Larry Csonka shares some memories


Guests touring the Hall of Fame on Thursday may have noticed a familiar face in our Hall of Fame Gallery. That's because Larry Csonka, Class of 1987, stopped by the museum. The former Miami Dolphins fullback was in Canton to take part in an interview with USA Today. It was the first time that Csonka has visited the Hall of Fame since 2003 when he was here was for an autograph session that also included his famous coach, Don Shula.

Before going upstairs for his interview he sat around our front office and chatted with some of the staff. One of the stories he fondly recounted was his presence at the original groundbreaking ceremony for the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Aug. 11, 1962. He and a friend actually hitchhiked from nearby Stow, Ohio and snuck under a fence to view the festivities. He stood in awe as he watched NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle turn over the first spade of dirt. Besides Rozelle other dignitaries present that day who now have bronze busts here were Chicago Bears Coach and Owner George Halas and Pittsburgh Steelers owner Art Rooney.

Csonka then reminisced about a time in 1968 that he met both Red Grange and Bronko Nagurski. During the meeting, Csonka, who had yet to begin playing with the Dolphins, was struck by two things. He was surprised that both the Bears Pro Football Hall of Fame members knew who he was from his play at Syracuse. Second, he was shocked after shaking Nagurski's hand. Csonka described just how big Nagurski hands were and said that they enveloped his as if the legendary fullback from the '30s and '40s was wearing a catcher's mitt. This seemed all the more impressive when you consider the size of Csonka at the time, 6-2 and a hulking 226 pounds. Visitors to the Hall of Fame can actually view Nagurski's size 19½ Pro Football Hall of Fame ring on display in the museum.

Csonka resides in Alaska every summer and spends much of his time hunting and fishing. The distance to Ohio makes it difficult for him to come back for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony. As he walked through the building he mentioned that it must have been 50 years since he was first here for that groundbreaking. When informed that that the Pro Football Hall of Fame's 50th anniversary is approaching in 2013 he quickly stated, "That's one enshrinement I'm going to have to come back for."

One thing is for sure, he won't have to sneak under a fence when he does!

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