Special feelings for families involved in inductions
Cheyenne Humphrey-Robinson was thrilled to hear that the Pro Football Hall of Fame will allow Junior Seau's daughter to speak from the stage during Saturday's induction ceremonies.
She got to do it for her father, Claude Humphrey, when he entered the shrine last summer.
''I think it would really have been sad for her considering her dad is not here and she not being allowed to speak,'' Humphrey-Robinson said. ''It's already going to be tough because her father is not here, and that would have put a serious damper on it for her. So it's great that she will have the opportunity.
''It was unlike any experience I had before,'' added Humphrey-Robinson, who since has been given the nickname ''The Presenter'' by friends and family. ''The crowd, the fans, the reporters, the superstars I got a chance to meet. It was amazing. And my favorite thing was putting the jacket on my dad, I just balled.''
Sydney Seau won't have that opportunity, of course: Junior Seau took his own life in 2012. But the Hall of Fame, reversing its decision to only allow a video presentation to honor the great linebacker, is allowing Sydney to pay tribute to Junior.
''I am glad they are letting her speak,'' said Willie Roaf, the star tackle whose father, Clifton, presented him for induction in 2012. ''This is his enshrinement. He played 20 years, didn't have as good a supporting cast as some others, and took his team to the Super Bowl. A great football player and an ambassador for the league. He meant a lot to the league and did a lot in the league. In these special type of circumstances ... at least to say something on his behalf, the way he died was tragic, it's right that she has that chance.''
While children of enshrinees introducing or representing their dads hardly is uncommon at Canton - 35 sons and five daughters thus far - Clifton Roaf is one of only seven fathers to do so. For him, it was more than simply recognizing the magnificent career of his offspring.
''It was like a triumph for me,'' said Clifton Roaf, who played for two seasons at Michigan State before injuries ended his career. ''He vindicated me and then he vindicated so many athletes that came through this small segregated (high) school on the delta of Arkansas.
''The whole family was just elated, but it was more personal with me. He had done something in my wildest dreams I never would have anticipated.
''The most memorable thing was I told Will that when he got through with his presentation we would hug each other. We gave ourselves perhaps one of the greatest hugs we ever had, and the crowd responded to it. It expressed our love, and expressed the bonding of a father and a son.''
James Lofton, who entered the Hall of Fame in 2003, was presented by his son, David. To Lofton, everything about the weekend is memorable and special, and he was elated his son and the rest of the Loftons were able to share in it.
The great wide receiver emphasizes the communal experience.
''For a whole weekend they will be involved, be a part of the other events: roundtables and riding in the parade and the other events,'' Lofton said. ''The inductions are one slice of it, the one seen the most on TV. But there's so much more to it.''
Lofton originally asked Bart Starr to present him, but Starr suggested instead that one of Lofton's sons be given the honor. He chose the oldest, David, then 19.
''David is a very cool and calm character,'' Lofton said. ''I don't know if he was intimidated by it or real excited by it, or even really knew what I was asking him to do. But at the hotel, his room was right across from my room, and I heard him practicing his speech in the bathroom. That was the first time I got wind of it. I have a picture in my office of him at the podium. On the back screen is a picture of my wife listening to him. He did an incredible job.
''To paint the picture of you as a player, but more so as a dad and a husband, and he encapsulated that really well, my eyes just welled up.''
Count on more of that Saturday night.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL