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Saleem Choudhry - Researcher
Saleem spends his days gathering, interpreting, and disseminating information about the game of pro football. He now shares in his blog some of the more unique stories and facts that he has uncovered while working with the Hall’s vast collection of more than 18 million pages of documents.
We successfully completed this year’s Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Festival and a good time was had by all, especially the Class of 2011. Congratulations again to Richard Dent, Marshall Faulk, Chris Hanburger, Les Richter, Ed Sabol, Deion Sanders, and Shannon Sharpe.
This was my 21st Enshrinement while working at the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Every year there seems to be something new and exciting that happens. Here are a few interesting notes from this past weekend.
The general fan may not have realized this, but many of us on the Pro Football Hall of Fame staff were seriously sweating the weather in the days and the hours leading up to the Enshrinement Ceremony. Going into the week the forecast called for showers and thunderstorms and that outlook seemed to grow ever more likely as the big day grew nearer. For those of you that don’t know, the Pro Football Hall of Fame has a very detailed plan in the event of severe weather. Luckily, we were prepared but didn’t have to implement alternate plans for the Enshrinement as the storm fronts missed us. Thanks to many for helping us including meteorologist Mark Johnson from local ABC affiliate WEWS in Cleveland who was texting us updates every half hour.
We all know that that the game was canceled this year. Personally, that meant my normal chaotic day of preparing for the game was not to be. So, for the first time I was able to attend the GameDay Roundtable on Sunday. It was a great event. If you have a chance to attend this event in future I highly recommend it. It really is the only chance a fan has to observe the incoming class having a candid, unscripted conversation about their careers, lives and the Enshrinement Weekend. In my opinion Chris Hanburger stole this year’s show. He is a very funny man and has a unique, straight forward way of looking at the world and professional football. He is built out of the “old school” and his interaction with guys like Deion Sanders and Marshall Faulk were, I found, fascinating.
I think that Sanders really took a liking to Hanburger and made mention during the show of how he wanted to keep in touch with him after the weekend was over. Sanders told a story of how he asked the Redskins linebacker for his cell number. After Hanburger graciously gave it to him, a satisfied Sanders entered the number into his phone. The zinger came when Hanburger informed Deion that he only turns the phone on when he needs to make a call. The crowd at the Luncheon erupted in laughter and Sanders was relegated to pleading with Hanburger’s son and presenter Chris to help with the cause.
The enshrinement brings many “A-list” guests to Canton. As such we do our best to roll out the red carpet for them. Many of these guests were treated with a special VIP tour of the Pro Football Hall of Fame and a behind the scenes look at our archives before the Enshrinement Ceremony. Among the guests getting “back stage access” to the Hall were: Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank, a large contingent from the Chicago Bears’ McCaskey family; NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and his family; Kurt Warner and his son; and rapper/actor Ice Cube and his family. Warner was looking at many of the photos is in the Hall of Fame’s collection when he crossed paths with Ice Cube. Both men seemed really excited about the opportunity to meet one another.
Now it is back to the grindstone. The Class of 2012 Enshrinement Ceremony may be a year away but there is already work to be done in preparation for that. The Seniors Committee meets in just a few weeks to nominate two senior candidates for next year’s class.