Finally…I’m posting this!
On Friday, May 16, Scott and I attended the Gridiron Great’sHall of Fame Dinner at Ford Field (the home of the Detroit Lions), and the event celebrated deserving players not only for their careers on the field but for their continued investment in the community. Proceeds of ticket sales benefitted the Gridiron Great’s Assistance Fund, a nonprofit which assists retired NFL players – the true pioneers of the game –with hardships they face after football.
I have so many things I want to share with you about that night that my mind is swirling right now. Let me jump right in and begin with a quote by former Canadian Football League Hall of Fame inductee Matt Dunigan, who arguably muttered the most powerful words of the evening: “This game…takes so much from us. It takes bones, it takes pints of blood…but we keep giving back to the game we love so much.”
Seriousness aside, the dinner was rather celebratory, and Scott and I had a fabulous time from beginning to end. Here is the evening in pictures…
As soon as Scott and I arrived, we were summoned to stop for pics on the step and repeat. A step and repeat is a wall that has an event sponsor's logos on it for the purpose of having guests "step" onto the red carpet, pose for the photographers and leave, while the next person follows and "repeats" the process. And I’d like to give a huge shout-out to Ann of Big Lyle’s Party and Event Services who provided this photo. My dress is a BCBG Max Azria number that dates back to 2008, and I wholeheartedly credit my undergarments for getting the job done that night. And, no, the shoes weren’t shown in this pic, but not to worry…
I am honored to take a picture with this gentleman: Former Detroit Lions Cornerback Lem Barney, who was the first of three Detroit Lions NFL Hall of Fame inductees to wear the famous #20 jersey. I had wanted his beautiful wife to join us for this photo, but, unbeknownst to me, she had already taken a seat at their table. “Lem,” I said, “Where’s Jacci? Is she here tonight?” Lem replied, “Of course. She’s like American Express: I don’t leave home without her.” Smart man, that Lem.
Here is Scott with Ron Hughes, the Detroit Lions’ former Director of Player Personnel, which makes him a pretty big deal: You are looking at the man who recommended that the Detroit Lions draft Scott. Ron is currently the College Scouting Coordinator for the Pittsburgh Steelers, where he has won two Super Bowl Rings. When a team wins the Super Bowl, every single member of that team’s staff – not just the players – get a ring…
…And this is Ron’s on my finger. If not for my four-inch glitter pumps, I may have tried to make a break for it while it was still on. Looking at the photo through the viewfinder, we thought it was clear. Well, turns out, it’s kind of blurry, and I contemplated not using it…but it’s a SUPER BOWL RING: I HAD to show it. (Please excuse the condition of my skin, which makes my hand look like the weathered claw of a wild bird.)
(From left) Former NFL defensive tackle and defensive end Marc Spindler, who was drafted to the Detroit Lions, then played for the New York Jets, and then returned to the Lions, where he retired, Marc’s son, and Scott.
Here’s Scott with his former teammate, offensive tackle Ken Dallafior, who played eight seasons in the NFL, half with the Lions, and half with the San Diego Chargers.
Few people bleed maize and blue (the colors of my college alma mater, the University of Michigan) and Honolulu blue and silver (the colors of the Detroit Lions) like Jim Brandstatter, the gentleman in this photo, who is pictured here with his lovely wife, former ABC WXYZ-TV news anchor Robbie Temmons, whom I grew up watching. Jim is the radio color commentator for the Detroit Lions and does play-by-play for Michigan football. (He also played college football at Michigan.)
Here I am with this year’s recipient of the Ron Kramer Unsung Hero of the Detroit Lions Award, Dominic Raiola, the current center for the Detroit Lions (#51). Like Scott, Dominic has played his entire career with the Detroit Lions.
…Dominic apparently got the memo that Honolulu blue shoes are always in style.
In the Video Diary I recorded in preparation of tonight’s event, I briefly spoke of Scott's former teammate, former Detroit Lion offensive lineman Mike Utley, who became paralyzed from the chest down during a 1991 Detroit Lions contest against the LA Rams. To say that his life changed in an instant would be a gross understatement, but his unyielding zest for life has remained a constant. Mike is this year’s recipient of the Tim Pendell Community Service Award. (In 2011 Tim retired as the Detroit Lions’ Senior Director of Affairs after 26 seasons.) Tim was on hand to present Mike with the award, and when introducing Mike, said the following: “I remember how Mike used to arrive at the Silverdome everyday on his motorcycle, with heavy metal blaring so loudly it was deafening. I didn’t know if we’d drafted an offensive lineman or a member of Guns N’ Roses.” This photo of Scott, Mike, and me was taken by Mike’s awesome wife Dani, a nurse whom Mike met while lifting weights as part of his rehabilitation. (How beautiful is that story?)
I love this picture: It is the football field at Ford Field, completely dark and empty, with nary a person in sight – the polar opposite of game day. This is what we passed by at night’s end.