A weekend to remember


4:05 p.m. ET

The Hall of Famers started showing up on Thursday (8/6) morning. Joe DeLamielleure was the first one I saw in the store. Joe was here helping represent a new company named Yesteryear Fantasy Sports. Yesteryear is launching a new fantasy football game featuring retired Hall of Famers and other NFL players which sounds very promising. Joe is a true entrepreneur and always has something, but this one seems really good. Next in was new Enshrinee and just a fantastic guy, Randall McDaniel. Randall stopped by to see everything first hand and try to relax a bit before the crazy weekend. Randall had a bunch of family members in also, and it was easy to tell why Randall was such a great guy from how nice the rest of his family was.

After putting the finishing touches on everything here at the Hall, I picked up my wife and headed over to the McKinley Grand Hotel for the Board of Trustees Hall of Famer Reception & Dinner. This was a fun event that was pretty casual and relaxed. About 80% of the Hall of Famers are in by the time of the dinner and everyone sits around the large dining room getting reacquainted with each other and telling stories. My wife and I left around 11:00 to get some rest before the long weekend.

Friday (8/7) morning I was at the hotel at 7:00 a.m. getting ready for our annual meeting with the Hall of Famers and select NFL officials including Commissioner Roger Goodell. The meeting started at 8:00 and went until 9:30. It was a good meeting. The information shared is very private and everyone speaks freely from the Hall of Famers to the Commissioner to the officers. We discussed a number of different things regarding the Hall of Fame, NFL and other things. The meeting was very productive and interesting.

After the meeting I met my wife and two ladies who work for me to help them with the internal autograph session for the Class of 2009. Randall McDaniel, Bruce Smith, Rod Woodson and Ralph Wilson Jr. each signed about 125 footballs which immediately went on sale for the public and are available online right now.

Following the autograph signing I headed over to the Ray Nitschke Memorial Luncheon. This event started with a brief reception followed by a group photograph of all the Hall of Famers in attendance for Hall of Fame weekend. We then had the luncheon where Hall of Famers ate alone and broke in the new class while the board and the officers had lunch in a room next door. After the luncheon we had our national board meeting. We had a number of NFL owners who sit on our board attend the meeting including Pat Bowlen, Denise DeBartolo York and Bud Adams. After the meeting, Bud told a wonderful story on how he started the AFL with Lamar Hunt. Hearing this story directly from him was a very special thing.

After the Board meeting I stopped by the Hall quickly to see how things were going and then headed out the Enshrinees dinner with my wife at the Civic Center in Canton. This was an amazing dinner and production. I sat with George Blanda and his wife which was a true honor. It is hard to believe that George played for 26 years and played until he was 48! What an amazing career he had.

So after we ate dinner each member of the Class of 2009 is announced and brought up to the stage (Bob Hayes Jr. and Derrion Thomas represented their fathers). Each Hall of Famer is then  introduced to the crowd and walks down a runway-like stage and congratulates each new member. There are a few awards given out for various accomplishments leading up to the highlight of the night. One by one each new Enshrinee is brought up to the stage and presented his gold jacket by his presenter for the weekend. This is very exciting and it is said that this is the first time it really hits the new Enshrinees that they are actually in the Hall of Fame.

Part 2 will start with Saturday (8/8) in a couple days…..

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