Lofton receives football's highest honor

CANTON, Ohio - A thankful James Lofton received his crowning achievement in football Sunday when he was inducted into Pro Football's Hall of Fame. Lofton's bust is now enshrined at 2121 George Halas Drive, the 20th player to be inducted as a Green Bay Packer.<p>

Lofton, along with defensive end Elvin Bethea, running back Marcus Allen, guard Joe DeLamielleure and coach Hank Stram became the newest members of the 221-member Hall of Fame. Lofton received football's highest honor before about 4,000 damp football fans at Fawcett Stadium, a day prior to Green Bay's first exhibtion game before the Kansas City Chiefs.

As 116 current members looked on, including many former Packers, Lofton was presented by his 19-year-old son, David. He then thanked the many coaches, from his high school days to the professional level, who helped him reach his goal of playing in the NFL.

Lofton played for five different teams, including his first nine seasons in the league with the Packers. In 16 seasons overall, he caught 764 passes for 14,004 yards, an average of 18.3 yards per catch. He had 50 or more catches in a season nine times.

Lofton is more than deserving of entrance to the Hall of Fame. As much as he praised those who helped him reach his goals, he ended his speech with a touching tribute to his wife, Beverly. When his splendid career in Green Bay came to a rocky end in 1986 after he was acquitted of a second-degree sexual assault charge, Beverly stood by his side. Sitting in the front row with their children Daniel, 16, and Rachel, 12, among other family members, Lofton spoke of his wife the way he caught passes – graciously.

"Without a doubt, my path to the Hall of Fame began Dec. 31, 1979 when I met Beverly," Lofton said.

"Truly behind or next to every great man stands an even greater woman. Bart and Cherry Starr sent us a little poem that has hung in our house. On the plaque, it says, 'Do not look for perfection in your mate because you will not find it.' Well, that's not true because I found perfection in you," said Lofton as he looked at Beverly.

Lofton's name recently has been hung inside Lambeau Field's Ring of Honor. With 20 former players in the Hall of Fame, the Packers' total is second only to the Chicago Bears who have 26 former players in the Hall of Fame.

Lofton played in seven Pro Bowl Pro Bowls during his nine seasons in Green Bay, leading the Packers in receiving for eight of those nine years.

A two-sport star at Stanford, Lofton often strived for perfection and has encouraged his children to do the same.

"I see my father as a man who strives for excellence in all aspects of life," said David Lofton. "He has excelled as a student, an athlete, a coach, and most important, as a husband, father and role model."

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