CANTON, Ohio — In the seven months since he found out he was going to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Andre Reed promised he would shed a few tears during his acceptance speech.
As it turned out, Reed didn't cry during his speech late Saturday night at Canton's Fawcett Stadium.
But he probably moved part of a national television audience to tears with heartfelt comments that expressed his love for his family, his coaches back at Dieruff High School and Kutztown University, and his teammates with the Buffalo Bills.
Reed hit all the right notes during a passionate presentation that culminated his long wait for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
In addition to Reed, linebacker Derrick Brooks, defensive linemen Michael Strahan and Claude Humphrey, punter Ray Guy, offensive lineman Walter Jones, and safety Aeneas Williams were inducted, bringing the total number of Hall of Famers to 287.
Reed was the sixth of the seven inductees to be presented, and the large number of Bills fans in Canton and across the country waited patiently for No. 83's turn at the podium.
It was worth the wait, just like Reed's wait for selection after being on the Hall of Fame ballot eight previous times — seven as a finalist.
Reed, who has given numerous speeches in the Lehigh Valley area this year, was never better at the podium than during his 36-minute speech that concluded with him catching one more pass from fellow Hall of Famer, quarterback and dear friend Jim Kelly.
If this was a presidential nominee acceptance speech, Reed would have won in a landslide, especially in upstate New York after he promised "the Bills will stay in Buffalo."
Reed began and ended his speech by saluting the three most important places in his life — Allentown, Kutztown and Buffalo.
But the most poignant portions of the speech came when he spoke of his parents, Calvin and Joyce, his brothers Tyrone and Dion, and sister Teshia. And the goose bumps returned again when he spoke of his love for his Bills teammates, especially Kelly, who is battling cancer.
Reed told the audience that his father, Calvin, was "an alcoholic," and said "I saw things as a kid no one should ever see."
However, he said that the values and lessons he learned from his father were the reason he was standing on the big stage in Canton on Saturday night.
"As I stand here today, experiencing one of the best days of my life on football's biggest stage, all I can say is 'Dad, you were right' and I miss you and love you so much," Reed said. "I talk to you a lot, Dad, and life's lessons are so tough, but I thank you for your wisdom."
Reed also saluted his mother, Joyce, saying: "My mom was a nose-to-the-grindstone kind of woman, too. She worked 12 hours a day in a garment factory and did everything she could to keep our family together. I'd walk by the factory and see her at that sewing machine and I said; "Mom, you know what, one day that sewing stuff is going to be over with. You're never going to sew ever again.'
"Mom, I love you so much. You're my inspiration, my heart. Thank you for your unconditional love. Tonight, you're in the Hall of Fame, too."
Reed later mentioned his wife, Cindy, and their children, Aubrey and Andre, pulling heartstrings with almost every sentence.
But the goose bumps arrived and the tears welled up throughout the crowd when he talked about Kelly.
"My career didn't take off until something called the K-Gun came out of nowhere," Reed said. "I was known for my toughness, going across the middle and making that catch, breaking tackles. But the toughest individual I've ever met in my life is No. 12, Jim Kelly.
"How do I find the words to say anything about you," he said, referring to Kelly. "You're the reason I'm standing here. Your belief in me that I can get the job done at any time will resonate with me for the rest of my life. You taught us not to quit. I wanted to make you proud of me. Our old saying was '12 plus 83 equals six.' You endured so much in your life, but you're an inspiration to all you touch."
Kelly said he wouldn't have missed Reed's induction for the world, which is understandable because Reed was Kelly's go-to guy throughout the Bills' rise to glory in the early 1990s.
Reed, who is just the 24th receiver to go into the Hall of Fame, retired after the 2000 season after having played in 234 games. He had 951 career receptions for 13,198 yards and 87 touchdowns. The touchdown total ties him with Thomas for most in Buffalo history.
He had 36 games with 100-plus yards receiving and added 85 catches for 1,229 yards in postseason games, including five 100-yard receiving games.
At the time of his retirement, Reed had the third-most receptions in NFL history and the second-most seasons of 50 or more pass receptions (13).
Reed was an exciting player and got Bills fans pumped up one more time by saying, "Where would you rather be than right here, right now?" repeating the battle cry of the Bills during their Super Bowl era.
On this night, all of the Buffalo fans as well as so many from Allentown and Kutztown didn't want to be anywhere else than focused on what was happening in Canton.
One more time, Andre Reed scored in a football stadium and heard cheers.
On this night, not even winning a Super Bowl could have felt better.