Return of the Mack
The Pro Football Hall of Fame is constantly adding mementos to its collection of football artifacts. Each year, the Hall of Fame obtains items of historic nature in order to chronicle the storied history of the National Football League.
Typically this time of year, the items obtained by our curatorial staff are from history-making moments that occur from each weekend around the NFL such as Peyton Manning’s jersey and football from his seven-touchdown performance on Kickoff Thursday. But, we also occasionally get “gems” from the past.
Such was the case a couple of weeks ago. Hall of Fame guard Tom Mack came back to Canton to participate in our annual Golf Classic fundraising tournament. He not only arrived in town with his golf clubs but also brought five game-used objects from his great career with the Los Angeles Rams from 1966 to 1978.
Our staff is always asking, and reminding, Hall of Famers that they ought to help the Hall of Fame with its mission of preserving the game by donating significant artifacts from their career. For a couple of years Hall of Fame Vice President Joe Horrigan has given Mack a few such friendly reminders.
“I had to get him off my back,” Mack joked about finally handing over three jerseys, a pair shoes, and his helmet.
The Class of 1999 enshrinee is actually honored and excited to know that these pieces of history will be properly preserved and cared for by the museum professionals in Canton and most likely find their way on exhibit.
“That part was kind of neat because I grew up in Ohio,” reflected Mack who was born and raised in nearby Cleveland.
During a telephone conversation yesterday, Mack shared that he doesn’t have many more items from his stellar career as one of the game’s finest offensive lineman. One of his Pro Bowl jerseys hangs in a bar in New Orleans. Two of his game worn Rams jerseys are in the bedrooms of his grandsons.
“They probably don’t have a clue,” he remarked about whether or not they know much about what their grandpa did on the football field.
Well, to set the record straight, Tom Mack was drafted out of the University of Michigan by the Rams as the second player selected overall in the 1966 NFL Draft. He promptly won a starting role on a veteran laden team. For 13 seasons as the team’s left guard, he never missed a game while he helped the Rams to winning seasons in all but one year he played. The team claimed eight division titles while Mack was named to the Pro Bowl eleven times and voted first-team All-NFL five times.
Now, thanks to Tom’s donation, the Hall of Fame can better tell his story with the use of authentic artifacts from a Hall of Fame career. Among the items he gave to the Hall are three jerseys (one from the 1969 season, one from the early 1970s, and one presumably from the 1978 Pro Bowl).
He wore the shoes in the early ‘70s. This particular pair was made with hardened rubber so the shoes wouldn’t bend and therefore help protect his bothersome foot. The helmet is one he wore pre-1973 before the Rams changed from blue and white to yellow and blue. This helmet was painted for one of his numerous Pro Bowl appearances.
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