Sundays we watched what my father wanted to watch and that was football. Johnny U, Arty
Donovan and Lenny Moore were names that were very familiar to me. Fast forward many years and I marry the FOOTBAL FAN. He says for many years he watched every game, every Sunday. Thanks to ESPN and the NFL network , he still does, he just spreads it out all week! Because of all this television, I've become familiar with the other teams and the television personalities.
The Hall itself is a treat for the casual fan as well as the FOOTBALL FAN. There are 3 levels that detail the history of the league from its beginnings until today. We went both Saturday and Tuesday. And we needed both days to see it all. Saturday it was jam packed and you could hardly move. If you stood still for a moment the momentum of the crowd would carry you along. Tuesday it was a lot less crowed (almost empty) and you could actually see the exhibits. If you go and only have 1 day, I'd recommend going as soon as it opens, do the bust room first and then go back and see the rest of the museum. Saturday the wait to see the bust room was an hour!
I am a history buff and love the way the hall weaves the history of America in with the history of the sport and the league. The one thing I didn't see was the reason for the gold jackets the enshrinees wear. I loved seeing families come through and watching the kids faces as they participated in the interactive exhibits and their enthusiasm for the game.
The bust room was fun. Every player the "committee" deems worthy is enshrined in the hall. It was fun seeing the busts of people whose names with which I was familiar. The names I mentioned above and Gayle Sayers' (Brian's Song), Deion Sanders (Neon Deion), Joe Green (Mean Joe Green of Pepsi commercial fame) and really too many to mention.
The ceremony itself was exciting. It was fun to just be a fan. To see Tom Jackson in his brown suit. I wonder if has any other color? He had on wild pink and green socks. Unfortunately, I couldn't get close enough to see if they were hand knit. I did have the presence of mind not to shout , "Hey Tom, I love your socks!" We did see all the TV personalities we watch during the week.
Of the seven enshrinees this year, I was most interested in Jonathan Ogden and Chris Carter. Ogden, because he was a Raven. I find Chris Carter's story interesting. He's from a single parent family and straitened circumstances. He had substance abuse problems in his early days in the league and overcame those problems to become the best at his position. He's quite frank about his difficulties and the help he received along the way. In the playbacks I've seen of his speech, they've edited his comments to delete his reference to his love of God, which lead up to his final comments.
I'm aware of the controversy surrounding football and all professional sports. The money, the drugs, the concussions, the undue adulation paid to the players. But stories like Carter's help me keep it in perspective. I love hearing stories of the guys who've used the game to improve the lot of their families, the respect they have for their parents, families and coaches who sacrificed so they could live their dreams. Like all things there are two sides to the story. Unfortunately the bad is often more reported than the good.
If you have any dietary concerns, eat before and after you leave for the hall. The only food available is stadium food, but the prices are better. My only disappointment was that I was unable to get one of the free bags they were giving out to hold your things as only clear bags were permitted into the hall or ceremony. It would have made an excellent project bag! I'm giving considerable thought to writing and