The Pro Football Hall of Fame will induct seven new members at its annual ceremony next weekend, as Michael Strahan, Andre Reed, Walter Jones, Derrick Brooks, Aeneas Williams, Claude Humphrey and Ray Guy represent the 2014 class.
The induction is Saturday, Aug. 2.
“We’re excited about this,” Pro Football Hall of Fame President David Baker said on The Doug Gottlieb Show. “We think that this is a great class of character. We’ve obviously got the first punter in the history of the Hall in Ray Guy going in, and then we’re going to kick off the 95th season of the NFL with the Buffalo Bills and the New York Giants (in the Hall of Fame Game), so it’s going to be an exciting time.”
The weekend begins with the Gold Jacket Dinner on Friday, Aug. 1, as nearly 80 Hall of Famers will return to Canton to welcome the Hall’s newest members. More than 4,500 people will be in attendance, and each member of this year’s class will receive a gold jacket.
“It’s a great event,” Baker said.
As for Saturday, Baker has no doubt that the seven new inductees will provide some memorable speeches. Which one will be the best, however, is hard to pinpoint.
“I got to tell you, I think that’s going to be an interesting one,” Baker said. “Right after the Super Bowl, we had our orientation with these guys. In one room, they got measured for their bust, in another room they got measured for the ring (and) in another room they got measured for the gold jacket. And in another room, we had a private dinner – with just maybe about 20 of us – and we asked these guys to share something about their life that we wouldn’t know. And what was fascinating was they did not share about football or championships.”
Reed, for example, talked about his father’s death, while Jones discussed the fact that he never knew his father and that his only goal in life was to be a full-time father to his son. Brooks, on the other hand, said that he wanted to use his gold jacket and Hall of Fame induction as a platform to do good and help others.
“These guys talked about the people in their life that made a difference,” Baker said. “I don’t think you see that in too many other places in sports.”
The weekend concludes with the Hall of Fame Game, which is slated for Sunday, Aug. 3, at Fawcett Field at 8 p.m. ET.
“It’s like an NFL game (in) a stadium (with) 23,000 fans,” Baker said. “It is compressed, and you are up close and personal. But you’re going to see Sammy Watkins out there. You’re going to see a lot of rookies getting time. I think it’s going to be a very special game in some respects considering, for instance, we’ll have Jim Kelly there. This is (also) the first Bills game since Ralph Wilson passed away. So it’s kind of passing the torch to a new generation as the NFL starts its 95th season.”