelly's invited guests, invaded Northeast Ohio to see the former Bills quarterback inducted into the Hall. A record crowd of 17,700 -- more than half of them Bills fans -- attended the ceremony in Fawcett Stadium, which for nearly three hours was transformed into Buffalo's Ralph Wilson Stadium by the red, white and blue-wearing Buffalonians. More than 150 buses rolled in from upstate New York, and the "Let's Go, Buffalo" and "Kel-ly, Kel-ly" chants started about two hours before the ceremony kicked off. "I feel like I'm in Buffalo," said Bills center Kent Hull. "Look at this." Kelly's guest list more than tripled the previous record high set by Mike Munchak, who had 400 guests for his enshrinement last year. "I wanted everyone I knew to be here," Kelly said at a morning news conference. They were. Kelly said he began putting his list together with the names of his Pee Wee football coaches. "And just went from there," said Kelly, who has five brothers. Kelly's family and friends took up most of the chairs on the left side in front of the stage, and No. 12 jerseys were scattered throughout the stadium.
Hail to the Redskins: Dozens of George Allen's former players -- Bears, Rams and Redskins -- came to Canton to see their legendary coach enshrined. Washington's Over-the-Hill Gang of the 1970s was represented by quarterback Billy Kilmer, defensive tackle Diron Talbert, linebacker Jack Pardee, wide receiver Charley Taylor, safety Ken Houston and others. On Friday night, Talbert went on stage with a harmonica at a nearby hotel bar and joined a cover band for an impromptu version of "Hail to the Redskins." "This day is for every one of the players on all the teams my father coached," said Allen's son, Sen. George Allen Jr. R-Virginia, who accepted on behalf of his late dad. "His players stuck together and they had fun."
Speech impediment: The Hall of Fame asks the enshrinees to limit their induction speeches to seven minutes. "It's not enough time," Dan Hampton said. Hampton, who had been preparing his remarks for months, said the Hall sent a tape of last year's ceremony to each of the inductees so they would know what to expect. Before making his speech, Hampton said he was worried about leaving someone out. "It's almost impossible to remember everybody and impossible to do them justice to all the people who helped me get here," he said. "This is the last team you'll ever make."
Who's next?: Each year the induction ceremony is a chance for players to openly campaign for others they feel are worthy of the Hall. Jim Kelly has a longshot: Steve Tasker. Tasker was a special teams dynamo for the Buffalo Bills, and Kelly thinks he should be recognized. "He was the greatest special teams player of all-time," Kelly said. "If you asked every special teams coach in the league who ever played against him, he'd be a shoo-in. I wanted the guy as my receiver, and the coaches wouldn't let me have him. He was the ultimate team player." John Stallworth is now the ninth member of Pittsburgh's Super Bowl-winning teams to be immortalized, joining Mel Blount, Terry Bradshaw, Joe Greene, Jack Ham, Franco Harris, Jack Lambert, Lynn Swann and Mike Webster. He thinks at least two more belong in Canton. "L.C. Greenwood and Donnie Shell are worthy," Stallworth said.
Dancing Bears: With Mike Singletary, Richard Dent, and newly enshrined Hall of Famer Dan Hampton, the 1985 Chicago Bears are recognized as one of the NFL's best defenses. They overpowered teams en route to winning the Super Bowl, making some enemies along the way. The Bears gained some notoriety that season by filming a video, "The Super Bowl Shuffle," long before they beat New England in the Super Bowl. Hampton was the only player not to appear in the video, and to this day, he says he didn't because he thought the Bears were being too cocky. Not true, said Singletary. "Dan can't dance," the linebacker said.