Sports Speakers Bureau Breaks Down the Top 5 NFL Hall of Fame Induction Speeches of All Time
When you hear about genuine people and feelings at times it feels like that term is more of a figure of speech rather than an actual concept. Curtis Martin’s speech might be the most genuine display of thought and emotion every put into a speech at Canton.
His narrative begins with a few wise cracks at former teammates, but the jokes wouldn’t last too long. Transitioning from smiles, Curtis begins to speak about his lack of love for football. One of the greatest running backs of all time didn’t love football?!? As it turns out football was a fall back for Martin.
His passion on the field was fueled by a greater burning passion for his mother. The mother who was brutally abused by his father and had to deal with the scars of death for herself and her young child. He shares that he wasn’t always the quiet hard-working running back, and was probably destined for a short life on the streets if not for the pigskin that he didn’t have a fondness for. The honesty with which Martin tells these tales is chilling enough to make you look away.
You begin to realize that Martin’s life has been shaped by so much more than football, and he orates the story candidly to the audience. Without tears or sobs, Martin shares his deepest experiences and shares far more wisdom than could be placed in this brief summary. The entire audience was in tears yet Martin stood there stable, as he always had for his mother, while everybody cried for him.
Curtis Martin poured himself out on the stage with such conviction you could see why the man belonged with the legends of the game, and for him it was just another first down.
Michael Irvin was an athlete who was never short on emotion, and you wouldn’t expect his speech into the Pro Football Hall of Fame to be any different. A player who was so rambunctious and at times obnoxious in the eyes of his opponents, but his motivational speech was neither of those.
Irvin takes time to thank his mother for instilling him with his talent and guiding him as a child. He remembers his father, the man who inspired his love for football and the Dallas Cowboys, who also left him too early when Irvin was 17.
The man standing behind the podium that day in 2007 speaking honestly about himself was the same man who had been haunted by his own demons off the field. He talks bout the damage he did to his family and the others who cared about him while he put himself above all else. Michael acknowledges his flaws as a man, and his desire for his sons to listen to his guidance but not act in the same ways that he did. This was his final reception, and it was a heck of a catch.
Cris Carter is a man who was never short on charisma. Throughout his career as a player and analyst Carter has never been a man short for words and this wasn’t a problem as a keynote speaker in Canton. Cris delivered a heartfelt set of Thank You’s to the ones who brought him to where he is today.
The signature moment in the oration comes when Cris shows gratitude for his 6 brothers and sisters who guided him when his single-mother could not. The unparalleled emotion Cris shows acknowledging his childhood and lifelong hero, his older brother Bruce, is as sentimental as it gets.
The theme of Carter’s segment is that everybody who has shaped him throughout his life is being enshrined with him. The Ohio native begins and ends with a tie in to his home state, and he will forever be a member of Canton, O-H—I-O.
To say Floyd Little is an inspirational speaker is drastic understatement. His induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame came 35 years after his playing career was over. Floyd had a different approach to his speech. He’s thankful for the contributions of his parents, and has great sorrow for his two brothers that weren’t able to see him inducted.
What really sets Floyd apart from many other speakers is the inspirational message he leaves the audience with at the end of his piece. The boyhood stubbornness that plagued him as a youth turned out to be his biggest strength when striving for success. The phrase “Yes I Can” is the overarching theme, as Floyd announces it to the crowd with the confident smile that appeared on his face throughout his period on stage. With the conviction of a preacher Floyd shows that he is far more than just a retired running back or ordinary sports speaker, and he will leave his legacy behind much like his retired #44.
Possibly the most polarizing athlete during his time in the NFL, Deion Sanders did not disappoint in is Hall of Fame Enshrinement Speech. After a seemingly slow beginning, Sanders let the world into the mind of “Primetime” like many had never experienced before.
The former star talks about the embarrassment he had as a child towards his mother for being forced to labor away at hospital to support him. Sanders is ashamed that he felt this way, but it caused him to develop an alter-ego personality to bring him and his mother to the top. This was the birth of “Primetime,” which turned out to be the term that characterized the career of Deion Sanders.
Sanders continued to dissuade the public opinion of him as a selfish gloater by calling for all those watching to actually make a difference. A man who called himself “Primetime” lasting mark to the audience is to give others their time to shine.