Football and America: The NFL Responds During Times of National Crises

General Published on : 6/30/2003

Football and America: The NFL Responds During Times of National Crises
Exhibit to Open at the Hall of Fame

Mar. 21, 2002

CANTON, OH -- The Pro Football Hall of Fame and the National Football League recently joined forces to produce a unique museum exhibit titled Football and America: The NFL Responds During Times of National Crises. A ribbon cutting-ceremony will be held at the Hall of Fame on Wednesday, March 27, at 1 p.m. to officially open the exhibit, which will remain at the museum through 2002. Rocky Bleier, former Pittsburgh Steelers running back and decorated Vietnam veteran will preside over the ceremony.

Prepared by the Hall of Fame, Football and America chronicles the many ways in which the NFL and its players have responded to America's call during times of national crises and military conflicts from World War II through the recent terrorists attack on the United States.

Brought to life through the use of film, football and military artifacts, and photos from the Hall of Fame's collections, Football and America features as its centerpiece an honor roll that lists the more than 1,200 known NFL personnel who were members of the armed forces during World War II, the Korean War, and Vietnam War.

Football and America recalls stories of personal sacrifice made by players who interrupted or delayed their pro football careers to first serve their country as members of the armed services. Acts of heroism, like that of pro football's three Congressional Medal of Honor winners - Maurice Britt, Joe Foss, and Jack Lummus - are recognized. Inspirational stories like that of Chicago Cardinals fullback Mario "Motts" Tonelli, who survived three-and-one-half years as a World War II prisoner of war, are also related.

Also told are stories of how the NFL, while struggling for its own survival during World War II, generated millions of dollars in War Bond sales, and donated the revenues from 15 exhibition games to service charities. It relates how in 1966, the NFL became the first sports organization to send groups of players to Vietnam as part of the NFL/USO "goodwill tours." Also remembered is how the NFL has used its game and resources to raise America's collective level of patriotism during and after such national crises as the Iranian hostage situation, the Gulf War, and most recently following the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Football and America first opened at the NFL Experience in New Orleans, Louisiana as a part of the Super Bowl XXXVI celebration. Following a three-day stay at the NFL Experience, the exhibit moved to the D-Day Museum for a two-week stay. Football and America is scheduled to remain at the Pro Football Hall of Fame through 2002.