Published November 20, 2014
Jake Scott had a promise to keep.
The former Georgia star doesn't make many trips to the mainland from his home in Hanalei, Hawaii, a small coastal town on the island of Kauai.
He made an exception, however, for the College Football Hall of Fame induction Tuesday because his late friend Jim Mandich made him vow to do so.
"He got me before it went down," Scott said Tuesday, referring to the death in April of his former Miami Dolphins teammate. "So I agreed to do it and that's why I'm here."
Scott, along with Heisman winner Eddie George, former Florida State star Deion Sanders and retired Michigan coach Lloyd Carr are among the latest class of 16 players and coaches to be inducted into College Hall of Fame by the National Football Foundation.
The group also includes former Air Force coach Fisher DeBerry; Alabama defensive lineman Marty Lyons; Miami defensive lineman Russell Maryland; Texas defensive lineman Doug English; Florida receiver Carlos Alvarez; Oregon State fullback Bill Enyart; Nebraska guard Will Shields; Minnesota's Sandy Stephens, who was inducted posthumously; West Virginia linebacker Darryl Talley; Oklahoma halfback Clendon Thomas; Arizona defensive lineman Ron Waldrop; and Michigan State receiver Gene Washington.
Scott led the Southeastern Conference in interceptions in 1967 and '68 and his 16 picks still stands as the Georgia record. He went on to a stellar nine-year NFL career with Miami and Washington. He was the MVP of the 1973 Super Bowl, which wrapped up the Dolphins' perfect season.
Mandich, a College Hall of Famer from Michigan, was a tight end on those Dolphins' teams and Scott's roommate. He was in the hospital dying of cancer earlier this year when he called Scott and made a request.
"He was going down for the count with cancer, and he said, 'Would you do me a favor?' And I said, 'Jim, I'll do anything you want me to do.' He says, 'If you get in the College Hall of Fame, will you attend?' And I said, 'yes, I'll do anything for you.'
"I thought it was going to be something simple," Scott said with a chuckle.
Scott has built up a reputation of something of a recluse, the J.D. Salinger of defensive backs. Though he certainly doesn't come across as a misanthrope.
"Somebody said, you're hiding out," he said. "I said no I just wasn't there."
Scott was sitting next to Sanders on the dais during the news conference with the other Hall of Famers — that is, when Primetime finally showed up about 15 minutes late.
"First of all I'd like to thank God for allowing me to be here," Sanders said. "I am so exhausted I just was on a red-eye flight from New York, I'm saying New York, from L.A. You can tell I'm still asleep right now. This suit put on itself, but I still think it looks pretty darn good."
When Sanders was done thanking his family, coaches — he said former Florida State defensive coordinator Mickey Andrew taught him everything he knows about playing cornerback — and teammates for helping him get to the hall of fame, it was Scott's turn to speak.
"Well, I want to thank Deion for not speaking 30 or 40 minutes like he usually does," Scott said, getting a hearty laugh from the crowd gathered in the ballroom.
Fittingly, NFF officials weren't able to speak directly to Scott to tell him in May that he had been voted into the hall.
"I was out fishing and about three days later I came back in to where the cellphone works — I was way out past where the cellphone works — there was about 15 messages," he said. "Usually I have about two messages. I said, 'Oh hell, sombody's died.'
"Then when I found out, tears came into my eyes for Mandich."