| Record crowd of nearly 2,000 people saw the historic induction of both the 2020 and 2021 College Football Hall of Fame Classes.
LAS VEGAS (Dec. 7, 2021) – The ARIA Resort & Casino Las Vegas played host to an all-star cast of history’s greatest football legends and the sport’s most promising student-athletes during tonight’s 63rd National Football Foundation (NFF) Annual Awards Dinner Presented by Las Vegas.
With a record crowd of nearly 2,000 people in attendance and countless more watching on ESPN3, the event will be remembered as the biggest in NFF history with the unprecedented induction of two College Football Hall of Fame Classes. Unable to take place in 2020 because of the pandemic, tonight’s triumphant return of the NFF Annual Awards Dinner featured the star-studded 2020 and 2021 College Football Hall of Fame Classes, who took center stage as they received college football’s ultimate honor.
The NFF also honored 13 of the game’s current-leading student-athletes, who collected $241,000 in postgraduate scholarships as members of the 2021 NFF National Scholar-Athlete Class Presented by Fidelity Investments.
The festivities began with Iowa State tight end Charlie Kolar being declared the recipient of the 32nd William V. Campbell Trophy® as the top football scholar-athlete in the nation and receiving a $25,000 postgraduate scholarship. The evening culminated with the College Football Hall of Fame inductions and a rousing speech from 2021 College Football Hall of Fame inductee Coach Bob Stoops, who responded on behalf of both classes.
The 63rd edition marked the first time the NFF Annual Awards Dinner was held outside of New York City. Standout ESPN broadcaster Rece Davis, the host of the Emmy Award-winning “College GameDay Built by The Home Depot,” entertained the crowd as the emcee for the annual celebration, which lived up to its historic role of bringing the college football community together at the end of the regular season to pay tribute to the game and its greatest legends. This year’s dinner was especially momentous as it was the first large gathering of the leaders of college football in nearly two years.
The 2020 and 2021 College Football Hall of Fame Classes were introduced by NFF Board Member Archie Griffin, a Hall of Fame running back from Ohio State, while NFF Chairman and Hall of Fame inductee Archie Manning (Mississippi) conducted the Official Hall of Fame Ring Ceremony.
The 2020 Class included Lomas Brown (Florida), Keith Byars (Ohio State), Eric Crouch (Nebraska), Eric Dickerson (Southern Methodist), Glenn Dorsey (LSU), John Elliott (Michigan), Jason Hanson (Washington State), E.J. Henderson (Maryland), E.J. Junior (Alabama), the late Steve McNair (Alcorn State – represented by his widow, Mechelle), Cade McNown (UCLA), Leslie O’Neal (Oklahoma State), Anthony Poindexter (Virginia), David Pollack (Georgia), Bob Stein (Minnesota), Michael Westbrook (Colorado), Elmo Wright (Houston) and coaches Dick Sheridan (Furman, North Carolina State) and Andy Talley (St. Lawrence [NY], Villanova).
The 2021 Class included Harris Barton (North Carolina), David Fulcher (Arizona State), Dan Morgan (Miami [FL]), Carson Palmer (Southern California), Tony Romo (Eastern Illinois), Kenneth Sims (Texas), C.J. Spiller (Clemson), Darren Sproles (Kansas State), Aaron Taylor (Notre Dame), Andre Tippett (Iowa), Al Wilson (Tennessee) and coaches Rudy Hubbard (Florida A&M) and Bob Stoops (Oklahoma).
The 28 players and four coaches bring the total number of players in the College Football Hall of Fame to 1,038 and the number of coaches to 223. Coach Stoops, Oklahoma’s winningest head coach who posted an impressive 79.8 winning percentage and led the Sooners to the 2000 national championship, responded on behalf of both College Football Hall of Fame Classes.
“Our journey here was not completed alone,” said Coach Stoops in thanking those that helped the inductees to the Hall of Fame. “No one gets to this day us without an extensive support system over the years from our families, our former teammates and coaches, our assistant coaches, our support staffs, all of these remarkable people have played different roles in our success. Some are in the spotlight with us, and some behind the scenes.”
Coach Stoops continued discussing the importance of the game of football:
“Football teaches young people so many vital lessons,” said Stoops. “Think about what’s required to play football: endurance, perseverance, mental and physical strength, struggle and sacrifice, sweat and tears, will and discipline. But the game also gives back for a lifetime, providing satisfaction and joy in the success and respecting humility in defeat. It allows us to experience the importance of teamwork.
“It helps us develop lifelong relationships with people from different backgrounds. It breeds self-awareness, confidence, self-esteem and maybe most importantly, it teaches us toughness…Football is hard. But so is life. Nothing you value in life is worth more than something you’ve worked and struggled for.”