Emmitt Smith's speech tonight was a coronation, the type of sweeping, weeping, grinning and winning performance that exemplifies Hall of Fame ceremonies at Canton.
Smith was driven to tears addressing Darryl Johnston, acknowledging the level of sacrifice Johnston went through as Smith's fullback. While it wasn't explicitly mentioned, it was clear that Smith was referring to, among other things, the neck injury that ended Johnston's career.
Smith also broke into tears as he addressed his family as a proud father and husband, and relating a story that hadn't been widely told about his father. As Smith explained, his father was also an accomplished running back in high school, but had never gotten the chance to go to college after his mother fell ill. Smith's career, then, was a chance for him to live out both his own dreams and his father's. It was an incredibly touching moment that few in attendance could have seen coming.
All in all, Smith's speech was the perfect finish to a remarkable day of Hall of Fame inductions. He had the crowd cheering on several occasions, offered the perfect level of encouragement to anybody listening, young or old, and honored everybody that helped him along the way. And for as much grief as Smith has received recently for his skills as a commentator, it must be said: Emmitt killed his speech tonight. That he did it without even bringing notes to the podium was probably the most pleasant surprise of the evening.