The Pro Football Hall of Fame is constantly adding mementos to its collection of football artifacts. Each year, the Hall of Fame obtains items of historic nature in order to chronicle the storied history of the National Football League.
Typically this time of year, the items obtained by our curatorial staff are from history-making moments that occur from each weekend around the NFL such as Peyton Manning’s jersey and football
from his seven-touchdown performance on Kickoff Thursday. But, we also occasionally get “gems” from the past.
Such was the case a couple of weeks ago. Hall of Fame guard Tom Mack
came back to Canton to participate in our annual Golf Classic fundraising tournament. He not only arrived in town with his golf clubs but also brought five game-used objects from his great career with the Los Angeles Rams from 1966 to 1978.
Our staff is always asking, and reminding, Hall of Famers that they ought to help the Hall of Fame with its mission of preserving the game by donating significant artifacts from their career. For a couple of years Hall of Fame Vice President Joe Horrigan has given Mack a few such friendly reminders.
“I had to get him off my back,” Mack joked about finally handing over three jerseys, a pair shoes, and his helmet.
The Class of 1999 enshrinee is actually honored and excited to know that these pieces of history will be properly preserved and cared for by the museum professionals in Canton and most likely find their way on exhibit.
“That part was kind of neat because I grew up in Ohio,” reflected Mack who was born and raised in nearby Cleveland.
During a telephone conversation yesterday, Mack shared that he doesn’t have many more items from his stellar career as one of the game’s finest offensive lineman. One of his Pro Bowl jerseys hangs in a bar in New Orleans. Two of his game worn Rams jerseys are in the bedrooms of his grandsons.
“They probably don’t have a clue,” he remarked about whether or not they know much about what their grandpa did on the football field.
Well, to set the record straight, Tom Mack was drafted out of the University of Michigan by the Rams as the second player selected overall in the 1966 NFL Draft. He promptly won a starting role on a veteran laden team. For 13 seasons as the team’s left guard, he never missed a game while he helped the Rams to winning seasons in all but one year he played. The team claimed eight division titles while Mack was named to the Pro Bowl eleven times and voted first-team All-NFL five times.
Now, thanks to Tom’s donation, the Hall of Fame can better tell his story with the use of authentic artifacts from a Hall of Fame career. Among the items he gave to the Hall are three jerseys (one from the 1969 season, one from the early 1970s, and one presumably from the 1978 Pro Bowl).
He wore the shoes in the early ‘70s. This particular pair was made with hardened rubber so the shoes wouldn’t bend and therefore help protect his bothersome foot. The helmet is one he wore pre-1973 before the Rams changed from blue and white to yellow and blue. This helmet was painted for one of his numerous Pro Bowl appearances.
We call them legends. There are 280 members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. There is always something extra special about these great football men. Once they put on that Hall of Fame Gold Jacket and have their careers noted by a bronzed bust, their lives are changed forever.
There’s a certain luster that shines on all of these men whenever they make appearances. And whenever they’re included in some type of celebration around the NFL, the occasions seem to carry a higher level of prestige. The memories of greatness come flowing back in an instant.
Such was the case on Sunday at MetLife Stadium when legendary coach Bill Parcells
was the first of the seven-man Class of 2013 to receive his Hall of Fame Ring. The New York Giants put on quite the halftime extravaganza as they included five other Hall of Fame greats on stage with Parcells. On hand were quarterback Y.A. Tittle
, linebackers Harry Carson
, Sam Huff
, and Lawrence Taylor
; and halfback Frank Gifford
. It was a memorable day that allowed the Giants fans to soak in the tradition of this great franchise. In case you missed it, here’s the presentation as Bill becomes a bit choked up with the honor.
Also, in case you missed it, Parcells was the first Hall of Famer to receive the newly designed ring. Check out some of the intricacies of the ring created by our new partner Kay® Jewelers. Hall of Fame Ring>>>
Meanwhile on the other coast, Hall of Fame linebacker Ted Hendricks
honored the memory of his late Hall of Fame owner Al Davis
. Hendricks lit the ceremonial flame in remembrance of Davis prior to the Raiders’ win over the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday. This tradition precedes the kickoff of each of Oakland’s home games.
Speaking of Hall of Famers, there are about 20 of them gracing us in Canton for our annual Enshrinees’ Golf Classic. The group of football greats teed it up this morning for our 19th annual golf tournament that raises funds to support the Hall’s museum initiatives. A special thanks to these Hall of Famers who “came home” to Canton to support the Hall.
If you’re scoring at home, the Hall of Famers competed in a fun putting contest that landed a few dollars in the pockets of the three of them. Finishing first, second, and third at Glenmoor Country Club’s practice green were Leroy Kelly
, Joe DeLamielleure
, and Mike Haynes
Here’s the group of Hall of Famers (front two rows) posing with all of the outing’s participants before the start of the scramble format tournament this morning
On Saturday, we honor our local community that was pivotal in making the Pro Football Hall of Fame become a reality for Canton, Ohio a half century ago. We’re holding a Community Celebration Day
on the 50th Anniversary of when we first opened our doors on Sept. 7, 1963.
On the same day we welcomed our first visitor, we also enshrined the first 17 of the now 280 members of the Hall of Fame.
Some of the names may resonate better than others but here’s a brief description of these legends honored on our first day of operation 50 years ago.
revolutionized the NFL’s passing game. Today, he still holds the record for most seasons leading the league in passing (6, a mark tied by Steve Young). He also played defensive back and was one of the game’s great punters. His 1940 punting average of 51.40 has never been equaled.
impact on the game was nearly immeasurable. First, as the owner of the Philadelphia Eagles and co-owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers, he made his biggest impact as the league’s commissioner from 1946 to 1959. His extraordinary vision and work on television exposure helped the game grow to new heights.
, the former owner of the pro football Columbus Panhandles, reigned over the NFL as the league president from 1921 to 1939. Among his contributions were standard player contracts, rules development and his leadership that helped the NFL from a fledgling endeavor to a sports league ripe for great growth.
was not only the Detroit Lions biggest star but one of the NFL’s most notable athletes during the 1930s. He possessed a great football mind, quick thinking, and great athletic ability as he earned All-NFL honors six times in his seven-season career. A footnote, pun intended, is that Clark also was the league’s last big-time dropkick specialist.
was as big of a college football star that there may have ever been. His signing with the Chicago Bears in 1925 is arguably the most pivotal historic moment in the league’s history. His notoriety brought the pro game into the national spotlight. Oh, and he also led the Bears to back-to-back world championships in 1932 and 1933.
, the namesake of the Hall of Fame’s street address (2121 George Halas Drive), is simply known as pro football’s “Papa Bear.” From the day he attended the NFL’s formation meeting in 1920 through his death in 1983, Halas never stopped contributing to the success of pro football. He has achieved great success as a player, coach, and owner. And no man ever, and possible never, will match his 40 seasons of serving as a NFL head coach.
was a star attraction in New York City even though he played on the offensive line. The Giants center played 60 minutes a game for 15 seasons. He was injured only once yet never missed a game during his Hall of Fame career from 1931 to 1945. Hein even was named the NFL’s Most Valuable Player in the Giants’ 1938 championship season.
Wilbur “Pete” Henry
was a huge name and a huge player for his day. The tackle weighed in at nearly 250 pounds and ranked among the most powerful players of the 1920s. His greatest days came with the Canton Bulldogs who he helped become the NFL’s first two-time champion. Noted for his kicking ability, he once punted the football 94 yards and also dropkicked a 50-yard field goal.
, the only man enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the National Baseball Hall of Fame, was a domating tackle for the New York Giants and Green Bay Packers before finishing up with one season with Pittsburgh. He was named All-NFL six straight years from 1928-1933 and selected as the NFL’s all-time tackle in 1969.
Legendary receiver Don Hutson retired with so many records (18) he was also
granted one additional mark, the now defunct statistic of “Most Records Held.”
was the “Jerry Rice” of his day or should we say Jerry Rice was the "Don Hutson" of his day? In 11 seasons from 1935 to 1945, Hutson established himself as the game’s first prolific pass catcher. His statistics were so staggering that it took decades and multiple players to break the receiving marks he set during his Hall of Fame career with the Green Bay Packers.
has a stadium in Green Bay named after him since he was the founder of the pre-NFL Packers in 1919 and steered the franchise through 1949. He played halfback during the 1920s but it was his coaching that earned him a bust in Canton. Credited as the first coach to truly integrate the forward pass into their game plan, he racked up 229 career victories, the most in franchise history.
, despite heavy personal financial losses, believed in the NFL and the how important it was to have a franchise in the country’s largest city. As founder of the New York Giants in 1925, he guided the team to great success while helping the league gain a firm footing on the sports scene. His Giants won three league titles during his tenure.
George Preston Marshall
, at times controversial and always flamboyant, showcased his Washington Redskins. He started the Boston Braves in 1932, changed the nickname a year later, and moved the team to Washington in 1937. Noted for adding entertainment to the games, he was also an integral leader on the league level and pioneered numerous progressive rule changes.
Johnny “Blood” McNally
may go down in NFL history as the most colorful character on an off the field. Known as a free spirit, his athleticism made him one of the flashiest runners, and great pass receiver, of his era in the 1920 and ‘30s. His finest days came in a Packers uniform.
Bronislaw Nagurski, better known as “Bronko” was most noted for his terrific
strength and toughness.
was a big, rugged fullback on offense and punishing linebacker on defense for the Chicago Bears in the 1940s. His play earned him All-NFL honors five times in eight seasons before he retired after the 1937 season. After five-year layoff, he returned for one last season and helped the Bears win the 1943 NFL Championship.
played just five seasons in the NFL, two with the Duluth Eskimos and three with the Chicago Cardinals, but his performance was so spectacular he was a sure pick for Canton. Named All-NFL each season he played, Nevers scored an amazing 40 points on Thanksgiving Day 1929. That mark has never been matched and remains the league’s longest-standing record.
contribution to the game was so significant that he was named to the NFL’s All-Time Team as “The Legend.” Thorpe began his pro football career with the Canton Bulldogs five years before the NFL was formed. He was the first big-name athlete to play pro football and essentially put the game on the map.
The Haggar Gold Jacket Report went into a brief hibernation. However, our time away was anything but sleepy!
Actually, we were consumed here in Canton with Gold Jackets! The 2013 Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Weekend took place just a couple of weeks ago and what a glorious celebration it was to kick off another year of football!
Highlighting this year’s festivities was our Golden Anniversary Reunion. A total of 122 of our 162 living Gold Jacket bearing members were in Canton for the weekend. It represented the largest gathering ever of Hall of Famers from one sport in one place at one time!
On three separate occasions this record group of legends was paraded out for the thousands of fans and hundreds of media to enjoy. On Friday, 100 of the group were able to make it for the annual group photo prior to the private Ray Nitschke Luncheon. This year, the public was invited for the photo op that took place on our front steps.
Later that night a crowd of 4,000 guests filled the Canton Memorial Civic Center for the Enshrinees’ Gold Jacket Dinner. The newest group of enshrinees walked through a gauntlet of Gold Jackets to make it to center stage where they received their official Hall of Fame Gold Jacket. The scene brought chills to everyone present inside the arena. It was an incredible who’s who of football legends. A stirring applause wrapped up the procession when the NFL’s all-time winningest coach Don Shula was assisted by three aides to take his bow in the spotlight. A thunderous ovation followed for Hall of Fame running back Jim Brown, who is obviously legendary in statue especially in northeast Ohio.
And on Saturday, it was on to the main event. These great men flooded the enshrinement stage inside Fawcett Stadium. The ceremony’s emcee Chris Berman rattled off introduction after introduction of the star-studded lineup before the seven newest enshrinees arrived through a red carpet walk through the center of the crowd that night.
It was without a doubt a weekend to remember for football fans everywhere.