Hall of Famers left waiting for the best ring of all
WE'VE heard so much about that phone call, that magical conversation in which someone is informed that he's been inducted into a major-league hall of fame. Every newly-elected hall of famer has his own heartwarming story about getting that call.
"When I got the call ..." former Cowboys tackle Rayfield Wright began yesterday, as the Pro Football Hall of Fame's newest class was introduced as part of Pro Bowl festivities.
But then Wright caught himself. "No," he said. "No, I didn't! I didn't get the call."
"Actually, there was no call," Troy Aikman said. "They said 'Watch the NFL Network and if they say your name, then you're in.'
"My wife was with me in the room. We had the NFL Network on. And then they mentioned my name, Rich Eisen did, and it was a great honor for me."
That's how he found out?
(The San Francisco Chronicle reported that John Madden -- who isn't here because his bus won't float -- had the same story. He waited for a call that never came, then heard his name on TV.)
Is that how it happens now?
From the guy on "I Love the '80s"?
But what about one of sports' sweetest moments? That call, that wonderful, indescribable, incredible "You've made the Hall of Fame" call? All the emotion. All the lore.
"I didn't get that call either," Warren Moon said.
"I did get that call, but it came to my voice mail somehow. And I did save that voice mail.
"You guys need to do something about how you call people," he said. Joking. Kind of.
Too many people got the news second-hand.
Harry Carson, the old Giants linebacker, didn't get his call, either. But he was on a plane. And he'd already waited so long without the phone ringing he threw out a Susan Lucci reference. He probably wouldn't have heard it if it had.
"I feel kind of weird," he said. But in a good way. "I feel kind of numb."
DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
The newest members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame were introduced yesterday -- linebacker Harry Carson, quarterback Troy Aikman, quarterback Warren Moon and offensive tackle Rayfield Wright. Sara White, center, stepped in for her late husband, defensive end Reggie White.
Moon's story was the worst. He'd kept himself busy that day so he wouldn't have been waiting by the phone. He did a kids' quarterback camp in Detroit. "I went back to my room after the clinic and didn't know what I should do," he said.
He waited. Nothing.
"Finally, the phone started ringing and people started calling asking if I had any information," Moon said.
"The phone kept ringing and it wasn't the right phone call."
At last, Paul Arnett's buddy, John McClain of the Houston Chronicle, a Hall voter who had pushed Moon for induction, called. He hinted that maybe Moon should, ahem, you know, head over to the NFL headquarters. Just in case.
Moon still wasn't sure. Didn't know how he felt about doing something like that. But he got in the car, and at least started driving that way, tentatively.
"It was snowing that day in Detroit, going down the freeway not knowing exactly where I'm going," Moon said.
"Got a call while I was headed over there," Moon said -- was this it?! No. "It was from the NFL office about another matter," Moon said.
And then, as the lady was saying goodbye, she added, in polite passing, congratulations. "On your induction to the Hall of Fame."
"And I'm like, 'What are you talking about? Nobody called me,' " Moon said. "She said, 'Yeah, it's going across the TV right now.' "
It's going across the TV right now.
He still hadn't heard it officially. He still wasn't settled about it. Couldn't believe it for sure.
"Nobody called me," he told the lady. "Don't do that stuff to me."
At last, McClain called again. He'd been in the room, he knew the vote. (He had a TV.) It's real, he told Moon. Congratulations. Believe it. Are you kidding me? No.
"I just kind of lost it," Moon said. "Got really emotional. And grabbed the wheel of the car."
He'd had his call. Kind of. Unofficially.
Of course, the Hall of Fame's Joe Horrigan said, it's tougher now. So many people calling at once, cell phones and all their ills.
Of course, Horrigan, said, it always could have been worse.
The great John Mackey was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1992. They tried to call him, then tried again and again. Then others tried to reach him with the news. By the time he returned to his hotel room he had so many messages the voice mail wouldn't work and the red light was blinking double speed. He called down to the front desk.
"I have all these messages," Mackey said. "What's going on?"
The girl at the front desk couldn't contain her excitement: "Haven't you heard? You've been indicted!"
Now that's news you really wouldn't want to get while sitting in front of the TV.