Lewis highlights strong Hall class
Canton, Ohio — One of the great leaders football has seen, Ray Lewis used his Pro Football Hall of Fame induction speech to call for more enlightened leadership in the United States.
The last of the seven members of the class of 2018 on hand to be enshrined, Lewis eschewed notes and the lectern, instead strolling along the stage and passionately urging his listeners to come together.
“Are you living every day to make this world better?” Lewis asked Saturday night at the end of his 33minute oratory, often invoking the teachings of Martin Luther King. “Think what we can do if we work together as a country … teaching our nation to love each other again.”
Lewis was joined by Randy Moss, Brian Dawkins, Brian Urlacher, Jerry Kramer, Robert Brazile and Bobby Beathard as inductees at the hall ceremony.
One of the best linebackers in NFL history, Lewis won two Super Bowls with the Ravens and was a twotime Defensive Player of the Year.
Dawkins also delivered a powerful speech and, as he promised, cried during it.
“The majority of success I have had has come on the back end of pain,” he said noting he had suicidal thoughts when he battled depression. “On the other side of it, all of a sudden I became better. There’s a purpose for my pain.”
Dawkins was the leader of an Eagles defense that made four straight NFC championship games and one Super Bowl. Voted to the 2000s NFL All-Decade Team and a five-time All-Pro, Dawkins intercepted passes in 15 seasons and had 37 picks overall.
Urlacher became a record-28th Chicago Bear inducted into the hall. A first-year nominee who filled the tradition of great middle linebackers in the Windy City so brilliantly, Urlacher actually was a safety at New Mexico. Chicago selected him ninth overall in the 2000 draft and immediately converted
him to linebacker.
Another first-year nominee, Moss brought the perfect combination of height, speed, soft hands and agility to Minnesota as the 21st overall draft pick in 1998 after a rocky college career. He also caught a record 23 TD passes from Tom Brady in New England’s perfect 2007 regular season.
Terrell Owens declined to attend. Instead, he held his own celebration at his college in Chattanooga, Tenn. He was shown in a video and his photo was hanging in Tom Benson Stadium. Otherwise, T.O. was MIA.
In a lengthy and humorous speech, Kramer brought the crowd back to the Lombardi Era. A senior committee nominee, Kramer became eligible in 1974 after 11 seasons with the Packers in which he won five NFL championships and two Super Bowls.
Brazile, known as Dr. Doom when he played in all 147 games for the Houston Oilers in his 10-year NFL career, spoke of how he and Walter Payton made history by being selected in the first round of the same draft from a historically black college.
Beathard won four Super Bowls as a team executive and drafted four Hall of Famers.
The 2018 Class of the Pro Football Hall of Fame included (from left) Brian Dawkins, Robert Brazile, Bobby Beathard, Jerry Kramer, Randy Moss, Ray Lewis, and Brian Urlacher.