Time limits set for Hall of Famers’ acceptance speeches

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Peyton Manning smiles after throwing out the ceremonial first pitch prior to the 91st MLB baseball All-Star Game, Tuesday, July 13, 2021 in Denver. (AP Photo/Alex Trautwig, Pool)

In 2016, Brett Favre spoke for 36 minutes in one of the most memorable Pro Football Hall of Fame induction speeches ever, a mark that was topped by Tony Gonzalez’s 39-minute address in 2019.

Nobody will challenge those marks next month when the classes of 2020 and 2021 are enshrined in Canton, Ohio.

The 19 members of those combined classes who will be giving enshrinement speeches have been asked to limit their remarks to six minutes. An Academy Awards-style musical cue will end each speech at 8 minutes if necessary.

“So, they’re saying there’s like a blinking light at six minutes, maybe a little bell going off at seven minutes and then at eight minutes, they say that someone’s going to come up and lead the applause to end the speech,” said Peyton Manning, a member of the Class of 2021.

“I look forward to seeing them come up and lead the applause while Alan Faneca is still speaking,” Manning cracked. “Good luck getting him off the stage. Or anybody that’s an offensive linemen is probably tough to pull.”

Manning said the inductees have communicated via a group text “about everybody trying to honor that to be respectful of the person behind you and have everybody have their time.”

The Centennial Class wasn’t enshrined last year because of the pandemic, so the weekend will mark the largest number of inductees in the Hall of Fame’s history, making time limits on speeches especially important.

“I hear it’s been a great point of emphasis in years past, but I don’t think it’s been stressed very well,” Manning said.

Or adhered to, actually.

Harold Carmichael will deliver the first speech on the night of Saturday, Aug. 7 when the Centennial Class of 2020 is honored. Drew Pearson, whose career overlapped with Carmichael’s for 11 seasons, will lead off the speeches the following night when the Class of 2021 is enshrined.

There are a dozen speeches from the Class of 2020, with Bill Cowher wrapping things up on the first night.

Interspersed with the 12 live speeches Saturday are video tributes for the eight members of the class elected posthumously, each of whom was enshrined in a special ceremony on April 28 in Canton.

On Sunday, Aug. 8, Pearson will lead the seven members of the Class of 2021 in delivering their enshrinement speeches. Charles Woodson goes last, and there also will be a video tribute to former Steelers scout Bill Nunn, who was enshrined in April.

Manning said he’s putting the finishing touches on his speech and “I’m right there at 7 minutes and 50 seconds as we speak.”

“Unfortunately, it’s just not enough time to thank everybody,” Manning said. “The good thing is for the past 5 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 won’t get to repeat them all in the speech, the thank-you’s are as heartfelt now as they were then.”

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