Deion Sanders isn't the only player with Georgia connections being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in the 2011 class. Chicago Bears DE Richard Dent is a native Atlantan who played at Murphy High before going on to Tennessee State. Saturday night during his induction speech, he made several mentions of Georgia and looking up to Falcons greats Claude Humphrey and Tommy Nobis.
Here's a quick transcript of Dent's speech (I missed some of his personal thank yous to non-famous people, but got most of it!):
Thank you, thank you, thank you. You know, I grew up in a town where a man said, "I have a dream." And that man was Martin Luther King. And as a kid, growing up, all I could do was dream.
I wanted to be someone special that my family could look up to. I wanted to be someone that I enjoyed, playing the game. I enjoyed working and taking care of myself and my siblings. [Joke about having to share with so many siblings.] My dad would tell me, "A burger is only gonna last for a second."
Richard Dent went to work and tried to find himself. Never in my wildest dream did I think I would wind up here. It's all about other people. None of us can get anywhere by ourselves. I had a friend named Scott Dean who gave up the band to help me pursue my dream. I had a young lady by the name of Miss Payton who used to let me hang out in her store and gave me a job since she knew I was taking things. She gave me something to look forward to.
There's another lady by the name of Miss Knight. You took care of my mother, ironed clothes, raised people in my community. I appreciate your love, Miss Knight, and I appreciate you coming here to celebrate this with us.
Also, a guy by the name of William Lester. I know that he wanted to leave the state of Georgia. When I grew up, I used to watch Claude Humphrey, Tommy Nobis, Hank Aaron and Muhammad Ali. I didn't know I was gonna go to Tennessee State, but Claude was vicious. I took a little piece of Claude and Muhammad Ali and said, "I'm gonna go raise some hell."
Coach Lester dropped me off at Tennessee State. Before you know it, I was working at Sunbeam Bread and doing summer school. That was important to me that I'd actually moved out of the neighborhood. Coach Lester drove me, two years in a row. I didn't want to transfer. I came in the game late. William Lester, he died a few years ago, but if it wasn't for him I wouldn't be here and I'd never have gotten to Chicago.
Being the first guy out of Atlanta public schools into the Hall of Fame, I just couldn't believe out of 100 and something years that one could do such a thing. But that's what took place.
I love my Tennessee State people. You shape me. I appreciate the band coming out. There was nothing like going to Big Blue. All the guys that I played with there. I appreciate you guys coming out. [Lists Tennessee State football coach Joe Gilliam's many achievements over the past many decades.]
There's two other guys that I should say I stand on their shoulders. That's Claude Humphrey and "Too Tall" Jones. There wouldn't be no me without you.
I'd like that '85 team to stand up. I know we got that 1985 Chicago team. Stand up. [Thanks list of Bears players.] Steve McMichael, I hope to see you up here sometime. Most important of all, was a guy named Jimbo Covert. Me and Jimbo, we pushed each other. Walter was great for a long time. [Thanks position coaches and strength coaches.]
When I came in the league, I was 220 pounds with bad teeth. [Story about correcting said issues.]
I'd love to thank the Chicago fans and the people in Chicago. That's where the game started. Not a better place to play. It means to much to play where Walter Payton and Dick Butkus played. Thank the 49ers, Eagles and Colts also for giving me a chance to play with those folks.
Dad, I know you're sitting there. Thank you, Dad. You taught me some things about hard work. I used to buff a lot of floors with you. I'm just glad that you didn't allow me to go to jail with you that day when we went fishing and you didn't have a license. Guy told you to follow him and we went another route. Who knows what would've happened in Covington, Georgia.
I'm a mama's boy. I wish my mother was here. [Thanks brothers and sisters.] You guys had that band in the '60s. Everybody wanted to be the next Michael Jackson. It didn't happen.
My two daughters and my son, I love you to death. You guys got this legacy. Look forward to you guys taking on the Make A Dent Foundation.
I tell kids, when you think of me, think of the first letter in my name. D is Dream. When you dream, you have to get up and do something about it. The letter E: you have to be educated. The letter N: you represent your name, your team, where you came from. The letter T is: when you get knocked down, you gotta get back up and try again.
I took those four letters and I was destined to make something of myself that my community, friends and loved ones could appreciate.
[Thanks friends and family who've passed away, including former Falcons and Georgia Tech WR Drew Hill and Walter Payton. Thanks HOF class.]
It's time to drop it like it's hot. [Some more thank yous.]