As one of the best offensive tackles ever, Orlando Pace earned a spot in the Hall of Fame Saturday. Though there were a lot big names in this year’s class that took the spotlight, Pace seemed to carry himself at the event with the same grace he seemed to have throughout his career.
Pace was introduced by his oldest son, Justin who spoke about the love his father had of the sport was the same love he had for his family and how his father was a two sport stud in high school. The introduction ran through his accomplishments Pace earned on the field and Justin talked about one of his favorite memories that he shared with his father.
“First and favorite memories of my dad in football are going to Rams games and going into the locker room after wins,” Pace said.
Once Pace got on the podium to speak, he immediately thanked his son for doing the honor of introducing him and being the family’s spokesperson. That was the first of many people Pace would thank throughout his speech, from his grandfather for being the father he never had, to his mother for working two jobs and supporting him and his sister. He thanked his grandparents for instilling a work ethic that would take him all the way to the Hall. He went on to thank several of his coaches from his high school Head Coach Larry Cook to Dick Vermeil for being the “heart and soul” of the Rams.
“Coach, thank you for investing in players, investing in men,” Pace said. “That’s what guys on that team really enjoyed — investing in the person and not so much the player.”
He thanks his teammates from the Greatest Show on Turf and said he would like to see Kurt Warner, Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt all make it in the Hall. Pace talked about how that 1999 team was special, in terms of team and experience, he talked about the lack of egos on it and the selfless attitudes the men on the team had. ace would not just thank people but also talk about the drive he contained and the goals he let no one know about until he was inducted.
“I am honored and humbled to stand here today, for along with my induction, this occasion marks a fulfillment of each and every goal I’ve established for myself since the age of 13,”
Pace, who lived in Sandusky, Ohio, talked about how this sport and his family kept him from running with the gangs that were in the city and help lead him on a path to going to Ohio State University.
“My name in the Hall of Fame will stand as a lasting reminder, a message that no matter how humble a man’s beginnings, success is possible if you have the courage to truly believe.”
After thanking some more people who were either a teammate or a role model for the 40-year-old Ohio native, Pace would talk about the St. Louis fans who he was so thankful for bringing a title to the city and thanked them for the support that they showed him. Nearing the end, Pace would speak about his family once again, this time about his wife and four kids. He said for all the accomplishments he earned in the world of sports, nothing was better than this kids. He thanked his wife for the support and sacrifices she made so he could live his dream of being in the NFL.
“Even though I’m on this stage by myself, I share with you all of it,”
Pace ended his speech talking about the lifelong dream he achieve by playing in the NFL.
“For me, my dream started when I was seven years old, playing in Sunny Side Park in Sandusky, Ohio,” Pace said. “That’s when I first began to be aware that because of my size and natural athletic ability, perhaps God had destined me for something special, something great. Now, here I am in Canton.”
Pace was one of the most dominant offensive tackles ever, he earned a spot on the 2000 all-decade team and would prove to be invaluable for the Rams in their regular and postseason success as he spent all but one of his 13 years with the Rams.