Hall of Fame induction speech in 2001
|Date of birth:||January 26, 1950|
|Place of birth:||Jacksonville, Florida|
|Height:||6 ft 4 in (1.93 m)|
|Weight:||245 lb (111 kg)|
|High school:||Monticello (FL) Jefferson Co.|
|NFL Draft:||1971 / Round: 1 / Pick: 20|
|Los Angeles Rams (1971–1984)|
|Career highlights and awards|
|7× Pro Bowl (1973–1979) 5× First-team All-Pro (1974, 1976, 1976, 1978, 1979) 3× Second-team All-Pro (1973, 1977, 1980) 7× First-team All-NFC (1974–1980) 2× Second-team All-NFC (1973, 1984) NFL Defensive Lineman of the Year (1975) UPI NFC Defensive Player of the Year (1975) NFC Defensive Player of the Year (1975, 1976) All-Rookie (1971) Rams MVP (1975, 1976, 1979) NFL 1970s All-Decade Team Rams Ring of Fame Rams No. 85 retired Pro Football Hall of Fame College Football Hall of Fame Gator Football Ring of Honor University of Florida Athletic Hall of Fame Florida–Georgia Hall of Fame First-team All-American (1970) First-team All-SEC (1970)|
|Career NFL statistics|
Boy, I'll tell you, when the Rams drafted me No. 1, it surprised me. I was walking on air for days.
The joy of winning is not as dramatic as the losses were, because I expected us to win.
He owned a service station, and I used to go there and piddle around - pump some gas, get in the way.
Sure enough, it wasn't long until I got a call, telling me I had a scholarship there. It was the only scholarship offer I had and, believe me, I jumped at it.
Merlin really taught me how to concentrate, that you play each play as if it were the only play. And if you put all the plays together like that, then you'll come out on top.
You learnt that, whatever you are doing in life, obstacles don't matter very much. Pain or other circumstances can be there, but if you want to do a job bad enough, you'll find a way to get it done.
But this was my chance to go to the Super Bowl. Nothing was going to stop me.
By that time I was thinking a little about pro ball and hopeful that someone would draft me.
You learn to kid around and joke and not take things too seriously because somehow its all gonna work out for the best - or you're gonna make it work out.
One day, though, I was asked if I'd like to go to the University of Florida and become a Gator.
There are no opportune times for a penalty, and this is not one of those times.
I visualize things in my mind before I have to do them. It's like having a mental workshop.
He took me under his wing when I first came to the Rams and taught me everything - his technique in the pass rush, how to play off blockers, and how to make the big play.