Honor the Heroes of the Game, Preserve Its History, Promote its Values & Celebrate Excellence Everywhere
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David Baker, President
Dave has great respect for today’s game as well as the NFL’s rich tradition and heritage. However, he is most passionate about how the traits and characteristics needed to excel in football are the same qualities that make all individuals, communities, and America strong.
He’ll never have a bronze bust, a Gold Jacket or a Hall of Fame ring, but Steve Perry has led an uncommon life of achievement and integrity.
Steve’s father had no money and did not speak English but he dreamed of a better life and immigrated to Canton, Ohio from Cape Verde, a poor island in the Atlantic, 350 miles off the West African coast. Steve’s mother and father worked long and hard; his father in a factory and his mother cleaning homes. Their eleven kids helped take care of each other and Steve’s family was and is, today, his Team!
It was a humble beginning offering an abundance of life lessons that propelled Steve to places that his parents could only dream of. He graduated from the University of Akron, got his Masters from Stanford University, worked his way up from the stationery stockroom to become the Senior Vice President of the Timken Company, ran the administration for the Governor of Ohio and the General Services Administration for the President of the United States.
For nearly eight years, Steve has served with honor as President/Executive Director of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He has presided over the enshrinement of 51 Hall of Famers, overseen more than $40 million of renovations and expansions to the Hall of Fame campus as well as the Hall’s 50th Anniversary celebration. He has done it with polish, integrity and grace that would make Walter Payton smile, Deion Sanders blush, John Madden gush and Jim Thorpe, a onetime Canton resident himself, grin with pride for one of Canton’s own.
On Saturday night, the community of Canton and the Trustees and Staff of the Hall of Fame honored Steve Perry at his retirement dinner.
When Thomas Jefferson was named our country’s Ambassador to France, the King asked if he was the man who was “replacing” the famous Benjamin Franklin. The wise Jefferson responded that he was the man who “succeeds” Mr. Franklin because “no man could replace him.”
Just like Jefferson, I “succeed” Steve Perry because no man could ever “replace” him.
Personally, I think Steve’s just warming up, but to me, he’ll always be Canton’s own Hall of Famer.