“You must dream and you must be dedicated to something in your life,” added Dent, who asked everyone in the audience to rise in applause for Gilliam, then thanked dozens of people, including many from the ‘85 Bears who also were in the stadium. He saved his highest praise for the late Walter Payton.
“When you have dreams, it is very tough to say you can do everything by yourself,” Dent said. “It’s all about other people.”
Sabol made a life out of telling other people’s stories.
An aspiring filmmaker, Sabol approached Commissioner Pete Rozelle offering to double the rights fee for filming the 1962 NFL championship game between the Packers and Giants. Rozelle accepted the $3,000 and a wildly successful marriage was formed.
Seated in a wheelchair, the 94-year-old Sabol said he “dreamt the impossible dream, and I’m living it right at this minute.”
“This honor tonight really goes to NFL Films, I just happen to be accepting all the accolades,” Sabol added.
Sabol’s son, Steve, who replaced him as president of the company, introduced his father, about whom he said, “My sisters used to say my dad was two stooges short of a good routine. He loved to entertain.”
Hanburger called his induction “one of the greatest moments in my life and I mean that from my heart. I am just overwhelmed by this.”
Hanburger never let his job with the Redskins overwhelm him. He was the signal-caller for George Allen’s intricate defenses in Washington, which included dozens of formations.
He also was a physical player. Nicknamed “The Hangman,” Hanburger stood out for one violent move he practically patented in 14 seasons with the Redskins: the clothesline tackle, which eventually was outlawed.
A senior committee nominee, Hanburger made nine Pro Bowls in his 14 seasons, although he never won a championship. The linebacker’s knack for finding the ball helped him to 19 interceptions and three fumble returns for TDs, a league mark when he retired after the 1978 season.
Hanburger stared into the face of his bust before saying induction is “something that I never gave a thought to.”
Richter, who died last year, also was a senior nominee. He played nine seasons for the Los Angeles Rams, who acquired him in 1954 for 11 players after he was the second overall draft pick.
Richter served two years in the military, then became one of the most rugged defenders in the NFL. He made eight straight Pro Bowls while also seeing time at center and as a placekicker for part of his career. He retired in 1962 and went on to a successful career in motor sports.