The “Greatest Show on Turf” is about to add another member to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Orlando Pace joins Marshall Faulk as the second piece from one of the NFL’s most explosive offenses of all time. And Pace, was arguably the first building block to a franchise that was changing under then coach Dick Vermeil.
“Being drafted number one, I just wanted to come in and do my part,” explained Pace. “They had a couple pieces in place, and I was just one of those pieces. When Kurt (Warner) was implemented, he ran that offense better than anybody. You can say that maybe I was a part of that, whether I was the first building block or not, we just had success, and we just came together at that time and made things work. It was a special time for us.”
It certainly wasn’t predetermined that the incredible window of success beginning in 1999 was a foregone conclusion. There was a lot of growing pains for Pace and the rest of his teammates, in the lean years under Vermeil 1997-98. But Pace always had a great deal of respect for Vermeil, going back to his days at Ohio State.
“He (Vermeil) did a number of our college games (on ABC) my last year at Ohio State,” said Pace. “You would sit in those media rooms, and you would talk to him. You had an idea of who he was as a man, and what he was capable of. But to be honest, the first couple of years (in St. Louis) were rough. We didn’t win a lot of games, but coach Vermeil had a plan for all of us. Those two years that we struggled, made me tougher, and not to take anything for granted.”
Pace attributed a lot success in the 1999 season to a lesser workload in camp and practices that made the team feel “fresher.”
A lot of that success was also credit to Pace playing like the best left tackle in football. Pace was named 1st Team All-Pro in 1999,2001, and 2003. From 1998-2005, Pace started every game except for six in an injury shortened 2002 season. Put simply, the “Greatest Show” doesn’t happen without that first building block. Pace knows though, those teammates that haven’t joined him and Canton, won’t be far behind.
“Kurt should’ve gotten in this year, in my opinion. Simply for what he did for two organizations. Winning two MVP’s in this league. There is no way he shouldn’t be in the Hall of Fame. What Isaac Bruce in this league for a long time, the numbers that he put up. I was just talking to Torry (Holt) the other day. I’ll put his numbers up against anybody in the Hall of Fame.
Pace believes the character displayed by those teammates, puts their candidacy over the top.
“The funny thing about those guys, they just went about their business. They didn’t tell anybody about what they were doing. They were never controversial. They were pros. I just feel they should be rewarded for that.”
Pace’s oldest son Justin, will be Orlando’s presenter at the induction ceremony. The younger Pace has already recorded the video piece that will appear.
“I wanted him to share in the moment, in having his dad elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame,” beamed Pace. “To have Justin, to be a part of his legacy as well. It makes it even more special.”
It will be another star-studded Hall of Fame class, on Saturday August 6th. Joining Pace will be Edward DeBartolo Jr., Tony Dungy, Brett Favre, Marvin Harrison, Ken Stabler, and Dick Stanfel.
To listen to Orlando’s conference call, click audio player above.