One Year Later, Grown Men Still Cry

One Year Later, Grown Men Still Cry

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By George Veras
Chief Operating Officer & Executive Producer, Pro Football Hall of Fame

Since 2016, David Baker has been delivering a “Knock on the Door” of each new Pro Football Hall of Fame class member, although not live, but taped and sent first on social media to millions of viewers.

Seeing the Hall of Famers, their families and their friends explode with pent-up anticipation when they hear the knock, followed by the friendly giant who is David Baker welcoming the newest member to the Hall – “It is with my great pleasure to inform you that you are coming to Canton as a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, where we will preserve and honor your legacy for you, your families, and forever as one of the great men of character and greats of the game” – resonates with Americans.

This is the new and better “National Clearinghouse Sweepstakes” moment that Ed McMahon made famous because everyone in America already knows well that the recipient is one of their football heroes. Still, now, that man will be a Hall of Famer forever.

One year ago – on Saturday, Jan. 11 and Sunday, Jan. 12, 2020 – the man who has been knocking on the doors stunned Bill Cowher and Jimmy Johnson, live on national television, to let them know they would be members of the historic Centennial Class of 2020. (Full coverage here.)

Normally, Baker, the Hall’s president and CEO, knocks on the doors of Finalists sequestered in a hotel, but the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity – because the voting for the Centennial class took place not on Super Bowl Saturday but in early January – opened the door to work with FOX Sports, NFL Network and CBS Sports.


The result: a scene CBS Sports President Sean McManus called “the greatest moment in CBS Sports television history.”

The “Knock on the Door” concept is owned and trademarked by the Pro Football Hall of Fame to as it fulfills its Mission to “Honor the Heroes of the Game, Preserve its History, Promote its Values and Celebrate Excellence EVERYWHERE.” It also has been used the past three years to honor NFL fans for their passion and commitment to the game with an exhibit at the Hall and Baker knocking on the door of fans as part of the Ford Hall of Fans program.

This year, it also has expanded to the Ford Hall of Heroes, which recognizes those supporting all first responders, like Gold Star families and Rescue Dog 22.

That brings us to the Class of 2021 and what will happen at the Super Bowl. Right now, the plans are for the Super Bowl to happen and the new class to be honored at the game. But because of the ambiguity of COVID-19, the final vote for the Class of 2021 has moved to Jan. 19, as President Baker told “Good Morning Football” last week.

So the where and when of “the knocks” is to be determined, which of course, will build the anticipation and guessing of the where and when. But no matter how, as Coach Jimmy Johnson said last week on the NFL Network’s “Gold Jacket Contenders Class 2021 Finalist” show, there will be a good cry had by all.

To see a grown man cry, just watch David Baker tell him: “You are going to Canton!”

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