Former Bear Dent has patience rewarded

Posted Feb. 09, 2011 @ 11:21 p.m.
Posted By Dan Parr

LAKE FOREST, Ill. — It took longer than he would have liked, but the wait to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame was worth it, former Bears DE Richard Dent said at a press conference Wednesday at Halas Hall.

"It's building up over time, but it's a relief, too, because it's been some time," said Dent, the Bears' all-time leader in sacks. "I've always felt that you can't take a star from the sky. It can be cloudy, but sooner or later it has to shine.

"I guess this is my shining time."

Dent, 50, had been a finalist for induction in seven of the past eight years before gaining enough votes for entry on Feb. 5. He was asked Wednesday whether being passed over so many times made him bitter.

"It was an uncomfortable time," Dent said. "... I didn't really know what the hang-up was. I felt that I was one of the guys that made a change in the game in pass rushing and taking the ball from the quarterback."

There's no discomfort now, however. Dent said he's been overwhelmed by the response from his friends, family and former teammates since getting the news that he would join Deion Sanders, Marshall Faulk and Shannon Sharper, among others, in the 2011 Hall of Fame class.

"I'm very happy to be in the house," Dent said. "A couple of my buddies — Marcus Allen, Eric Dickerson — they called me, and the first thing they said was, 'You're in the house, buddy.' "

Dent will become the 27th member of the Bears to be inducted, the most of any team in NFL history, at a ceremony in Canton, Ohio, on Aug. 6.

He's still not quite sure who will be presenting him before his speech that day.

"It's coming down between (daughter Mary, a student at Valparaiso) and my college coach (at Tennessee State), Joe Gilliam Sr., a guy that sent probably 140-150 guys to the pros over his 25- or 30-year career in coaching," Dent said. "It's probably going to be him, but I have to figure out something with my daughter."

Dent, who was named MVP of Super Bowl XX when the Bears defeated the Patriots 46-10, will be the first member of the Hall of Fame to have attended Tennessee State.

"To be the first Hall of Famer at a school that's been existing for 100 years, I don't take that lightly," he said.