Eddie DeBartolo, Jerry Rice and Michael Irvin Share Comments Following Hall of Fame Ceremony

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↵Time was, the announcement of the NFL's Hall of Fame class was a quick and austere affair the day before the Super Bowl. Now, it's a dramatically executed two-hour production replete with a tension building culling of candidates.
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↵As expected, Jerry Rice and Emmitt Smith were the shoo-in headliners of this year's Hall class. Joining them are Russ Grimm, Rickey Jackson, John Randle, as well as senior committee nominees Dick LeBeau and Floyd Little. Notable snubs were Cris Carter and Charles Haley, neither of whom were among the last 10 finalists for inclusion this year.
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↵The logic of snubbing Carter was questioned during the program, seeing as how statistically Carter has as good a resume as any receiver in the Hall save only Rice himself. Steve Young made a telling quote by saying of the election process "is not [based] on merit at this point."
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↵Indeed. There are too many considerations in regards to how many players of the same position are included at the same time or whether a player is felt to not have waited long enough, rather than whether each individual is simply worthy of belonging in Canton.
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↵In person, the induction ceremony for Rice and Smith made for a curious juxtaposition of representatives from the juggernaut '90s teams. On one side of the room sat former 49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo. On the other: Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. Despite that seemingly sense touch, the proceedings were downright touching, with both Rice and Smith breaking down into tears on the stage and sharing complimentary words about the other.
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↵Both former players were particularly emotional when evoking their family during the program. Smith choked up recalling a conversation with his father:
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↵⇥"He said, 'I had the dreams of doing what you're doing. But my mother got sick and I never did go to college.' He said, 'You're living my dream. You're living MY dream.' And I all I could think about at that time is that I'm living your dream, I'm fulfilling my dream and I'm fulfilling God's purpose for me." ↵
↵Afterward, I caught up with DeBartolo and asked about his thoughts on the day, then overheard an additional anecdote from Rice about his family, followed by Michael Irvin, who served as a host for NFL Network for the event, brush off a question about the sexual assault claim filed against him this week.↵

This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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