All that was missing were the chicken wings, because the Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremony had a distinct Buffalo flavor.
Bills owner Ralph Wilson opened by loosening up the crowd with a few humorous anecdotes. And the chants of “BRUUUCE!” resounded through Fawcett Stadium in Canton, Ohio, on Saturday night, even before former Bills defensive end Bruce Smith had taken the podium.
And once he took the stage, the cheers didn’t stop for the player who had a record 200 sacks.
Smith acknowledged the fans – a large contingent wearing Bills jerseys – by saying, “This certainly feels like a home game.”
Wondering where the time has gone after his 19-year career ended in 2003 with Washington, Smith said: “And now I come full circle. I stand before you humble and honored.”
In between there were emotional moments, when Kansas City linebacker Derrick Thomas and Dallas Cowboys receiver Bob Hayes were inducted posthumously.
“For all Derrick Thomas fans, the light has gone back on,” former Chiefs president Carl Peterson said of Thomas, who died in February 2000 following a car accident, cutting short what had already been a stellar 11-year career.
Hayes, meanwhile, was introduced by his son, Bob Hayes Jr., who noted his father always wondered why it took so long for this achievement to happen. Hayes died in 2002 at the age of 59.
“It hurts, because he’s not here to enjoy this,” Hayes said. “But I know wherever he is, he’s smiling down.”
Also inducted was defensive back Rod Woodson, who described himself as humbled, again letting his numbers speak for themselves as during his playing days. Woodson was a triple-threat during a 17-year career, in which he excelled at cornerback, safety and returning kickoffs.
The NFL’s defensive player of the year in 1993, Woodson was an 11-time Pro Bowl selection and was selected to the NFL’s 75th anniversary team while still playing. He still holds the record for career interceptions returned for touchdowns (12).
And then there was Vikings guard Randall McDaniel, who was a 12-time Pro Bowl pick during a 14-year career, most of it spent with Minnesota.
He was part of an offensive line that helped the Vikings score a then league-record 556 points in 1998, and blocked for six 1,000-yard rushers.
WR White gets big deal
After holding out for the first week of training camp, receiver Roddy White agreed to a new contract with the Atlanta Falcons on Saturday night.
Several media reports said White had worked out a six-year deal worth around $50 million, including $18 million in guaranteed money. He will become one of the NFL’s highest-paid receivers, though short of Larry Fitzgerald’s $10 million-a-year deal with Arizona.
White had a career-best 88 receptions and set a franchise record with 1,382 receiving yards last season.
Philadelphia Eagles rookie tight end Cornelius Ingram has a torn ligament in his left knee and is likely out for the season. The fifth-round pick missed his senior season at Florida after tearing the ACL in the same knee almost exactly a year ago. … The New Orleans Saints held their first scrimmage of training camp without starting quarterback Drew Brees, who was excused for what the club said was a family matter. …Running back Willie Parker sat out the Pittsburgh Steelers’ practice with back spasms, although the team doesn’t believe the problem is serious.