Andre Reed won't be the only former Bill with a Gold Jacket in Canton on Aug. 2.
The seven newest members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame - Derrick Brooks, Ray Guy, Claude Humphrey, Walter Jones, Reed, Michael Strahan, and Aeneas Williams – on the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Enshrinement stage will be joined by 90 Gold Jackets (returning Hall of Famers).
Fans converging on Canton, Ohio for the 2014 Enshrinement Festival will marvel at the site of the NFL’s greatest legends as they parade out to welcome the newest class into pro football’s most exclusive club.
Reed - who will be enshirined a day before the Hall of Fame Game between the Bills and Giants - will be joined by former Buffalo greats Jim Kelly, Thurman Thomas, Bruce Smith, Marv Levy, Billy Shaw, and Joe DeLamielleure in Canton.
The roster of returning Gold Jackets also includes all-timer like quarterbacks Warren Moon, Troy Aikman, and Terry Bradshaw; running backs Gale Sayers, Emmitt Smith, and Earl Campbell; defensive tackles Joe Greene and Warren Sapp and defensive ends Jack Youngblood, and Howie Long. Other defensive stars attending include linebackers Willie Lanier, Ted Hendricks, and Harry Carson and defensive backs Mel Blount and Ken Houston.
“The only people who truly know what it feels like to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame is a Hall of Famer,” stated Lanier from the Class of 1986. “Your family, your friends, your former teammates, your owners, all can congratulate and acknowledge you but they don’t have the essence or understanding for what it felt like, the anxiety you went through, the feeling you had when your presenter’s comments ended and in that next few seconds you’re going to have to summon up all of your life into a capsule of time that might be 10 or 15 minutes. And, you’re going to have to present it to the world to be memorialized from that point forward but understanding every minute that goes by you’ll never stand there again.
“The only people who know what that feels like are the ones who’ve been there,” Lanier continued. “So, that’s why I find it compelling to be present every year.”
The list goes on and on as others planning to attend the annual celebration include such players as wide receivers Cris Carter, Paul Warfield, and Michael Irvin; tight ends Mike Ditka and Charlie Sanders as well as offensive linemen Anthony Muñoz, Forrest Gregg, Jim Otto, Dwight Stephenson, John Hannah and Randall McDaniel.
“The reason that I like to come back to the Hall every summer is just to take it all in again, to bring back those memories of when I went in,” stated McDaniel from the Class of 2009 who starred for the Minnesota Vikings (1988-1999) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2000-01). “And, to be truthful, just to listen to the stories of those old timers that (came) before me. They tell the greatest stories.”
“This is a second home for us all and it’s always great to come back,” McDaniel added.
Making his annual return to Canton will be halfback Charley Trippi, age 92, from the Hall of Fame’s Class of 1968 who starred with the Chicago Cardinals in the 1940s and ‘50s. Trippi is the second oldest living Hall of Famer behind NFL Films founder Ed Sabol, 97. On the opposite end of the spectrum is Jonathan Ogden who is the youngest member of the Hall of Fame. The Baltimore Ravens tackle, who was enshrined last summer, will celebrate his 40th birthday as he arrives in Canton Thursday, July 31 for the weekend celebration.