Lott Fulfills Dream Of Greatness

Aug 9, 2003

By TOM COYNE
AP Sports Writer

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) - As roommates at Southern California, Ronnie Lott andMarcus Allen talked about achieving greatness.

Lott was one of 24 people inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame onSaturday. His induction comes six days after Allen was enshrined into the ProFootball Hall of Fame.

Now, both players have proof they have achieved greatness.

'I don't think either of us ever dreamed that being great meant that wewould both be in both halls of fame. I think when we said great we were justtrying to be the best that we could be,' Lott said during enshrinementfestivities.

Lott, who in 1980 led the nation in interceptions with eight, was enshrinedSaturday along with former Pitt quarterback Dan Marino, former Tennesseedefensive tackle Reggie White, former Missouri tight end Kellen Winslow and 20others.

The inductees signed autographs, played a game of flag football held askills clinic for youngsters. Lott worked intensely with his group, recallinghow important he held the words of encouragement he received Deacon Jones andJames Harris of the Los Angeles Rams.

'You couldn't help but be inspired,' he said. 'You never know. Somethingthat I said today might encourage them the way those guys encouraged me.'

Lott said he ran 'video clips' through his mind as he listened to theother Hall of Fame inductees talk about their careers.

'As you look around the room, you can look at all the great players and youcan feel the video clips of how they played the game,' he said. 'It's just anhonor to be with so many great people.'

During the flag football game, Marino threw for three touchdowns, took anelbow in the chin from former Texas tackle Jerry Sisemore while playing defenseand tore the shorts of former East Central (Okla.) quarterback Brad Calip whilegoing for his flags.

'It's always fun to play football,' Marino said. 'No matter what it is;to throw the football around is always fun.'

Marino echoed the feeling of most of the inductees when he said it was anhonor to be among such great players.

'Considering all the things you go through in your life and the dreams thatyou try to achieve, this is one that will go a long way in my mind,' he said.

Winslow was actually booed by the crowd when he intercepted a pass intendedfor 85-year-old George 'Sonny' Franck, a tailback with Minnesota from1938-40.

'It's a game, people!' Winslow yelled to the crowd. 'We came to play!'

Winslow described himself as an 'accidental hall of famer,' saying henever intended to play the game. Winslow said as a junior in high school he wasworking as a delivery man in East St. Louis, Ill., when his high school coach,Cornelius Perry asked him to go out for the team.

Winslow said he almost quit after the first practice, but Perry wouldn't lethim. When college coaches came to the school recruiting other players, Perryurged them to look at Winslow.

'The University of Missouri thankfully took a chance on a kid who caught 17passes in high school. They took a chance on a kid who had fewer touchdownsthan the defensive end on the same team,' he said.

Winslow said he learned about adversity and competition at college, and alsolearned about self-confidence.

'One day it clicked, and I said I can do this. And when that happened, Irealized I can do it in the classroom also - that the shy, reserved, very quietyoung man, just blew up because of the game of football,' said Winslow, now alawyer. 'Because of the game of football, I am the man I am today, pointblank.'

White, who arrived Saturday evening, told the crowd at dinner that he wantedto use his enshrinement to thank black athletes who came before him, likeJackie Robinson, Jim Brown and Bill Russell, who made it easier for futuregenerations of black athletes.

'They sacrificed to help me to experience a freer atmosphere. They wentthrough things that I don't imagine I could ever have gone through,' he said.'I think they deserve to be honored, particularly by many of us who came afterthem.'

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