NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell visits Canton

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell visits Canton

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“Where else would you rather be than right here, right now?”

One of Hall of Famer Marv Levy’s more famous quotes as coach of the Buffalo Bills came to life Thursday in Canton with a special visit from a special guest on a very special day.

Roger Goodell, Commissioner of the National Football League, visited the birthplace of pro football on the 100th birthday of the league he has led since 2006, saying there was nowhere else but Northeast Ohio for him to commemorate the day.

“I really wanted to be here,” Goodell told the staff of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, which had assembled on the concourse between the Hall and Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium. “I wanted to be part of the (Centennial) game (later in Cleveland.) I wanted to put my hand on Jim Thorpe’s head” in the Hall of Fame Gallery, which he did, noting that three of the League’s first five commissioners — Thorpe, Joe Carr and Bert Bell —all were part of the Hall’s inaugural 1963 class.

“It meant a great deal for me to be here in Canton today,” Goodell said.

The Commissioner talked about the bold men who launched the League in an automobile showroom 100 years earlier.


“It’s incredible how they came together,” he said. It was not for money. Not for fame. It was pure passion for the Game.”

He said he hoped the founders were “up there, looking down and saying, ‘Wow. Look what we created. Look what we became.’”

Goodell said he is proud of what those associated with the League have accomplished over the past 100 years — the entertainment provided to fans and the many lives that have been changed in positive ways.

In addition to visiting the Hall, which included cutting a birthday cake, the commissioner made stops at downtown’s Centennial Plaza to view the 11 Player Pylons formally unveiled at halftime of Thursday night’s game and near the Cultural Center to see one of the two new pieces in “The ELEVEN” downtown art project series, “The Ice Bowl,” which formally will be unveiled to the public Friday afternoon. He also addressed the McKinley football team, which took an unexpected timeout from practice and huddled near the north stands of Benson Stadium to hear him.

Goodell emphasized “teamwork” in his impromptu message, using the word several times to stress its importance in success, not only on the field but in facing any adversity.


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