The Pro Football Hall of Fame, Canton, OH
...the pro football Hall of Fame in Canton, OH. Football is America's game, making this place America's secular temple.
While football developed in Pennsylvania, the Hall of Fame is located in Canton for historic reasons, the All American Football League, the precursor to the NFL, was founded here. This is where pro football really developed and grew into what it is today.
The museum is a mixture of exhibits, memorabilia, and great player information.
The initial room gives a chronological history of pro football, noting it's early development and its great early teams.
The old American Football League is given its due, highlighting players such as the Buffalo Bills quarterback (and former congressman and vice presidential candidate) Jack Kemp and New York Jets (when they actually played in New York) quarterback Joe Namath.
Jerseys worn at famous moments, like John Elway's "Drive" are on display.
Dynastic teams, like the Steelers of the 70s and the Raiders of old are given special billing. Futile teams, like the old Tampa Bay Buccaneers, also are given notice.
Classic players like Barry Sanders and classic moments like Charlie Joiner's performance against the Miami Dolphins in the 1982 playoffs are recognized here.
Johnny Unitas' 47 consecutive game touchdown pass record is highlighted. He was truly a special player.
One of my favorite items on display is Steve Christie's sneaker, used to kick the winning field goal during the miracle comeback game against the Houston Oilers.
First and foremost, however, this is a Hall of Fame. The busts of those enshrined here are on display.
Guys like Jim Brown, who may be the greatest running back ever to play the game.
"The Juice" OJ Simpson, who was enshrined here before (allegedly) killing his wife. He is currently using his cutting and slashing (football running) moves on golf courses throughout America looking for the real killer. Hey, I can't be too down on OJ though, I'm a Bills fan, have met OJ (he was a friendly guy) and saw his induction ceremony.
There's Joe Namath. He even looks drunk on his bust.
Buffalo Bills quarterback Jim Kelly, who I've seen play many times. Man he was great.
There's former Seattle Seahawks wide receiver and Oklahoma Congressman Steve Largent, who may be the last white wide receiver to get into the Hall of Fame. He'll also be remembered for losing the gubernatorial race in Oklahoma after declaring he was against cockfighting. They have a different electorate in Oklahoma.
James Lofton, a former Green Bay Packers wide receiver, will be remembered (by me) more for his play on the great Buffalo Bills teams of the early 90s.
My all-time favorite coach, and great guy, Marv Levy is on display. Where would you rather be than right here, right now? Here are some great quotes from Levy.
There is a section in the hall that talks about non-NFL history. It pokes fun at other leagues, like the old World Football League that apparently went bankrupt.
Jim Kelly's uniform from the USFL's Houston Gamblers is on display. Kelly had a great career there before going to the Bills.
Each team has a display for it's Hall of Fame members.
This is the old New York Jets helmet. This is what they wore when they actually played in New York. They have since moved to New Jersey and added an "NY" to their helmet. Leon Hess sucks.
Why did the Tampa Bay Buccaneers ever change from this helmet?
Old helmets are shown throughout the building. This is the old New England Patriot's helmet. Man, I wouldn't want to mess with guys wearing those.
Photographs of football players and fans are hung in the hallways. This is one of depressed Minnesota Vikings fans. They are probably used to disappointment by now.
The football videogame Madden is on display. It's probably the greatest sports game ever made.
In the end, this is what they all play for: the Vince Lombardi Trophy that goes to the Super Bowl winner.
I was elated to have the chance to go to Canton. If you're a football fan, you must go sometime.