AUBREY BRUCE WITH DAN ROONEY (Photo by Thomas Sabol)
This weekend I attended the annual NFL Fall-of-Fame game in Canton, Ohio. I have lost count of how many of these “skirmishes” that I have witnessed but this particular “celebration of greatness” was a lot more personal to me.
I was humbled because I sat with the fans and watched the game from Section 15, Row RR and believe me it wasn’t my choice to view the game seated among the “common folk” (laugh) but that is what happens at the last minute when one decides to cover the game and no press box credentials are available. (I did receive a post-game locker room credential which to me is another story but I will get to that before I conclude this column.)
I would like to begin by providing to you some of the more memorable quotes from a few of the 2013 inductees (not all of them are going to make this column). Here are their names; Larry Allen, Cris Carter, Curley Culp, Jonathan Ogden , Bill Parcells, Dave Robinson and finally Warren Sapp.
Let’s begin with the colorful and sometimes controversial former Tampa Bay Bucs’ and Oakland Raiders defensive lineman Warren Sapp. “Being the last of 12 that Henrietta Bruce carried around for 9 months, I am surprised that I even made it to the delivery room,” Sapp said. (I, myself, was a seven month baby born in 1953 which in itself is a miracle of survival.) “Being the baby of six kids, you get treated real bad, even by your sisters (laughing). Lisa, you were my protector, my rock. Whenever I need you, baby, you were steady, ready and willing. I love you. Lisa, you were my protector, you taught me how to love and you taught me to fight like hell, and I love you, baby. Punchy, you showed me what another sport was. I still hate baseball (laughing). Arnell, you’re not here with me tonight, and I know you’re at home right now. But you were my first superstar. I watched you run for 348 yards and five touchdowns in a high school football game, and then I went out on the playing field and watched my friend grab a football and say, I’m Arnell Lykes, and we all stopped and said you can’t be Sapp’s brother.”
My superstar was Stan (the man) Bruce who purchased my first football from the proceeds from his job at the Davidow factory in the Strip District of Pittsburgh. I have covered the Baltimore Ravens since their late owner Art Modell decided one day at the crack of dusk to give up the catfish of Cleveland and go for the crab cakes of Baltimore. Ogden was the first pick of the Ravens and they really “done good” when they chose him to be the cornerstone of their organization.