CANTON, Ohio – After delivering an emotionally charged speech that brought both laughter and tears, receiver Andre Reed had one more thing to do to make his Pro Football Hall of Fame induction complete.
Turning his back to the crowd on the podium, Reed caught a pass from former Buffalo Bills teammate and fellow Hall of Famer Jim Kelly on the stage at Fawcett Stadium on Saturday night.
The two then shared a long, emotional hug.
It was a fitting finish for a tandem that set a then-NFL record by hooking up 663 times in Buffalo.
And it was a moment that paid homage to the quarterback, who has spent the past 14 months battling cancer.
“You taught us not to quit,” Reed said, referring to Kelly. “You have endured a lot in your life. The loss of your son, and most recently your battle with cancer. You’re an inspiration to all you touch.”
Kelly was near tears, and the thousands of Bills fans in the crowd cheered.
The evening featured other memorable moments from the seven-member 2014 class of inductees.
Defensive back Aeneas Williams had the fans and fellow Hall of Famers chanting in the stands to give it their all.
And Ray Guy made history, becoming the first full-time punter to be inducted.
“He put us on the map,” former Vikings punter Greg Coleman said of Guy. “There weren’t too many punters who had a five-second hang time in the league.”
In May, Coleman and Bryan Barker reached out to every other punter they knew, encouraging them to go to Canton to cheer on Guy.
The result was one of the most unusual gatherings in NFL alumni history: 18 punters whose careers spanned nearly five decades.
John Madden, who coached Guy, introduced him.