CANTON, Ohio — He's the man responsible for Don Shula, Jerry Rice and Emmitt Smith.
Oh, and Lee Roy Selmon and Warren Sapp.
Who knew a little-known ex- BYU running back would have as profound an impact on pro football as Blair Buswell has?
He is the man who has created many of the bronze busts in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. His busts include the only two Bucs, Selmon and Sapp. "It was a lot of fun," Buswell said of sculpting Sapp. "He has those big eyes and big personality."
Sapp requested Buswell sculpt his bust because he is a fan of his work. He also had a specific request for his bust.
"He came right up and said, 'Can you do braids?' " Buswell said. "He just kept talking about braids. I'm not the only sculptor, but he wanted me to do him because he'd heard about my work."
Sapp's bust will be the Hall's first with braids.
"I tried to play them down," Buswell said. "But it will be unique. I'm sure that's why he wanted it."
Sculpting busts has given Buswell memorable experiences. Coaches including Tom Landry, Bill Walsh and Bill Parcells have sat for him, sharing personal memories.
"(Thursday), when I went back through (the Hall) by myself — this is my 30th anniversary — just looking at all the guys, all the stories came back," Buswell said, "the stories they told to me about when they played and who they played against. They've all posed for me. So I go to their homes, or they come to my studio. And we spend a day or two just talking football while I'm sculpting them. It's been amazing."
Historic: OT Jonathan Ogden today becomes the first Raven to make it to Canton. Though he takes much pride in his personal achievements, he takes a measure of satisfaction in what the franchise has accomplished. "The organization has come a long way in the past 17 years, from no colors to no anything to two Super Bowl championships," he said. "To know that I was a part of a lot of that, the building of that, it makes me proud."
Sapp on Cooper: Sapp commented on Eagles WR Riley Cooper, a former Clearwater Central Catholic and Gator standout who was caught on video using a racial slur at a Kenny Chesney concert: "He wasn't in a team setting, but you still have to know your place. You've still got to go back in that locker room. I don't get that. He's going to find out what it's about now."
Bucs presence: Among those expected to attend today's ceremony are former Bucs Derrick Brooks and Ronde Barber; members of the Glazer family, which owns the Bucs, and former Bucs coaches Jon Gruden and Tony Dungy.