Most of my readers know I love football, and watch every game I can during the season. On my bucket list for some time now has been to see the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, OH. After my brother-in-law’s wedding in Columbus, OH, we drove up to Canton to spend a few hours seeing the exhibits. My Sweet Babboo estimated we’d need about 3 hours. We stayed 5-1/2! I had to see every video, read every exhibit, play with all the hands-on displays, watch the two movies, admire all the bling and take lots of pictures.
The exhibits begin with a gallery of award winning sports photographs with incredible shots of football action.
This modest display shows the jewelry awarded to one of the first championship games, in the earliest days of the NFL.
Large exhibits began by featuring the decades of football history beginning with the very first guy to get paid to play the game in 1892.
Every decade highlighted the advances made during that time, with a video about the commissioner for those years. Displays included jerseys worn at the time, equipment used and in some cases, trophies awarded.
Rules changes are highlighted as well as new teams for the decade.
In the 1990s, free agency began, allowing players to move between teams at the end of their contract.
Fun facts included this lesson on scoring and how it has changed over the years.
A large exhibit is dedicated to the records held by players and when they were set.
Interactive displays allowed the visitor to experience some of the game aspects. On this one, you could put on the helmet (I didn’t, but I did hold it up to my ear) and listen to coaches calling plays to the quarterback.
On this one, you could put your hand in the grip used by three quarterbacks. Their hands are huge! The display noted how each one held the ball just a bit differently, putting their fingers in slightly different positions over the laces.
The formations on the field, and advances in play design were hightlighted in several large exhibits.
Sunday Night Football on NBC has a display with one of their Emmys. The Emmy is reflected in the glass on the right. This show set records for viewership, and has won the award for Outstanding Live Sports shows eleven times, more than any other sports show in history. It has won a total of 30 sports Emmy awards, including four for Michele Tafoya for Outstanding Sports Reporting.
Every aspect of the game had a display, with this one devoted to officiating.
The HOF did have two videos on the NFL’s role in Sports Medicine, including the work on concussion protocols. However, they glossed over their neglect in the early years when this was coming to light, and that was disappointing. I’d like to see them own that mistake.
In the hall’s Bust Gallery, photos were difficult due to the lighting of every platform. But I took a bunch of photos of players I recognized, along with the Fox NFL guys. Here is Terry Bradshaw, a quarterback, now sportscaster for Fox NFL Sunday.
Howie Long, defensive player, also now a sportscaster for Fox.
John Madden, my favorite sportscaster of all time. The years he called the games with Pat Summerall were outstanding. I still like watching those classic games just to hear them talk about the game and the plays, and watch John Madden with the new-at-the-time telestrator.
This is Jimmy Johnson, the coach that made the draft into a suspense show. He was fun to watch as he led the Cowboys to their Super Bowl wins in the 90s. I like his coach’s perspective on the game during the pre-game shows now.
Hall of Fame inductees receive a large diamond ring shaped like a football, along with the gold jacket and a bust in the Hall of Busts.
Of course, the Super Bowl had more than 50 displays, one for every Super Bowl played, and I had to see them all.
There it is, the Lombadi Trophy awarded to the NFL Super Bowl winner. You can see me in the mirror on the left, wearing my Panthers t-shirt.
There was a display of every Super Bowl ring ever made, and it was interesting to see how they have evolved over the years. Starting rather modestly, the number and amount of diamonds, other stones, and gold, along with special features grew over the years. The number of diamonds, placement and shapes are loaded with meaning. For Super Bowl LIII (53), the New England Patriots had a record 422 diamonds on their ring. For Super Bowl LV (55), the Tampa Bay Buccaneers sport a record setting 15 carats of diamonds, and a flip open top revealing a miniature representation of the stadium. They were the first team to play in and win a Super Bowl in their home stadium. You can see the story and the symbolism on that ring HERE.
Overall, I enjoyed this day to the fullest! The 2022 Hall of Fame enshrinement weekend will take place August 4-7, starting with the first preseason game. This year will have the unveiling of a new display devoted to the USFL, the spring league that played in 2022. I got a sneak peek at that. This year will also see the first Carolina Panther inducted as a Panther. Three other players are in the hall that played for the Panthers, but they were with other teams when they retired from the game. Sam Mills was a defensive linebacker, and later a coach for the Panthers. He had to battle cancer while coaching, and his message to ‘keep pounding’ became a team motto still used today. He died in 2005. His jersey, number 51, was the first number to be retired by the Panthers.
I went to the store in the HOF after our tour, fully prepared to pay a lot for a full color hardbound book on the hall exhibits and history. I was surprised to find they don’t have one! Although you can buy jerseys and tchotchkes for all the teams, there is very little HOF other than t-shirts, hats and coffee mugs.
When we got home, I decided that my new smart phone needed a new ringtone, so it is now the Fox NFL music, LOL!! I know most of my readers won’t make it to the end of this post, because only a few are football fans. But if you are still reading, what is on your bucket list?