|Tom Mack (left) poses with Paul Warfield
Two members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Tom Mack and Paul Warfield, were the first of eight honored guests to participate in the 2003 edition of the Hall's annual Best of Yesterday and Today autograph sessions on Saturday (May 3). Sponsored by Riddell, Inc., the official helmet of the National Football League, hundreds of people took the opportunity to meet and obtain signatures from the Hall of Famers.
In a break from the customary Best of Yesterday and Today format, which paired a Hall of Fame player with a contemporary NFL star, the 2003 edition of BOY&T is themed to coincide with the Hall's ongoing Ohio Bicentennial celebration. This year Hall of Fame members with ties to Ohio will be featured in each of the four sessions.
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Best of Yesterday and Today
Mack was born in Cleveland, Ohio and attended Cleveland Heights High School. Warfield was born in Warren, Ohio, attended Warren G. Harding High School and Ohio State University, and played wide receiver for eight seasons with the Cleveland Browns (1964-1969, 1976-1977).
Both have a great amount of respect for Ohio's historical roots to football and gave their theories as to why the game of football is so deeply embedded in the state's culture.
"Everybody played football as kids," said Mack. "It was just something that we all wanted to do and we did it."
Warfield added to that point, "The tradition of football is certainly here, and it begins with scholastic football. I'm a product of that, and enjoyed more than anything else my experiences of playing high school football on Friday nights."
Asked what their feelings are about returning to Canton and the football greats seem humbled.
"I don't go up to see my bust as much as you would think," said Mack. " But driving down from the airport today is a very comfortable feeling. You feel like you're home."
"The Hall of Fame was a concept that was beyond our realization." Warfield reflected. "That was for the Sammy Baughs, it was beyond our imagination."
The Best of Yesterday and Today Celebration resumes on May 10 with Hall of Famers Dante Lavelli and Bobby Mitchell.
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