More than a rivalry

Florida-Georgia Hall of Fame continues tradition


The 2022 class of the Florida-Georgia Hall of Fame was inducted during a ceremony Oct. 28 at the East Club inside TIAA Bank Field.

Each year two former players or coaches from both schools get inducted and recognized for their play during their football careers, and it has become a tradition and part of the festivities the day before the teams faceoff in their annual rivalry showdown in Jacksonville.

Fans from both teams were in attendance to see Trey Bruton and Andre “Bubba” Caldwell be inducted from Florida and John Little and Champ Bailey represent Georgia.

“You never expect this, and it isn’t why you play the game, but at the same time, it is such an honor, because there have been so many unbelievable players that have played in this game over the years,” Burton said.

For Burton, the journey has come full circle for, as he grew up a diehard Gators fan and now he has children of his own and he was able to take them to their first ever Gators game the day after he was inducted into the Florida-Georgia Hall of Fame.

“I grew up bleeding orange and blue, and now I’m just happy that my kids are able to be here and be a part of this,” Burton said.

He also had a memorable career in the NFL and threw the touchdown pass as part of the now famous “Philly Special” play that helped the Philadelphia Eagles win Super Bowl 52 in 2018.

John Little also grew up in Florida but chose to attend Georgia, which gave him a unique perspective when it comes to the rivalry.

“I’ve always felt that the Georgia-Florida game just meant more,” Little said. “I remember just wanting to beat them so bad. It was treated like a bowl game by both students and fans. It was ‘College Gameday’ (weekly kickoff show on ESPN) before ‘College Gameday.’”

Caldwell could not hold back his emotion during his acceptance speech and his vibes of pure excitement reverberated throughout the room.

“This is big, and I’m here,” Caldwell chuckled. “I made it baby. This is seriously the greatest rivalry in all of college football.”

He thanked his older brother Reche Caldwell, who also played wide receiver at the University of Florida prior to Andre stepping onto campus, for helping pave the path for him to follow.

“He’s the reason I’m a Gator,” Caldwell said. “I’m so proud to have carried on that legacy.”

Champ Bailey has gotten used to being inducted into hall of fames in recent years, as he is also a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame following more than a decade long career in the NFL.

He grew up in Folkston, Georgia, which it’s proximity to the Florida state line left the town split about 50/50 when it came to rooting for the Bulldogs or the Gators.

However, it was his mother’s passion for the Dawgs that fueled his love for them as well.

He reminisced about Steve Spurrier coming into his living room to recruit him and then later playing for Spurrier and having many Gator teammates over the years in the NFL.

“With all those connections to Florida, you can bet I’m a Gator hater,” Bailey chuckled, as his comment brought about several barks and chomps from Bulldogs and Gators fans attending the ceremony and signified the rivalry in a nutshell.


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