Expressing my thanks (regret)
Greetings from the Hall of Fame City! Just wanted to take a minute to thank you for sending me to Sunday's Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremony. I feel pretty darn fortunate to have shared in one of the greatest days of John Elway's life.
In fact, it was so much fun, I was hoping that maybe one day I could cover Art Modell's induction ceremony. Or a reunion of the 1997 Marlins. Or maybe I could just save time and stab myself in the eye with a pencil, then write about it. It would save money and be just as much fun.
As you know, my first season as a sports fan was 1986, when I fell in love with one of the best Browns teams in history, only to watch Elway lead the (lying, cheating, referee-paying) Broncos to victory with a 98-yard touchdown drive, followed by an overtime field goal that was (mere feet from actually being) good.
Now, you might think that because of that year, and the next three years, that I don't like Elway.
And you'd be (the opposite of) wrong.
I think he's one of the nicest (Yanni-loving, handicap space-parking, cousin-dating) quarterbacks I've ever met. In fact, of all the quarterbacks in NFL history, he had one of the strongest arms (and one of the biggest sets of horse teeth) I've ever seen.
In the past
And besides, it's been 15 years since all that stuff happened.
I'm so over it.
Don't think so? Well, just take this letter as an example. If I wanted to be immature, petty and childish, I might take a few cheap shots at Elway, writing things like:
UJohn Elway wets the bed.
UJohn Elway kicks little dogs.
UJohn Elway sells drugs to school children.
But I'm not going to stoop to that level. Those comments would be unprofessional and possibly inaccurate.
I'm also not going to make fun of the thousands of (front-running, welfare-abusing, redneck-loving) Broncos fans who traveled to Canton this past weekend to celebrate the induction of the first (and hopefully last) Denver player into the Hall of Fame.
In fact, I thought they were inspiring. (It's not often you see that many family members gathered in one place.)
Some of the more memorable fans included a man wearing an orange and blue cape (to cover up the strait jacket), a woman wearing a giant, Bronco-shaped hat (to cover up the horns) and, of course, a shirtless man wearing a large orange barrel (to cover up his giant tattoos of Barbara Streisand).
The reason they dressed that way was because they're passionate. They're loyal. (And they were just following orders from the voices beamed down to the steel plates in their heads.)
The ceremony itself was especially amazing.
His daughter, Jessica, gave such a touching introduction that I found myself (almost) regretting my wish that he would trip on the way over and impale himself on the podium microphone.
Even Elway's speech was touching. He nearly broke down crying in a few spots (because he's such a big sissy and) because of the overwhelming emotion involved (in being such a crybaby).
One quote, in particular, impressed me.
"As NFL players go, I was truly one of the lucky ones," he said. "I got to play in the greatest football town in America."
I thought that was awful nice of him to say. Especially since he didn't play that many games in Cleveland.
Despite living most of my life in Stark County, this was my first induction ceremony. Needless to say, it was quite a treat.
It was especially amazing to see Elway. As someone who's been a football fan his whole life, I'll never forget what it was like to see Elway in his prime. (The jerks running ESPN Classic won't let me.)
I feel (un)lucky to have been here.
Thanks again, Boss.
(P.S. I hope you catch malaria.)
XJoe Scalzo is a sports writer for The Vindicator. Write him at firstname.lastname@example.org.