Chicago Bears Hall of Famer Dan Hampton drew a standing ovation Friday when he gave the keynote address at a dinner for the Northwest Suburban Boy Scout Council.
Never mind that his role as a key defensive player with the Super Bowl champion Chicago Bears took place nearly 30 years ago, he still drew many of those in attendance to pose for pictures with him and seek his autograph.
In fact, his two signed footballs each went for $450 in the oral auction, which helped make the fundraiser successful in raising money for the Mount Prospect-based Council and its Scouting programs and camps.
That pleased Terry Parke, the former Illinois state representative from Schaumburg, who now heads up development for the Scout council.
"I met Dan at a breakfast meeting for the Schaumburg Business Association," Parke said. "I thought he'd be a great speaker for this and I asked him to come."
Hampton conceded right from the start he had not participated in Scouting, but says he grew up immersed in the same kind of values.
"I was raised in the country in Arkansas, with good, old-fashioned morals," Hampton said. "Growing up, we chopped stuff, built fires and went camping. It was great, and Boy Scouting is built on those same principles -- of doing the right thing and having integrity.
"It's all the things today that pop culture mocks," he added. "That's why, whenever I'm asked to speak to Scouts, I'm all in."
During his talk, Hampton told of the injury that kept him out of prep football until his junior year in high school, when he was recruited from the band to play on the team.
He then took guests through his college experience and what it was like being drafted into the NFL, all the way through the chemistry that went into the Bears Super Bowl season.
It wasn't Mike Ditka whom he pointed to as his life-changing coach. It was Lou Holtz, who coached him from 1977-1979 at the University of Arkansas.
"The day they hired Lou Holtz was a big day in my life," Hampton said. "The first thing he did was ask us to write down on a piece of paper our three goals, what did we want to accomplish in life."
Hampton admitted he couldn't think of anything at first, and he began looking around at what his teammates were writing.
"I finally wrote down, 'I want to win a national championship,'" Hampton said. "And when Coach Holtz began reading them, he asked who had written that. I figured every hand would shoot up, but they didn't. I was the only one."
He went on to describe the way Holtz worked from that day to bring the team together to work toward that goal. They went to win the Orange Bowl in 1978, but lost to Alabama in the 1979 Sugar Bowl, that ended their bid for a national championship.
Hampton wouldn't achieve his goal until his Super Bowl season with the Bears, under Ditka. All these years later, it's something he said he still cherishes and he wears his championship ring proudly.
But it was the process of having a goal, Hampton said, of writing it down and working toward accomplishing it -- that stayed with him.