Looping back through Ohio, we swung by Canton to visit the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Approaching Canton, we wondered why this place was built here. Constructed in 1963, it is literally, in the middle of nowhere.
Turns out that Jim Thorpe, one of America’s most famous athletes, played for the Canton Bulldogs back in 1915. The Bulldogs were the first organized football team to actually pay players to play. Accounting ledgers from those early days detail payments to athletes. This early version of football only provided leather helmets for protection – which is still more than the current sport of rugby.
Nowadays players are decked out in high-tech shoulder pads, plastic shock-absorbing helmets, thigh pads, and hip protection. The Hall traces the history of my favorite sport, with historic tickets, programs, movie footage, and displays and history of early stadiums.
Uniforms of famous players are presented in their lockers – Red Grange, Bronco Nagurski, Jim Thorpe, Johnny Unitas, Dick Butkus, Jerry Rice, and Joe Montana – a good mix of the old and new. The actual Hall of Fame has busts of all players inaugurated into this mecca of honor – including one of O.J. Simpson directly below the former commissioner Pete Rozelle.
Pick your favorite team and relive momentous plays from the past, watch footage of these Hall of Famers in action, or acquaint yourself with the history of this sport, from its rough beginnings, through the days of the AFL and NFL, and up to modern day Super Bowls. One of the highlights was watching a film – ‘The Road to the Super Bowl’ – which featured my team, the reigning champion Green Bay Packers.
Hey, 200,000 people a year make the trek to this sports haven in the middle of Ohio. It is worth the journey for die-hard football fans like myself.