Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Pro Football Hall of Fame

With a whole week between games in Cincinnati and Buffalo, I had some time to relax. The Pro Football Hall of Fame is in Canton, OH, about 4 hours northeast of Cincinnati when you take some smaller highways after reaching Columbus. I drove to Canton on Tuesday and spent most of Wednesday afternoon touring the Hall.

The admission is $22 ($19.80 with the AAA discount) and that is expensive but well worth it if you are a fan of the game. Growing up in Canada, I didn't really have a chance to follow the league closely until the early 1980s, and we were not indoctrinated on the history of the game as we were with hockey and baseball. So for me, a visit to the Hall of Fame is more educational than anything else. However, I also enjoy seeing memorabilia from games I attended. Below is Peyton Manning's jersey from the season opener where he threw 7 TD passes, the game that started the NFL Stadium Journey.

The highlight is probably the Hall of Fame Gallery, which includes busts for every enshrinee. Very impressive.

Below are some pictures which I have included to show you some of the interesting facts I learned and memorabilia I saw during my visit.

The NFL played several exhibition games in Canada in the 1950s and 1960s. The first game saw the New York Giants visiting my hometown to take on the Ottawa Rough Riders in August 1950. The two leagues played 7 games over the next 11 years, with the NFL winning 6. The program above is from 1961, a game Chicago won 34-16.

In 1957, the San Francisco 49ers led Detroit 24-7 at halftime of the Western Conference Championship. With victory assured, the team started selling tickets to the NFL Championship. Of course, Detroit came back to win 31-27, rendering the above ticket useless.

Each Hall of Fame enshrinee receives a ring, like the one above. Actually the real ring is a bit different, mainly because it is real. The photo above is of a hologram; when you step back the ring disappears. Very cool.

David Tyree's helmet used in the Helmet Catch in Super Bowl XLII.

I have seen 10 Super Bowl trophies on the trip so far, above is number 11. This is the trophy that will be awarded at Super Bowl XLVIII to be held at MetLife Stadium in February, 2014. I hope to be there.

This shoe was used by Steve Christie to kick the game winning field goal when the Bills came back on the Houston Oilers in the 1993 Wild Card game. Down 35-3 at halftime, Buffalo stormed back to take a 38-35 lead, only to have Houston tie the game at 38 and send it to overtime, where Christie kicked the winning field goal. I watched the entire game at a bar in Ottawa and was fairly well oiled myself by halftime, but vaguely remember the excitement at the end. It was yet another reminder that you never leave a game early, even when watching on TV.

Finally, the Hall has a large shop that you pass through on your way out. There is a sale rack; the two jerseys above are recent additions. I might have bought one for $5, but they were still somewhere around $50, a bit much for something useless.

If you are a football fan, make a pilgrimage to Canton. You can easily spend 3-4 hours here learning about the history of the league. The Hall honours not only the players, but the coaches and administrators who have made the NFL the dominant sports league in the United States today.



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