FLORENCE — John Mobley's journey to Friday night's Harlon Hill Trophy & Division II Hall of Fame Awards Banquet was right out of the movie "Planes, Trains and Automobiles."
The former Kutztown and Denver Broncos linebacker had his early morning flight from Orlando delayed and finally cancelled due to mechanical problems. After switching airlines got him nowhere he finally got an afternoon flight that included a 90-minute layover in Washington D.C.
He arrived in Huntsville at 5:45 and with a police escort was able to make it to his hotel and get to the ceremony just in time for his induction into the Division II Hall of Fame. Former Fort Valley State and 13-year NFL veteran Tyrone Poole was also inducted.
"Everything started off right this morning," Mobley said. "We woke up, but after that things went downhill."
Mobley said he is honored to be included with some of the great names from Division II football.
"You are amongst the elite of Division II, which is not something to be taken lightly," he said. "You're amongst Walter Peyton, Harry Carson, John Stallworth, and Shannon Sharp, who I played with. I'm very honored and blessed to be mentioned with those great players."
Mobley played linebacker from 1991-95 at Kutztown (Pa.) and was an All-American as a senior. He was the 15th overall pick in the 1996 NFL Draft by the Denver and went on to win two Super Bowls with the Broncos during his eight seasons (1996-2003) with the franchise.
During his career in the NFL, Mobley played in 105 career games, starting 102 of them for the Broncos, including two Super Bowls. He made 608 career tackles, has 10.5 quarterback sacks and five interceptions.
Mobley said playing in Division II is a great motivator.
"It creates an edge," he said. "You actually work harder. I'm not saying that Division I players don't work hard, but the Division II players that make it to the NFL have established a work ethic when they were way done because they had to aspire to be what we saw on TV.
"That work ethic doesn't stop even when you get there because you always feel like you add up. You always feel like someone is looking down on you and you do the little things the other don't do. That's the difference."
Poole was a consensus All-American pick at cornerback as a senior at Fort Valley State in 1994 and was a first-round draft pick by the Carolina Panthers in 1995. He went on to be a part of two Super Bowl Championship teams with the New England Patriots.
"It's an honor to be considered one of the best to have played Division II football," Poole said. "It's also an honor to keep the legacy alive so that other young athletes can realize that it's not where you go but what you do when you get there that is important. Greatness is all about what effort you put toward it."
Poole told the story of quitting his high school football team after a disagreement with his coach. He managed to earn a scholarship to Fort Valley and went on to become an NFL standout.
"I feel like my life can be an inspiration for some who feel they might have been dealt a bad hand," Poole said. "Even if you created that hand yourself, with the right vision you can right that ship. It may take time turn your situation around, but eventually you will see your course change."
Jeff McIntyre can be reached at 256-740-5737 or jeff.mcintyre@TimesDaily.com.