On the day where Alan Faneca finds out if he’s going to Canton, William Gay has been inducted into the 2017 Kentucky Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Teresa Varley over at Steelers.com has a great article with some quotes from Gay on his journey. He was born in Florida but attended school at Louisville. He exploded during his senior year,intercepting six passes and racking up 59 total tackles.
Gay was part of Mike Tomlin’s first draft class, taken in the 5th round. He was heavily criticized, often unfairly, during his first stint with the team from 2007-2011. He spent a year in Arizona before coming back to Pittsburgh, legitimately playing at a higher level but finally getting respect and recognition from most fans.
He’s most well-known for his penchant for making house calls with five interceptions returned for touchdowns. Three of those came in 2014 to lead the league.
In his Steelers’ career, he started 86 games, picking off 10 passes, and forcing five fumbles.
“I was never the best kid as far as athleticism,” Gay told Varley. “It’s big. Coming from Tallahassee, I came from a smaller city. To be recognized in a bigger city that I didn’t know I was going to when I came out of high school, it’s amazing. I am so thankful and humbled to get the opportunity. I looked at the list of people that have been inducted into the Kentucky Pro Football Hall of Fame, and there are some Hall of Fame guys in there. It’s an honor to put my name next to those guys.”
Included in the Hall of Fame are former Steeler Dirt Dawson who was inducted in 2003. Other well-known football players Gay will join include: Elvis Dumervil, Mark Clayton (Dolphins’ version, not Ravens), Phil Simms, and Buddy Ryan. Fellow Steeler Dwayne Woodruff was selected in 2005. If you’re interested, here is the entire list.
In addition to his on the field presence, he has had a significant impact in the community. Gay has been on the frontlines of domestic violence awareness. He’s been awarded the Steelers’ Walter Payton Man Of the Year and Ed Block Courage Awards in 2014 and 2015, respectively.
Tomlin said the following after Gay’s award in 2015.
“Over the last nine years, I’ve watched this guy grow to the point where, not only is he willing to talk about [his story] in an effort to help others, he’s also willing to use his platform that is the National Football League and playing in it as a means to shine a light on something that needs to be openly talked about.”
Gay will be inducted on June 23rd.