"You've got to understand that this is all about people that touched you, that shaped you as a young man," Dent said Monday on "The Waddle & Silvy Show" on ESPN 1000. "Buddy and Mike got me as a finished product. This is not about football. This is about life. This is about who helps you in life and to help you fulfill some of your dreams. That's what it's about."
Dent thanked many people during his speech on Saturday in Canton, Ohio, but most were from his childhood or college days at Tennessee State, which sent the school band to support him.
"It's not about people. It's not about Buddy Ryan and Mike Ditka," Dent said. "It's about people that touched you in your life, the people that dealt with me real early, and it was Miss Knight and Miss Payton."
During his speech he said the two women from his neighborhood helped him growing up. Payton gave him his first job and the 93-year-old Knight "looked out for me."
Dent, a four-time Pro Bowler and MVP of Super Bowl XX, finished with eight or more sacks for 10 straight seasons. He is tied for sixth on the league's all-time sack list with 137½. He entered the Hall with fellow classmates Deion Sanders, Marshall Faulk, Shannon Sharpe, Chris Hanburger, Les Richter and Ed Sabol.
Dent said he missed a few others he wanted to thank, including his grandparents.
"I missed a guy, [former Bears linebacker] Otis Wilson, who I'm hurting about now," Dent said. "Otis was one of the first guys when I got there with Jim Osbourne -- some people who kind of help you and teach you what was taking place. Brian McCaskey was another guy I wanted to talk about."