Former GM Bill Polian opened his speech by thanking Roger Goodell. And was booed. Otherwise, an upbeat and comprehensive speech out of the NFL legend responsible for Peyton Mannings' entrance into the NFL as the first overall pick in the 1998 NFL draft. Polian encountered innumerable legends in his lengthy, impactful career. "We never doubted for a minute that through the heartache and heartbreak we would win a Lombardi trophy," said Polian during his speech in which he "looked forward to" the enshrinement of Colts coach Tony Dungy.
Raiders WR Tim Brown. Who knew his high school record was 4-25-1. And, also surprising, he was very thankful to the Hager family- the Hager family of clothing fame. The ones who manufactured the HoF gold jackets. Apparently, they have done a lot for him. Brown warned the crowd that he had preacher-tedencies. While he wasn't in full preacher-mode, such tendencies were definitely evident. Moving moments included his shout-out to "the great Lou Holz" who believed in him more than he believed in himself. "The things he instilled in me make me a better man," he said.
San Diego Chargers LB Junior Seau. One of the more controversial topics going into the draft was the NFL's decision to prohibit the daughter of the late Junior Seau to speak on his behalf at the ceremony. The legendary linebacker died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest in May 2012. The NFL ended up reversing their decision, perhaps because of public outcry. Prevening Sydney Seau from speaking does not change the reality facing many NFL players. Former Giants LB and Hall of Famer Harry Carson said, "I'm kind of surprised we don't have more Junior Seaus, and quite frankly, there were other players who committed suicide."
Junior Seau's induction started with a tearful moment of silence and retrospective video. Then his daughter Sydney was joined by her brothers to unveil his bust, which generated a painfully tearful response from Seau's mother. Sydney kept her composure as she spoke on her father's behalf in interview format, highlighting both his contributions to the sport and to the community through his foundation. "You gave us your heart," Syndey said. "You are light, and I want nothing more than to see you come on stage and give the speech you were meant to give and give me a hug one last time."