Presented by his Tennessee State coach Joe Gilliam, Richard Dent stood at the pinnacle of the NFL: enshrinement in the Hall of Fame. Like Ed Sabol, Dent spoke of dreams. "I have a dream" Dent said, acknowledging that he grew up in Atlanta in the shadow of Martin Luther King, Jr. A son in a large family, Dent needed realized that he couldn't stay around in Atlanta for long.
His football coach, William Lester, helped him throughout his formative years and led him to Tennessee State just days after high school graduation. Without Lester, Dent said, he would not be where he is today. A large contingent of people with connections to Tennessee State came out to support Dent, but he turned that portion of his speech into a celebration of Joe Gilliam.
He thanked Ed "Too Tall Jones" and Claude Humphrey, both Tennessee State alums who went on to successful NFL careers and paved the way for Dent to make the jump to the league. He then went on to acknowledge a slew of players he practiced with and was coached by while with the Chicago Bears.
Midway through his speech, taking his sunglasses off, Dent praised his father for the life lessons he taught him. But he couldn't be on this stage without the help of his late mother, he said. As Dent said, "No one can do anything alone," looking at his children as he said that.
Having played with Walter Payton in the mid-1980s, Dent remarked that he admired the way Payton went about his business and tried to model himself on the running back. Closing out his speech, Dent congratulated his fellow Class of 2011 Hall of Famers.