At the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame induction Friday night in Nashville, people close to John Hudson attributed his successes on the football field and in life to his hard work and dedication.
The former Henry County High School star offensive lineman and current offensive line coach was inducted into the hall of fame with 10 other honorees at a nearly four-hour ceremony at the Renaissance Hotel across the street from the hall of fame’s home at Bridgestone Arena.
Hudson’s career included four years at Auburn University, where he earned all-SEC honors his senior year as a center, and an NFL career as a long snapper with the New York Jets, Philadelphia Eagles and the Baltimore Ravens. Hudson won a Super Bowl ring with the Ravens in 2000.
“It’s humbling for me to be inducted with these people,” Hudson said. “I looked at the other people and thought it must be a mistake for me to get in.”
A video clip of Hudson discussing his career was played during the ceremony, followed by a brief acceptance speech where Hudson thanked the many influential people in his career.
“I’ve had a lot of great coaches and they taught me how to work,” Hudson said. “And I did work. I had some really good position coaches — guys you don’t like while they’re making you work, but you appreciate years later.”
A party of more than 40 Henry Countians, friends and colleagues made the trip to watch Hudson be inducted and greeted him with a standing ovation when he came to the podium to accept his award.
“My father (former Buffalo Bills offensive lineman Bill Hudson) was right, when your career is over you get better that day. Because I’m a whole lot better today than I was back then,” Hudson said with a laugh.
John Hudson is one of very few father-son duos to be inducted into the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame as Bill Hudson was inducted years earlier.
“I think he deserved it,” Bill Hudson said of his son. “He was the most absolutely dominant high school lineman I ever saw, and I’ve seen a lot of high school football.
“He started working young and he kept on. He accomplished what he did strictly off of hard work.”
To illustrate the fruits of John Hudson’s hard work, the elder Hudson said his son bench pressed more than 400 pounds regularly in high school.
John Hudson’s hard work has spilled over into his current profession as a teacher and football coach, according to former HCHS head coach Joe Gaddis.
“John is a great man and an absolutely phenomenal football coach,” Gaddis said. “He is very modest about these things, but his players respect him and play hard for him.
“He is a tireless worker that’s not afraid to put in the time needed to be a great coach and to the work needed to make his players great. I’m thrilled I was able to hire him and miss coaching with John a lot.”
Hudson’s hard work even spills over to his private life. Trent Bullock, the minister at First Baptist Church in Paris where Hudson is a Sunday school teacher and deacon, described Hudson as a great role model to everyone around him.
“He’s a man of few words, and I admire that,” Bullock said. “He’s a great model for his students … just the way he carries himself.
“He prefers to be in the background. He is solid. What you see is what you get with John.”
During his acceptance speech, Hudson thanked the people, starting with his parents, who had instilled a never-tiring work ethic in him, Hudson told the crowd that everyone had to battle laziness and that was one of the things he had to teach the players he coaches now.
Even though he eventually reached the NFL, Hudson didn’t always eat, sleep and breathe football.
“When I was a kid I didn’t like football much,” Hudson told the crowd. “I didn’t have much interest until junior high. My brothers played at (the University of Tennessee at Martin) and that’s where I hoped to play.”
Hudson recalled his visit to Auburn, where he fell in love with the small town atmosphere, saying that it felt the most comfortable. He told the crowd he was most proud of beating Alabama all four years he was at Auburn.
“I worked very hard to put myself in position to make teams over the years,” Hudson said. “Basically when you snap punts in the NFL, if you keep the head coach from knowing your name, you’d have been doing good. And that’s what I tried to do.”