The National Football League will crown the champion of its 96th season on Sunday in Super Bowl 50. The Pro Football Hall of Fame will be on hand that day as the newly elected Class of 2016 will be introduced to the Levi’s® Stadium crowd.
Last Sunday, another celebration of a championship was celebrated at the Pro Football Hall of Fame when the Hall paid tribute to the recent NCAA Division III national football championship won by the University of Mount Union. An audience that included the players, parents, and others from the Purple Raiders football community jammed into the Hall’s Event Center for a special tribute labeled “Celebrate Excellence EVERYWHERE.” The theme is a key part of the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Mission Statement.
The program featured a roundtable discussion with a spectacular panel of Gold Jacket , former NFL linebacker and current ESPN/ABC analyst Chris Spielman, Mount Union athletic director and former football coach Larry Kehres and current Mount Union head football coach Vince Kehres. Hall of Fame President David Baker moderated the “chalk talk” that focused on how to sustain excellence by emphasizing the values of the game.
"Our mission statement includes promoting the values of the game and celebrating excellence and Mount Union has done that with a record 12 NCAA championships since 1993," Baker shared.
Little, who was enshrined into the Hall of Fame in 2010 after a spectacular career as a running back with the Denver Broncos from 1967 to 1975, provided this advice to the audience. "I carried the ball over 1,500 times and scored 55 touchdowns which means I was knocked down 1,455 times,” Little said. “It was how I got up doubly determined to fight for more, which got me into the Hall of Fame."
Spielman who grew up in neighboring Massillon, Ohio was a star linebacker at Ohio State before embarking on a great career in the NFL most notably with the Detroit Lions. He talked about the game on many levels and also shared how it helped him face losing his first wife Stefanie to breast cancer in 2009. Since then, he has led the charge and helped raise, to date, $17 million for the Stefanie Spielman Fund for Breast Cancer Research.
"I had defined my life as a football player, but it is only when I used the lessons of the game which taught me that the more adversity I overcame the stronger I became which helped me overcome life challenges," he explained.
The event is the first of what may be a tradition of celebrating football excellence on all levels. Plans are underway to invite each of this past season’s champions to Canton.
"This is a tradition that we want to continue and we will be extending invitations to Alabama, North Dakota State and Northwest Missouri State to celebrate their excellence at the Hall,” Pro Football Hall of Fame Executive Vice President George Veras stated.
At the conclusion of the event, the Mount Union football team broke into groups by position and received guided tours of the Hall of Fame by museum docents.
"It was a day we will never forget and it has inspired us. It was incredible to hear from Floyd and Chris and to have the Hall honor us," Vince Kehres stated.
More about the Celebrating Excellence EVERYWHERE event
"I learned to listen. People don't care how smart you are, it is how much you care for them, then they'll listen." -
"We teach our players these values from the beginning: Work. Commitment. Hope. Loyalty. It is what is placed above their lockers.” - Larry Kehres
"It was a day we will never forget and it has inspired us. It was incredible to hear from Floyd and Chris and to have the Hall honor us." - Vince Kehres
“It was really cool. It was really valuable to me that they (the Hall of Fame) brought in some Hall of Famers to talk to us. It’s truly an honor to be here with some of these guys.” - Mount Union offensive lineman Mitch Doraty
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