Two of the greatest NFL ironmen were inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on the same night.
And how about that? They both played at Nebraska.
Big Red was well-represented Saturday night in Canton, Ohio, with the induction of Will Shields and Mick Tingelhoff.
They were part of a class that included Junior Seau, Jerome Bettis, Tim Brown and Charles Haley.
"It's an honor being named to the Hall of Fame," Shields said. "Having those 10 letters added to your name. But it takes more than just yourself, it takes a village of people."
Shields, who won the 1992 Outland Trophy at Nebraska before becoming one of the greatest Kansas City Chiefs of all time, thanked many people Saturday night, from his offensive line coach in high school in Lawton, Oklahoma, to Dick Vermeil.
He thanked his wife Senia, and their children Sanayika, Solomon and Shavon, a senior Husker basketball player.
"I know there's a lot of people I didn't get a chance to thank," Shields said. "I apologize for those I didn't get to mention. I'm standing here today because of each of you."
Shields even got a loud cheer from Pittsburgh Steeler fans in attendance when a video presentation showed the former Kansas City Chief blocking former Baltimore Raven Ray Lewis.
Saturday's ceremony marked the just the fifth time that two inductees from the same college were enshrined in the same Hall of Fame class.
Tingelhoff, the soft-spoken center from Lexington who quietly captained the Minnesota Vikings to four Super Bowls during their heyday, basically entered the Pro Football Hall of Fame the way he and his family said he would.
“Short and sweet,” said Phyllis, Mick’s wife of 54 years, referring to a 1-minute, 14-second acceptance speech that was handled by Tingelhoff’s presenter, Vikings Hall of Fame quarterback Fran Tarkenton, as Mick stood beside him and did not speak.
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“That’s Mick," she said. "He’s always liked things short and sweet.”
Health issues that include memory loss coupled with the exhaustion of the week in Canton led the Tingelhoff family to decide Saturday against having Tingelhoff try to give even a brief speech. Tingelhoff was a part of the initial group of NFL players to sue the league because of the long-term effects of head injuries.
After helping unveil Tingelhoff’s bronze bust, Tarkenton led his old center to the podium.
“Mick’s a man of little words, but a lot of action,” Tarkenton said. “He’s so proud to be in this class of 2015. He waited 37 years to get to the Hall of Fame.”
At that point, Tarkenton choked up and started to cry. The crowd gave them a standing ovation that lasted about 25 seconds.
“He wanted me to tell all of his teammates who are here and thank them for being here. Our great coach and fellow Hall of Famer Bud Grant. All the Viking fans who came from all over the country. And all the rest of you fans, and even you Steeler fans who beat us in that Super Bowl. Thank you.”
Tingelhoff, who played at Nebraska from 1959-61, then waved to the crowd before he and Tarkenton walked off the stage.
In his 32nd year of eligibility, Tingelhoff was enshrined alongside seven classmates inside Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium next door to the Hall of Fame. Of the 295 Hall of Famers in the NFL’s 95-year history, Tingelhoff is the ninth center, 16th undrafted free agent and 13th player who spent the majority of his career as a Viking.
Tingelhoff made 240 consecutive starts with the Vikings. Shields made 231 straight starts with the Chiefs.
Shields was elected to 12 Pro Bowls. Only seven players have ever been selected to more, and only one of them played on the offensive line.
During his time in Kansas City, Shields pried open running lanes for Marcus Allen, Priest Holmes and Larry Johnson. He established a pocket for Joe Montana, Warren Moon and Trent Green. He played for coaches that included Marty Schottenheimer, Vermeil and Herm Edwards.
"I'm standing here being honored because of each of you," Shields said. "So when the opportunity presents itself in your life, choose to be the difference maker in this village. Thank you very much. Appreciate it."