Pro Football Hall of Fame Inductees

Jackson Michael is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and the Maxwell Football Club and the author of The Game Before the Money (Nebraska, 2014).

How does it feel to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame? Houston Oiler Elvin Bethea shared the experience with readers in The Game before the Money: Voices of the Men Who Built the NFL. The Hall of Fame will induct Elvin’s teammate, Robert Brazile, later this week in Canton, Ohio. The following is an excerpt from the book.

From Chapter 30: Elvin Bethea

Michael-GameBeforeMoney.inddThe Monday before the Super Bowl, they sent the finalists a round trip ticket for you and your wife to go to Hawaii, to introduce you as a Hall of Famer at the Pro Bowl. All 15 of us got a letter with a first-class ticket to Hawaii to use if you were chosen. I had a whole week to look at that ticket sitting on my desk.

The afternoon of the voting, a reporter came over and asked, “Can I sit in your house and wait for the call?”

I said “No.”

My wife said, “Definitely no.”

He sat outside.

A call came. The caller ID said, “Pro Football Hall of Fame.” I picked it up and heard, “This is John Bankard. I’m head of the Hall of Fame and wanted to tell you you’re the 181st football player to go into the Hall of Fame.”

Everything that’s led up to this—all the injuries, all the 1-13s, all the training camps—all of that has come down to this and you’re saying, “I can’t believe this.”

I held that ticket and I said, “We can hold on to this ticket now. We’re going to Hawaii!”

The thrill that gives me goose bumps today is the presentation in Canton. Ah man, it gives me bumps every time I think about it. You go up on the stage, the entrants come in and you’re on the stage with the other inductees.

You’re standing there with your sports jacket on, and as the proceeding goes on, each of every Hall of Famer that’s there comes up on stage. That’s when you feel like you want to melt right through to the ground.

They take that jacket off you and put the Hall of Fame jacket on. I think that’s the highlight. Then every Hall of Famer comes up and shakes your hand to welcome you to the club.

Deacon Jones shook my hand and said, “It’s the one team you can’t be cut from.”

It can’t get any better than that.

Elvin Bethea looking sharp in his Hall of Fame blazer. Page 241 in The Game Before the Money.

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