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Pete Fierle, Manager - Digital Media/Communications
Pete's familiarity with the game's history is a result of spending two decades surrounded by the world's largest collection of pro football information. His many duties include overseeing the Hall's website as well as the day-to-day operation of the Ralph Wilson, Jr. Pro Football Research and Preservation Center.
A new "For Pete's Sake" blog appears each Thursday.
The National Football League was founded in Canton, Ohio on Sept. 17, 1920. Since that time there have been nearly 22,000 men who've competed in the league. My guess is minimally ten times that number have tried to make it to the NFL and who knows how many young boys have dreamed of making it to the NFL. Add to that figure of the league's alumni the countless number of coaches and administrators who've been involved with the game.
The ultimate quest for anyone who has dedicated themselves to this sport is to be enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Perhaps it sounds a bit like a cliché, but the Hall of Fame represents immortality. The contributions of the legends bronzed in Canton are here forever. For some that moment comes sooner than later. For others, it takes years if not decades!
Seven new greats will be added this August with the formal enshrinement of the Class of 2011 – Richard Dent, Marshall Faulk, Chris Hanburger, Les Richter, Ed Sabol, Deion Sanders, and Shannon Sharpe. When Faulk and Sabol step to the podium on the grand stage inside Fawcett Stadium on Saturday, August 6, they will represent opposite ends of the spectrum. Sabol is the oldest individual ever elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame and Faulk will be the 10th youngest person to be enshrined in Canton.
Sabol is just the second nonagenarian (a person in his 90s) to be enshrined. Buffalo Bills founder and owner Ralph Wilson was the first when two years ago at age 90 he was honored. Sabol will be just shy of his 95th birthday at this summer's enshrinement ceremony.
There are two other individuals in addition to Sabol and Wilson who were enshrined in their 80s. They are Wellington Mara in 1997 and Hank Stram in 2003 both of whom were 80.
It's worth giving an "honorable mention" to Morris (Red) Badgro who was 78 years, 8 months old in 1981 when he was enshrined into the Hall of Fame. A star of the 1930s, Badgro held the distinction of scoring the first touchdown in NFL championship game history. He waited 45 years from the time he stepped off the football field for the last time to when he stepped to the podium on the Pro Football Hall of Fame's front steps. At the time, he was the oldest person ever enshrined into the Hall. He remains the oldest former player to be enshrined in the Hall of Fame.
On the flip side, Faulk is one of 19 members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame who will be enshrined before his 40th birthday. To be specific Marshall will be 38 years, 5 months, and 11 days old when he walks to the microphone on August 6.
The youngest person ever enshrined was Gale Sayers who was two months removed from his 34th birthday when he was inducted in the summer of the 1977.