The following statement by the Pro Football Hall of Fame is being provided for informational purposes to clarify the policy regarding Hall of Fame Rings and Gold Jackets.
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“The most prestigious individual honor that can be bestowed on a pro football player, coach or contributor is election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. This ultimate tribute is celebrated annually in Canton, Ohio when a new Class of Enshrinees is formally welcomed into the pro football shrine.
Since first opening its doors in 1963, the Hall of Fame, a 501 (c) (3) non-profit educational institution, has honored each new member with a bronzed portrait bust that is placed in the Hall of Fame Gallery where it will remain in perpetuity.
The bronzed likenesses are often cited as what separates the Pro Football Hall of Fame from other similar institutions of honor. It is pro football’s most revered symbol of individual excellence. And, it is with great pride and a sense of privilege that the Hall of Fame, since 1963, has honored every Hall of Fame Enshrinee in this fashion.
While the portrait bust is created as the principle physical tribute to every Hall of Fame member, the Hall of Fame Board of Trustees also in 1963, began the tradition of presenting Hall of Fame Rings. Nearly three decades later, another tradition began, whereby newly elected enshrinees were presented Hall of Fame Gold Jackets.
While the iconic bronzed busts are created to memorialize every member of the Hall of Fame, the Hall of Fame Ring and Gold Jacket are items presented to living Hall of Fame members to be worn exclusively by them as evidence and pride of their having been elected to sport’s most elite fraternity. At no time in its 53-year history has the Hall of Fame presented either of these personal adornments posthumously or retroactively to a family member of a deceased Hall of Famer. The Hall of Fame believes, to the greatest extent possible, it should avoid creating or contributing to family disputes relative to ownership as well as the potential public sale or distribution of items intended for the exclusive use by a Hall of Famer.
The Hall of Fame Board of Trustees, at the request of the Stabler Family, reviewed this policy at its June 2016 meeting and determined that a change to the long-standing policy was not warranted.
The Hall of Fame has always recognized the important role a family plays in the career of a Hall of Famer and presents to the families of posthumously enshrined members a Gold Hall of Fame Crest identical to what is otherwise featured only on the Hall of Fame Gold Jacket.
The Crest is framed along with a special memorial Medallion commemorating their family member’s Hall of Fame Enshrinement. Additionally, each Hall of Famer’s wife is presented with a gold Hall of Fame necklace and pendant. Widows of Hall of Fame members are also now eligible for financial assistance through the Hall of Fame Enshrinees Assistance Fund established in 2001 by the Hall of Fame Board of Trustees. And importantly, the Hall of Fame also extends a special invitation to the widows of Hall of Famers to return to Canton as our guests to reunite with her ‘Hall of Fame Family’ during the Annual Hall of Fame Enshrinement Celebration. In addition, with the completion of Hall of Fame Village over the next few years, the Hall will be able to offer assisted and independent care along with other important services.”