Football and America: An Exhibit by the NFL and the Hall of Fame

01/01/2005
 


"From Aristotle's time on down we have been told, and it has been demonstrated, that sports is necessary for the relaxation of the people in times of stress and worry. The National League will strive to help meet this need with the men the government has not yet called for military service, either because of dependants, disabilities, or the luck of the draw in the Army draft." - Former NFL Commissioner Elmer Layden, March 24, 1942.

Eddie LeBaron
NFL quarterback Eddie LeBaron was a decorated solider in the Korean War.
CANTON, OH - The Pro Football Hall of Fame and the National Football League have joined forces to produce a unique museum exhibit titled Football and America.

Football and America, which debuted on January 29 at the NFL Experience in New Orleans, Louisiana as a part of the Super Bowl XXXVI celebration, explores the many ways in which the NFL and its players have responded to America's call during times of national crises and military conflicts.

Following a three-day stay at the NFL Experience, the Football and America exhibit will move to New Orleans' D-Day Museum for two-weeks (February 2 through February 14), before reopening in late February at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.

Prepared by the Hall of Fame, Football and America chronicles the contributions and sacrifices made by the NFL and its players during national emergencies. It recalls stories like how the NFL, while struggling for its own survival during World War II, generated millions of dollars in War Bond sales, and donated the revenues from 15 exhibition games to service charities. It recounts how, in 1966, the NFL became the first sports organization to send groups of players to Vietnam as a part of the NFL/USO "goodwill tours."

Leemans' Day program
This is the program from Tuffy Leemans Day on Dec. 7, 1941. Giants fans were honoring the future Hall of Famer when the P.A. announcer told all servicemen to report to their units.

Also documented are stories of personal sacrifice made by players who interrupted or delayed their pro football careers to first serve their country as members of the military. Acts of heroism, like that of pro football's three Congressional Medal of Honor winners Maurice Britt, Joe Foss, and Jack Lummus are recognized, as well as inspirational stories like that of Chicago Cardinals fullback Mario "Motts" Tonelli, who survived three and a half years as a World War II prisoner of war.

Football and America also chronicles how the NFL has used its game and resources to raise America's collective level of patriotism during and after such national crisis as the Iranian hostage situation, the Gulf War, and most recently following the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Brought to life through the use of film, artifacts, and photos from the Hall of Fame's collections Football and America features as its centerpiece an honor roll that lists the more than 1,200 known NFL personnel who were members of the armed forces during World War II, the Korean War, and Vietnam War.

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