Harold Carmichael waited nearly 30 years to get the call to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, so what's another year to wait for the induction ceremony? That's the approach Carmichael is taking after word came down on Thursday that the ceremony to induct the Centennial Class of the Pro Football Hall of Fame would move from this fall to August 2021 because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
"The health and safety of our Hall of Famers, fans, and volunteers who make Enshrinement Week so special remains our top priority," Pro Football Hall of Fame President and CEO David Baker said in a statement. "The Hall will honor the Centennial Class of 2020 next August, along with what promises to be an equally spectacular Class of 2021, as part of a multi-day celebration of football with an atmosphere that will deliver for fans 'Twice the Fun in '21.'"
The waiting is, indeed, in the words of the late, great Tom Petty, the hardest part.
"Well, I've just got to wait another year," Carmichael said on Thursday. "I waited for 30-some years already, so one year probably won't make a difference. It's kind of a letdown a little bit, but you want to get all of these things – the rings, the jacket, the bust – you want to do all of that stuff and you want to celebrate with family and fans, and it's a downer, but I can wait.
"I was just talking with David Baker and he was telling that it's going to be very exciting and a lot of fun when it happens in 2021. I believe what they're going to do. The Hall of Fame always does it the right way and I'm excited about being able to do it next year. It's been a long time. I've been waiting on it a long time. Again, another year, what can you do?"
Carmichael, of course, played with the Eagles from 1971-83 after the team made him a seventh-round draft pick from Southern University and he earned four Pro Bowl nods in his career, along with setting an NFL record with at least one reception in 127 consecutive games.
He finished his career ranked sixth on the NFL's all-time receptions list with 590 and remains the Eagles' career leader in terms of receptions (589), yards (8,978), and touchdowns (79).
"It's such an honor to be named to the Hall of Fame, a dream of a lifetime," Carmichael said after he was inducted.
It's still an honor as Carmichael becomes the first Eagle inducted into Canton since former safety Brian Dawkins was honored in 2018. It's just that Carmichael, who ended his career in 1984, will have to wait one more year to fully embrace the moment.
"It's going to be OK," he said. "When it happens, it's going to be quite a celebration."