Orlando Pace, one of the best offensive linemen in NFL history, was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame earlier this month, and he treated fans to a wonderful speech. Pace spoke at length about his wife, his mother and his family, among others, during which he became emotional.
“Well, it’s tough,” Pace told Damon Amendolara, who was filling in as host of CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “When you’re writing it, you never know how people (will) respond. I think the toughest part to me is when I was talking about my family and my mother. To see my mother get emotional, naturally that made me emotional. I’m glad to just acknowledge those people that meant so much to me in my life.”
Pace, 40, played in the NFL from 1997 to 2009. The former No. 1 overall pick was a seven-time Pro Bowler, a three-time First Team All-Pro, a member of the NFL 2000s All-Decade team, and a Super Bowl champion. The Sandusky, Ohio, native and former Ohio State standout modeled his game after Anthony Munoz.
“Being I grew up in Ohio, I think Anthony Munoz was always a guy that (made) you say, ‘Wow, he could really play,’” Pace said of the former Bengal. “Willie Roaf was a guy that’s very young. He’s not that much older than me, but I still remember watching him. I just always watched those guys as a kid, trying to model my game after those guys, especially Anthony Munoz. He was a big part of that. (I was) just always trying to be physical and play the game, and those guys were always role models.”
Pace played 12 of his 13 NFL seasons with St. Louis and helped the Rams to a 23-16 win over the Titans in Super Bowl XXXIV. Known as “The Greatest Show on Turf,” the Rams had Kurt Warner, Marshall Faulk, Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce, among other playmakers.
“It was great,” Pace said. “For us, it was great. I loved those long touchdowns. We were always having that ‘It’s always about us’ mentality. We felt even if we were down by 21 points, with our offense, we felt like we could come back and win the game. That was just the confidence that we had in our team and our offense. We had so many skills guys on our team. It was a lot of fun playing in that offense.”
Pace hopes that Warner one day joins him in Canton.
“I do,” Pace said, when asked if he thinks Warner is a Hall of Famer. “With his body of work – two-time league MVP, to take a franchise like St. Louis and then take another franchise like Arizona to Super Bowls – I think he is. I’m a little biased because he is my quarterback, but just everything he meant to the game, what he contributed to the game, his story, everything and what he put on the field, I think he is a Hall of Famer.”
Pace, who lives in St. Louis, was sad to see the Rams leave, but he understands that’s the nature of professional sports.
“It’ll be a little different here in St. Louis, but it’s the business of the NFL,” he said. “In the same token, I’m happy for the Rams. They got the opportunity to move to L.A.”