On your mark. Get set. Stop.
Apparently, the Pro Football Hall of Fame this year is serious about ending filibusters at its August induction ceremony … and stop if you heard this before. Because if there’s anything as common as gold jackets in Canton, it’s induction speeches without stop buttons.
Except this year may be different, and don’t take it from me. Take it from quarterback Peyton Manning, Class of 2021. He must make one of those speeches, and, according to the five-time league MVP, he and other inductees are under orders to make deliveries brief.
How brief? No longer than six to eight minutes, Manning said.
OK, big deal. The Hall issued warnings before, and they've been ignored. Tight end Tony Gonzalez, for instance, spoke for just under 40 minutes and safety Ed Reed for 35 in 2019, the last time there was an induction ceremony in Canton.
But this year, Manning said, there’s a catch. And he explained it in detail on Wednesday via Zoom call with the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
“Obviously,” he said, “it’s a great point of emphasis this year on the length of the speeches. I hear there’s been a great point of emphasis in years past. I just don’t think it’s been stressed very well.
“They’re saying there’s a blinking light at six minutes, maybe a little bell going off at seven minutes and at eight minutes they say that someone’s going to come up leading the applause to kind of end the speech.”
You heard him. With two classes enshrined in the same weekend – the Centennial Class of 2020 on Saturday, Aug.7, and the Class of 2021 on Sunday, Aug. 8 -- the Hall is conscious of trying to give each of its 28 inductees time to be recognized. And I get that. What I don’t get is what happens when someone breaks the eight-minute barrier … and refuses to blink.
I’m not alone.
“I look forward to seeing when they come up to lead the applause while Alan Faneca is still speaking,” Manning said, referring to the former offensive-line star and Class of 2021 Hall of Famer. “Good luck getting him off the stage …or anybody that’s an offensive lineman. It’s probably tough to pull.
“It is a limited amount of time. It’s between six and eight minutes. The other inductees and I have kind of texted each other about everybody trying to honor that to be respectful of the person behind you … and wanting everybody to have the fair amount of time … and not take up time.
“So I’m right there at seven minutes and 50 seconds, as we speak. Unfortunately it’s just not enough time to thank everybody.”
Tell that to Canton. On second thought, don’t. The clock is ticking.
“The good thing,” said Manning, “is for the past five years, either on a handwritten note, or a phone call or in person I’ve had a chance to thank the people personally. So, even though I don’t get to repeat them all in the speech, certainly the thank-yous are as heartfelt now as they were then.
“So, I will be on time and, hopefully, be able to share how appreciative I am of the honor and share how thankful I am for all the people who have been part of my football journey.”