One of the highlights of my five week adventure from Iowa to and throughout New England in early fall of 2005 was stopping at Canton, Ohio to visit the Pro Football Hall of Fame. This was one of the best stops of a once in a lifetime road trip (well for most people - I seem to keep on going with one "once in a life time trips" every few years). We might not have been able to make Cooperstown, but me and two of my buddies certainly made Canton and are optimistic this is only the beginning of many to come.
The football Hall of Fame was a great visit, and those five hours to close flew by so quickly we could hardly believe we had been there taht long. All of us were major NFL fans, and this stop was on only the second day of that five week adventure of a road trip. All of us being football fans (Joe's a Viking's fan, but that's okay, nobody's perfect), this was a stop we had to make, especially since it was right on the way.
To put it shortly, it was an amazing trip. I couldn't believe how large the Hall of Fame was, and how many various rooms and displays there were. The older the display, the more interesting it was. I'm going to update this lens periodically to show more specific sections, but here's the basic jist:
If you're a football fan, even casual, this is a must visit stop. It is so well maintained and interesting. This picture is of my buddy, Joe, in the "bust room." This is a dark room that has a bronze bust of every member of the football hall of fame, every one on a glass shelf with an individual light
underneath. It's a stunning display, one that invokes an almost religious awe, and even if the rest of the Hall of Fame is loud and noisy with tourists (although on our day it was relatively empty), you can actually watch a hushed silence descend on that room as visitors move from other exhibits to that room. It's really nearly impossible to describe, but the type of rare experience you don't easily forget. The whole Hall of Fame was great, but that room serves extremely well as the center of this popular musuem.
Just to rub it in to my Vikings fan friend, when it comes to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton Ohio, the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers feel at home. The two teams with the oldest rivalry in the NFL are also the two teams with the most NFL championships. It probably shouldn't be any surprise, then, that these two teams also have the most members in the hall of fame.
The Chicago Bears have more players in the hall of fame than any other team, with the Green Bay Packers a good half dozen behind. These two teams leave virtually everyone else in the dust, though both Dallas and San Francisco have respectable showings. It makes sense that two of the oldest franchises would have the most members, but if you are not a fan of these teams, don't despair: there is plenty for everyone to see. Even the relatively new expansion teams have sections celebrating their best players and moments.
The Only Down Side
There was one downside, at least as of 2005. The only down side about our trip to the Pro Football Hall of Fame was that the "media show" that ran for about an hour in the theatre, couresy of NFL
films, was about three years out of date. If this seems finicky, it is, but it was a little annoying to be in such an amazing place, and to see an outdated media show.
The room with the bronze busts was amazing, and I loved seeing all the odds and ends: the football from Favre's record breaking career starts, the cleats from kicker Chris Boinols's NFL record 7 FGs in one game, a program from two pro teams I never even heard of. If there is another little possible red flag that should be thrown, the hours were only 8-9 hours of open time a day when we visited - so get there early. That's the number one piece of advice any of the three of us would give to anyone passing through the Canton, Ohio anytime soon: get there very early. You could spend all day looking at all the amazing stuff.
Teams with the most players enshrined in Canton
For the list, I'm counting players who spent a large chunk, if not the majority, of their careers with the team, not guys who played one year at the end. This list could be slightly outdated, especially over time, and once again players who played for multiple teams get counted with their "main" team.
For example, Reggie White counts for the Packers, but not Carolina.
1. Chicago Bears--26 Players
2. Green Bay Packers--21 Players
3. New York Giants--18 Players
4. Pittsburgh Steelers--17 Players
5. Washington Redskins--15 Players
Why Canton, Ohio?
Well their Pro Team used to be champions! The Hall of Fame itself has a lot more information on this situation, but Canton, Ohio, once had a professional football team that was a powerhouse around the time of the NFL's founding. They were undefeated in consecutive seasons and were one of the best teams in the country. However, as the NFL was formed in an attempt to make one "professional" league, most of the small city teams fell to the wayside or were moved to larger cities, with the Green Bay Packers standing out as the one major exception that survived the test of time.
Canton therefore has a history of its own, and is home to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, which has great information on the pro and semi-pro teams in the earliest parts of the 20th century. This gives homage to pro football's roots and is perfect for any sports HOF.