I love how the NFL kicks off their year with the Hall of Fame induction. It's a great way to start a new season--paying respect to the players, coaches, and owners who came before to pave the way, and to remind everyone of the league's history and roots.
This year is another phenomenal class:
|Bob Hayes||WR for the Cowboys, Niners |
|Randall McDaniel||OG for the Vikings, Bucs |
|Bruce Smith||DE for the Bills, Redskins |
|Derrick Thomas||LB for the Chiefs |
|Ralph Wilson Jr.||Owner of the Bills and co-founder of the AFL |
|Rod Woodson||CB/S for the Steelers, Niners, Ravens, and Raiders|
As the resident Viking fan/apologist/critic, I'm thrilled to see McDaniel make the Hall. It almost excuses the voters for not making him a first-ballot inductee last year. But he's in, and he deserves it--he helped define the position for a decade and was synonymous with the Vikings throughout his tenure with the Purple.
The Minneapolis StarTribune ran a great article on him this past Sunday. Unfortunately, I can't link it here because it is one of the articles in the Strib's new "special offline content only for paper subscribers" business strategy. It's a great read, but I suspect many of the same stories will come out during the induction speech this weekend, so I won't dwell on the details of what a great athlete he was as a kid.
What impresses me a ton, though, is how he has transitioned out of football into "real life" as seamlessly as any player I've ever seen. He moved straight from the NFL into teaching elementary school. Power to him--if I had several million dollars in the bank from my career, that's about the last thing I'd want to do.
But not only does he do it, but he loves it and is great at it. The Strib article had a great story from when he was in college and was already helping out at local schools near Arizona State. He used to go into classrooms to read to them. The feedback he got from the kids? "Reading is for women and sissies." At least that's what he heard until he started reading to them--having a starting player from the local college football team turned some attitudes around.
I'm thrilled to see him get recognized for his on-field accomplishments, but his off-field accomplishments are the even bigger story here. Not just because of his involvement in the community, but for showing other players how to adapt to life outside the stadium.