But later on, Parcells grew serious. He talked about how the locker room is a Petri dish for society at large, dealing with issues such as the greater good, accountability, and law and order. In success, a brotherhood forms, Parcells said, a bond that lasts for life.
But there’s a darker side to football that few know about, he added: defeat, despondency and pain.
“I wish all of the American society can experience what I did in this place. It is a priceless, priceless education,” Parcells said.
Parcells made only passing reference to his time in Miami.
After Chiefs defensive tackle Curley Culp had his turn at the podium, the stage was set for Sapp and Carter, two of the best extemporaneous talkers of their era.
Sapp made history in more ways than one. His bronze bust is the first to feature braids in Hall of Fame history. After he and daughter Mercedes unveiled the sculpture, Sapp kissed his own head before approaching the lectern.
Sapp, who spent 13 seasons in the NFL, tallying 961/2 career sacks while with the Buccaneers and Raiders, took time to acknowledge the five University of Miami Hurricanes already in the Hall. He also thanked former coach Dennis Erickson, who recruited him to Coral Cables.
“Thank you for coming to get this little country boy and show him what life is all about,” Sapp said.
“I love this game; I love the passion of it,” he added. “This game is so great, there’s nothing else that I know and love [that] has taken me from a dirt road to heights I’ve never seen and now to a gold jacket.”
Saturday night was the highlight of the Hall’s Golden Anniversary reunion, with more than 120 alumni returning to Canton, including six Dolphins — Don Shula and Dan Marino among them. Shula, now 83, enthusiastically hopped to his feet when announced to the crowd Saturday.
In all, it was the largest collection of Hall of Famers of any sport in history.