When Jason Taylor finished his speech and the networks broke for commercial everyone began to filter out of the lower pit and the stands. Some left the stadium all together while others made their way to grab food or drinks.
To the left of us on a platform was the NFL Network crew and Steve Mariucci sipped water looking down at the people below. On the other side of the stadium the ESPN crew sat atop their platform. It was a good time to leave my seat.
The line to the bathroom wasn’t all that long until you realized that there were two of them coming in from both sides. The guy in front of me was tall. One of the tallest men I had ever seen. He smiled and we joked about the lines. He said he was determined to get to the one in front of him but he kept getting cut off. We laughed about the thickening crowds and when one opened up to my left he said, “Nope, I’ve waited this long, I’m getting that one”. It was former Dolphins DE Trace Armstrong.
Later that night I would run into him again and we had a laugh about the incident and crowded “John”. He was a lot of fun to talk with and so humble. One of the few NFL players that I have met with absolutely zero ego of any kind. If not for his tall stature you might believe Armstrong was an insurance salesman or the guy in the corner office of your building. Armstrong was an amazing highlight to the weekend.
Outside the bathroom at the sinks Channing Crowder barreled around the corner with a big smile on his face. Looking at me he said with a big laugh, “Man that Taylor loves to talk”. Referring to the time of Taylor’s speech. I laughed and said, “Him? Compared to who? You love to talk it’s why you have your own radio show”.
Crowder rolled his head back and laughed and grabbed my shoulder as we walked on the concourse behind the stadium. “Yeah, yeah I do do that” he said. He shook my hand and disappeared towards the floor of the stadium. I walked behind him and when the time to get checked came, I pulled out my phone acted like I was in a hurry and scooted through security darting behind those being checked.
The floor was pretty cool and media and players alike stopped at various points and chatted and reminisced about topics I couldn’t understand. As I walked the gate line people in chairs held signs that said “JJ”, “CM”, and of course “JT”. Each Hall inductee had their own space and their own entrance.
As the sun began to set I took in the final moments of Morten Anderson’s speech and decided it was time to go as my brothers pulled me out of the stadium. Later that evening we would attend Jason’s private Hall of Fame induction party. There are no words that express my gratitude to the Jason Taylor Foundation for that opportunity.
Sadly, I wasn’t there as a member of the media and that part of my evening remains locked in my own personal memory. I will say this and only this about the experience. A 45 minute casual conversation with Trace Armstrong and Dan Marino was the ultimate ending to an otherwise out of this world weekend.
Two weeks ago the Dolphins posed the question to myself and other Dolphins bloggers. “What is your best Jason Taylor memory?” I said I would imagine it would happen a week later. It did and it was.