Legendary Seattle Seahawks safety Kenny Easley officially entered the Pro Football Hall of Fame Saturday night, but not before a teleprompter miscue intercepted his speech short of the goal line. Easley finished gracefully after the malfunction, saying “... let’s get started ... bla bla bla bla bla bla bla my teleprompter just went out, so that means I have to stop. Good evening and thank you.”
Easley had just finished elaborating on his youth football programs in Virgina and he had earlier spent much of his time at the podium acknowledging influences in his life and other great players—he singled out fellow Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott, as well as naming several all-time safeties, Seahawks and other NFL stars he felt belonged in the Hall and would eventually find their turn. While thanking Paul Allen for restoring contact, Easley alluded briefly to his decades-long estrangement from the Seattle organization, but didn’t dwell on it or talk at all about his medical battles that shortened his football career.
Easley also briefly mentioned violence in America, saying, “Black lives do matter and all lives matter,” and challenging listeners to “stand up as a country ... to protect our constitutional right” and adding “the lessons we learn in sports can help.” The technical difficulties that followed raised eyebrows on Twitter as some viewers both joked and wondered if the NFL had pulled the plug on the politically charged content. However, the full text of Easley’s prepared script, as published in his hometown paper the Virginian-Pilot, shows there wasn’t any incendiary material the league was trying to silence.
In fact, Easley only had about two more paragraphs to go, in which he planned to recognize achievements of Title IX legislation promoting “outstanding women’s sports in America” and honor Claire Smith, who in the 1980s became the first woman to write a pro baseball beat for a newspaper. Easley also gave his blessings to fellow Seahawk Hall of Famer Cortez Kennedy, who died earlier this year.
After that, Easley’s script would have had him say: “You can put a fork in me. I’m done.” It’s too bad once again Easley didn’t get to finish on his terms, but it doesn’t look like there was any conspiracy and the induction for Easley remains a completion of sorts. Or let’s say a triumphant tackle.