Fun without games at Hall

The drudgery of training camp and the ”honor” of opening the

preseason with an extra exhibition game isn’t bothering some

members of the Dallas Cowboys and Cincinnati Bengals.

They were happy to attend the Pro Football Hall of Fame

induction festivities on Saturday, which included Dallas running

back great Emmitt Smith and former Cincinnati head coach Dick

LeBeau, before facing off in the Hall of Fame game Sunday

night.

”I can’t wait to go see the Hall of Fame,” said Bengals

cornerback Pacman Jones, who spent part of the 2008 season – his

most recent in the NFL – with the Cowboys. ”I’ve never been there.

This will be a great experience for me. It will open my eyes up to

a lot of things. You go back and think of the history and all the

work that everybody else put in.”

Dallas quarterback Tony Romo was equally pumped to do some

sightseeing.

”I’m going to enjoy going to Canton just to check it out,”

Romo said. ”Obviously the game is going to be super enjoyable to

get out there and play, but just going and looking at the history

of the game, checking it out and seeing the Hall of Fame. I love to

read about sport as much as I can. I could probably end up being

there all night, honestly, but I’m sure they’ll kick me out at some

point.”

It will be the Cowboys’ fourth Hall of Fame game and their first

since 1999. The Bengals will play in their third and first since

1989.

JERRY ON EMMITT: It didn’t take long for Cowboys owner Jerry

Jones to recognize how committed Emmitt Smith was to his craft.

Jones and coach Jimmy Johnson selected Smith 17th overall in the

1990 draft, one year after taking over the franchise and going

1-15. Smith would become the centerpiece of the running game, a

member of the ”Triplets” on offense, along with Troy Aikman and

Michael Irvin, and eventually the NFL’s career rushing leader.

”He is the most successful goal-oriented player or otherwise

that I’ve ever been around,” Jones said. ”When he came to the

Cowboys, he said, ‘I’m going to set the rushing record.’ And right

after he got to the Cowboys, he would come back and just sit in my

office because, apart from being a ballplayer, he said, ‘I’m going

to be a businessman and I just want to sit there and listen to you

during that time.’

”As far as somebody that can walk the walk, Emmitt does that.

That’s the way he approaches his business.”

BACK IN CANTON: The Pro Football Hall of Fame had plenty of

former teammates who attended Saturday’s ceremonies inducting Jerry

Rice, Emmitt Smith, John Randle, Floyd Little, Russ Grimm, Dick

LeBeau and Rickey Jackson.

Among them were Troy Aikman and Michael Irvin, who formed the

”Triplets” on offense with Smith and won three Super Bowls for

Dallas. Smith asked both of them to rise while making his

acceptance speech.

Rice’s two favorite quarterbacks with the 49ers, Joe Montana and

Steve Young, were on hand, along with safety Ronnie Lott.

Jackson couldn’t have any of his Saints teammates who preceded

him into the Hall on hand – he is the first New Orleans player

elected. But Jackson did play in 1994 and ’95 with the 49ers,

making him a former teammate of Rice and Young.

LeBeau, who retired in 1972 from the Detroit Lions, saw his

current players – he’s the renowned defensive coordinator for the

Pittsburgh Steelers – in Fawcett Stadium. The team bused in from

training camp in Latrobe, Pa.

Among Grimm’s ex-teammates from the Redskins who are in the hall

and were here were Art Monk and Darrell Green. For Randle, it was

former Vikings guard Randall McDaniel and tackle Gary

Zimmerman.

For the first time since 1977, three players had team owners

present them for induction. The Cowboys’ Jerry Jones presented

Smith, the Saints’ Tom Benson did the honors for Jackson and the

49ers’ former owner, Eddie DeBartolo Jr., introduced Rice.

BERMAN’S PRIZE: ESPN’s Chris Berman, a frequent host of the

induction ceremonies, was given the Pete Rozelle Radio-Television

Award by the Hall of Fame for ”longtime exceptional contributions

to radio and television in professional football.”

Berman, who as a youngster used to watch Joe Namath play at Shea

Stadium for the Jets, has been with ESPN since 1979. He’s covered

28 Super Bowls.

”This is the pinnacle you can reach during a career,” Berman

said. ”After all, it’s fun and games were are covering, and it’s

fun and games to being covering them.

”To see my name with Curt Gowdy and Ray Scott, it’s

humbling.”

Peter Finney of the New Orleans Times-Picayune was given the

Dick McCann Memorial Award by the Pro Football Writers Association

for his work through 65 years as a journalist in the gulf region. A

member of the Hall of Fame selection committee since 1992, Finney

has covered the Saints since their inception.

Ron Cortes of the Philadelphia Inquirer won the Dave Boss Award

of Excellence for his photo entitled ”Jackson’s Parade” showing

Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson sprinting down the sideline

being chased by a host of New York Giants.

BETTER THAN THE WHITE HOUSE: Dick LeBeau thought he’d

experienced his best moment in football a few years ago. He now

knows he was wrong.

The 73-year-old LeBeau, the oldest coordinator in the NFL, was

inducted into the Hall of Fame after a 32-year wait since he became

eligible.

He recalled the Steelers’ visit to the White House after winning

the 2009 Super Bowl, and President Barack Obama asking where he was

standing.

”The president signaling me out, this might be highest moment

of my life, there certainly can’t be anything great than this,”

LeBeau said he thought.

Yes, there can.

”In all due respect, Mr. President,” LeBeau added, ”this

business is a whole lot bigger.”