Steve Hutchinson waited for what he called “an eternity” to be named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Then he had to wait some more.
The former Minnesota Vikings left guard was elected to the hall in February 2020, in his third year of eligibility, and originally was scheduled to be inducted into the Canton, Ohio, shrine last August. But the coronavirus pandemic pushed that back a year.
“It’s been a pain in the (butt), to be honest with you, the last year, and that’s just COVID in general,” Hutchinson said of the delay on a Zoom call with reporters Wednesday.
Hutchinson’s big day finally will come Aug. 7, when he is enshrined with the other members of the 2020 class. Members of the 2021 class will be inducted the next day.
“It went faster than I thought, but it has been a long wait,” said Hutchinson, who played in the NFL from 2001-12, including 2006-11 with the Vikings.
At least it has given Hutchinson, 43, time to write his induction speech. He will speak after being presented by Robbie Tobeck, the starting center when Hutchinson played for the Seattle Seahawks from 2001-05.
Hutchinson said Wednesday he didn’t necessarily think of making the hall of fame when he was growing up in South Florida and starring in college at Michigan and in the NFL. But he figured it might be something that could happen if he lived up to expectations he set.
“That was kind of the mantra the whole time: I was going to be the best,” Hutchinson said. “I was going to be the best in the league, and wherever that took me afterwards, that was out of my hands anyway.”
The 6-foot-5, 313-pound Hutchinson made four of his seven Pro Bowls and had three of his five first-team all-pro selections with the Vikings. He earned his other postseason accolades with the Seahawks, and also played a year with the Tennessee Titans before retiring after the 2012 season.
After being selected by Seattle with the No. 17 pick in the 2001 draft, Hutchinson spent his first three season in the NFL facing off in practice against future hall of fame defensive tackle John Randle. Randle starred with the Vikings from 1990-2000 before playing with the Seahawks from 2001-03.
“It was sometime in the training camp of my second year in Seattle, there was a stretch there where — and he’ll probably tell you differently — he didn’t beat me in one-on-ones in practice,” remembered Hutchinson, who lives in Nashville, Tenn., and works as a football consultant with the Seahawks. “I think for me it like was a little bit of an awakening. …. Going against John made Sunday seem like it was slow motion at times.”
Hutchinson signed a seven-year, $49 million contract as a free agent with the Vikings in 2006 after getting a transition tag from Seattle. It was dubbed a “poison-pill” deal since, if the Seahawks matched it, the entire contract would be guaranteed (rather than $18.5 million) if Hutchinson wasn’t the highest-paid offensive lineman on his team. Since the Seahawks had signed future hall of fame tackle Walter Jones to a more lucrative deal, they didn’t match the Vikings’ offer.
With the Vikings, Hutchinson said he got even better by battling Pro Bowl defensive tackles Kevin Williams and Pat Williams in practice.
“There’s the cliché, the old saying in football, iron sharpens iron, and when you got to go against Kevin and Pat every day in practice, it just makes your job on Sunday easier,” Hutchinson said. “That’s just another testament and another reason why I’m here talking to you about me going into the hall of fame.”
Kevin Williams and Pat Williams both are planning to attend Hutchinson’s enshrinement in Canton.
“Man, Steve was massive out there,” Kevin Williams, who one day could join Hutchinson in the hall of fame, said about battling him in practice. “It was tough to get around him and he was so patient and strong. It was definitely great in practice to work against him because if I’m going against one of the best guys in the league at guard, that’s only making me better. … He’s very well deserving of the hall of fame, and I’m going to be there to celebrate with him.”