Pro Football Hall of Fame

Last updated
Pro Football Hall of Fame
Pro Football Hall of Fame logo.svg
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Location of Pro Football Hall of Fame
Established1963
Location2121 George Halas Dr NW, Canton, Ohio
Coordinates 40°49′16″N81°23′52″W / 40.82111°N 81.39778°W / 40.82111; -81.39778 Coordinates: 40°49′16″N81°23′52″W / 40.82111°N 81.39778°W / 40.82111; -81.39778
Type Professional sports hall of fame
Visitors191,943 (2010) [1]
President C. David Baker
Website profootballhof.com

The Pro Football Hall of Fame is the hall of fame for professional American football, located in Canton, Ohio. Opened in 1963, the Hall of Fame enshrines exceptional figures in the sport of professional football, including players, coaches, franchise owners, and front-office personnel, almost all of whom made their primary contributions to the game in the National Football League (NFL); the Hall inducts between four and eight new enshrinees each year. The Hall of Fame's Mission is to "Honor the Heroes of the Game, Preserve its History, Promote its Values & Celebrate Excellence EVERYWHERE."

In the United States and Canada, the term professional football includes the professional forms of American and Canadian gridiron football. In common usage, it refers to former and existing major football leagues in either country. Currently, there are multiple professional football leagues in North America: the three best known are the National Football League (NFL) and the Arena Football League (AFL) in the U.S. and the Canadian Football League (CFL) in Canada. The NFL has existed continuously since being so named in 1922.

American football Team field sport

American football, referred to as football in the United States and Canada and also known as gridiron, is a team sport played by two teams of eleven players on a rectangular field with goalposts at each end. The offense, which is the team with possession of the oval-shaped football, attempts to advance down the field by running with or passing the ball, while the defense, which is the team without possession of the ball, aims to stop the offense's advance and to take control of the ball for themselves. The offense must advance at least ten yards in four downs, or plays; if they fail, they turn over the football to the defense, but if they succeed, they are given a new set of four downs to continue the drive. Points are primarily scored by advancing the ball into the opposing team's end zone for a touchdown or kicking the ball through the opponent's goalposts for a field goal. The team with the most points at the end of a game wins.

Canton, Ohio City in Ohio, United States

Canton is a city in and the county seat of Stark County, Ohio, United States. It is located approximately 60 miles (97 km) south of Cleveland and 20 miles (32 km) south of Akron in Northeast Ohio. The city lies on the edge of Ohio's extensive Amish country, particularly in Holmes and Wayne counties to the city's west and southwest. Canton is the largest municipality in the Canton-Massillon, OH Metropolitan Statistical Area, which includes all of Stark and Carroll counties. As of the 2010 Census, the population was 73,007, making Canton eighth among Ohio cities in population.

Contents

The Hall of Fame class of 2019 (Tony Gonzalez, Ed Reed, Champ Bailey, Ty Law, Kevin Mawae, Pat Bowlen, Gil Brandt, and Johnny Robinson) were selected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame by a 48-member selection committee and announced on February 2, 2019. [2] Including the 2019 class, there are now a total of 326 members of the Hall of Fame.

Tony Gonzalez American football tight end

Anthony David Gonzalez is a former American football tight end. He played college football and college basketball at University of California, Berkeley, and was recognized as a consensus All-American in football. He was drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs in the first round of the 1997 NFL Draft, where he played for 12 seasons, until being traded to the Atlanta Falcons, where he played for 5 seasons. Gonzalez, a 14-time Pro Bowl selection, holds the NFL record for total receiving yards (15,127) by a tight end. He also is second all-time in receptions with 1,325, trailing only wide receiver Jerry Rice. Gonzalez was known for his durability and rarely fumbling. During his career, he only missed two games and lost only two fumbles on 1,327 touches. He is currently an analyst on Fox NFL's pregame show. Gonzalez was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in August 2019, his first year of eligibility.

Ed Reed American football player

Edward Earl Reed Jr. is a former American football safety who spent the majority of his career with the Baltimore Ravens of the National Football League (NFL). He played college football for the University of Miami, where he was a two-time consensus All-American. He was drafted by the Ravens in the first round of the 2002 NFL Draft and played eleven seasons for Baltimore before playing with the Houston Texans and New York Jets in 2013.

Champ Bailey American football player, defensive back, cornerback

Roland "Champ" Bailey Jr. is a former American football cornerback in the National Football League (NFL). He played college football for Georgia, where he earned consensus All-American honors, and was drafted by the Washington Redskins in the first round of the 1999 NFL Draft. He is the brother of former NFL linebacker Boss Bailey.

History

Old entrance to The Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio Football Hall of Fame.JPG
Old entrance to The Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio

The community of Canton, Ohio successfully lobbied the NFL to have the Hall of Fame built in their city for two reasons: first, the NFL was founded in Canton in 1920 [3] (at that time it was known as the American Professional Football Association); second, the now-defunct Canton Bulldogs were a successful NFL team based in Canton during the first few years of the league. Groundbreaking for the building was held on August 11, 1962. The original building contained just two rooms, and 19,000 square feet (1,800 m2) of interior space. [4]

The Canton Bulldogs were a professional American football team, based in Canton, Ohio. They played in the Ohio League from 1903 to 1906 and 1911 to 1919, and the American Professional Football Association, from 1920 to 1923 and again from 1925 to 1926. The Bulldogs would go on to win the 1916, 1917 and 1919 Ohio League championships. They were the NFL champions in 1922 and 1923. In 1921–1923, the Bulldogs played 25 straight games without a defeat, which as of 2018 remains an NFL record. As a result of the Bulldogs' early success along with the league being founded in the city, the Pro Football Hall of Fame is located in Canton. Jim Thorpe, the Olympian and renowned all-around athlete, was Canton's most-recognized player in the pre-NFL era.

In April 1970, ground was broken for the first of many expansions. This first expansion cost $620,000, and was completed in May 1971. The size was increased to 34,000 square feet (3,200 m2) by adding another room. The pro shop opened with this expansion. This was also an important milestone for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, as yearly attendance passed the 200,000 mark for the first time. This was at least in some part due to the increase in popularity of professional football caused by the advent of the American Football League and its success in the final two AFL-NFL World Championship games. [4]

American Football League Professional football league that merged with National Football League in 1970

The American Football League (AFL) was a major professional American football league that operated for ten seasons from 1960 until 1969, when it merged with the older National Football League (NFL), and became the American Football Conference. The upstart AFL operated in direct competition with the more established NFL throughout its existence. It was more successful than earlier rivals to the NFL with the same name, the 1926, 1936 and 1940 leagues, and the later All-America Football Conference.

Below is a list of professional football championship games in the United States, involving:

Inside the original structure in 2008. PFootballHall of fame original dome entrance.jpg
Inside the original structure in 2008.

In November 1977, work began on another expansion project, costing US$1,200,000. It was completed in November 1978, enlarging the gift shop and research library, while doubling the size of the theater. The total size of the hall was now 50,500 square feet (4,690 m2), more than 2.5 times the original size. [4]

The building remained largely unchanged until July 1993. The Hall then announced yet another expansion, costing US$9,200,000, and adding a fifth room. This expansion was completed in October 1995. The building's size was increased to 82,307 square feet (7,647 m2). The most notable addition was the GameDay Stadium, which shows an NFL Films production on a 20-foot (6.1 m) by 42-foot (13 m) Cinemascope screen. [4]

NFL Films Motion picture company owned by the National Football League

NFL Films is a company devoted to producing commercials, television programs, feature films, and documentaries for and about the National Football League (NFL), as well as other unrelated major events and awards shows. Founded as Blair Motion Pictures by Ed Sabol in 1962, and run by his son Steve Sabol until his death, it is currently owned by the NFL and produces most of its filmed and videotaped content except its live game coverage, which is handled separately by the individual networks. NFL Films is based in Mount Laurel, New Jersey.

In 2013, the Hall of Fame completed its largest expansion and renovation to date. Currently, the Hall of Fame consists of 118,000 square feet.

Johnson Controls Hall of Fame Village, an estimated $900 million expansion project adjacent to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, has completed Phase I of construction; preparations for beginning Phase II are currently underway. [5] [6]

Executive Directors/Presidents of Hall of Fame

Inductees

The Hall is made up of several sections, at heart is the display of inductees. Pro Football hall of Fame inductee display.jpg
The Hall is made up of several sections, at heart is the display of inductees.

Through 2018, all players in the hall except one, played some part of their professional career in the NFL (the lone exception is Buffalo Bills guard Billy Shaw, who played his entire career in the American Football League (AFL) prior to the 1970 AFL–NFL merger). Though several Hall of Famers have had AFL, Canadian Football League, World Football League, United States Football League, Arena Football League and/or Indoor Football League experience, and there is a division of the Hall devoted to alternative leagues such as this, to this point no players have made the Hall without having made significant contributions to either the NFL, AFL or All-America Football Conference. For CFL stars, there is a parallel Canadian Football Hall of Fame; only one player (Warren Moon) and one coach (Bud Grant) are in both halls.

The Chicago Bears have the most Hall of Famers among the league's franchises with either 34 or 28 enshrinees depending on whether players that only played a small portion of their careers with the team are counted. [8]

Selection process

Selection Committee

Enshrinees are selected by a 48-person committee, largely made up of media members, officially known as the Selection Committee. [9]

Each city that has a current NFL team sends one representative from the local media to the committee. A city with more than one franchise sends a representative for each franchise.

There are also 15 at-large delegates including one representative from the Pro Football Writers Association. Except for the PFWA representative, who is appointed to a two-year term, all other appointments are open-ended and terminated only by death, incapacitation, retirement, or resignation. [9]

Voting procedure

Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium with the Hall of Fame in lower right Hall Fame Air.JPG
Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium with the Hall of Fame in lower right

To be eligible for the nominating process, a player or coach must have been retired for at least five years. Any other contributor such as a team owner or executive can be voted in at any time. [10]

Fans may nominate any player, coach or contributor by simply writing to the Pro Football Hall of Fame via letter or email. The Selection Committee is then polled three times by mail to eventually narrow the list to 25 semifinalists: once in March, once in September, and once in October. In November, the committee then selects 15 finalists by mail balloting. A Seniors and Contributors Committee, subcommittees of the overall Selection Committee, nominate Seniors (those players who completed their careers more than 25 years ago) and Contributors (individuals who made contributions to the game in areas other than playing or coaching). The Seniors Committee and Contributors Committee add two or one finalist(s) on alternating years which makes a final ballot of 18 finalists under consideration by the full committee each year. [10] Committee members are instructed to only consider a candidate's professional football contributions and to disregard all other factors. [11]

The Selection Committee then meets on "Selection Saturday," the day before each Super Bowl game to elect a new class. To be elected, a finalist must receive at least 80 percent support from the Board, with at least four, but no more than eight, candidates being elected annually.

Enshrinement ceremony

A football signed by the 1974 Pro Football Hall of Fame enshrinement class Hall of Fame Football (1987.572.1).jpg
A football signed by the 1974 Pro Football Hall of Fame enshrinement class

The enshrinement ceremony is usually held during the first full weekend in August. An enshrinement celebration is held throughout the week in Canton surrounding the enshrinement ceremony. [12] All members of the Hall of Fame are invited to attend the annual ceremony. [11]

Enshrinees do not go into the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a member of a certain team. Rather, all of an enshrinee's affiliations are listed equally. [10] While the Baseball Hall of Fame plaques generally depict each of their inductees wearing a particular club's cap (with a few exceptions, such as Catfish Hunter and Greg Maddux), the bust sculptures of each Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee make no reference to any specific team. In addition to the bust that goes on permanent display at the Hall of Fame, inductees receive a distinctive Gold Jacket and previous inductees nearly always wear theirs when participating at new inductee ceremonies.

Previous induction ceremonies were held during the next day (Sunday from 1999–2005, Saturday in 2006), situated on the steps of the Hall of Fame building. Starting in 2002, the ceremony was moved to Fawcett Stadium (now Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium), where it was held from 1963 to 1965. Since 2007, the enshrinement ceremony has been held on the Saturday night, since 2017 two days after the Hall of Fame Game. [13]

Hall of Fame Game

The Hall of Fame Game, the annual NFL preseason opener, is played in Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium at Johnson Controls Hall of Fame Village in Canton, Ohio. In 2017, the Hall of Fame Game was held for the first time on Thursday night. The preseason classic kicks off Enshrinement Week Powered by Johnson Controls and officially kicks off the NFL preseason.

Criticism

The "Other Leagues" display includes the USFL; inductee Jim Kelly's jersey is in the foreground. Profootballhalloffame USFL areas.jpg
The "Other Leagues" display includes the USFL; inductee Jim Kelly's jersey is in the foreground.

The Pro Football Hall of Fame uses only media representatives to select inductees. This, along with its policy of inducting only a maximum of seven players a year (six in certain years past), with a current maximum of two "senior" candidates and five "non-seniors," has been criticized by sports columnists, former players, and football fans. [12] Such critics would like to see solutions such as expanding the number of selectors, rotating panel members on and off the selection committee, and allowing former players to participate in the voting. [14] The small number of candidates elected each year has helped foster what some perceive as an inequality of representation at certain positions or in certain categories of player, with defensive players in general and defensive backs and outside linebackers in particular, special teams players, wide receivers, deserving players who primarily played on bad teams, and those from the "seniors" category, being slighted. This has included a 2009 The New York Times article which criticized the Hall for not including punter Ray Guy on its ballot, also noting that the Hall did not have an inductee at the time representing the position. [14] (At least two inductees, Sammy Baugh and Yale Lary, punted in addition to playing other positions.) Guy was eventually inducted as part of the 2014 class for the Hall of Fame. There has also been criticism that certain players get overlooked because their team underproduced during their careers. [15]

The Pro Football Hall of Fame is unique among North American major league sports halls of fame in that officials have generally been excluded from the Hall. Only one official, 1966 inductee Hugh "Shorty" Ray, has been enshrined. The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and Hockey Hall of Fame have each inducted game officials as members. In part to rectify the lack of officials and other off-field contributors, the Hall of Fame added a “Contributors” committee beginning with the class of 2015, which will nominate officials, general managers, owners and other positions that have historically been overlooked by the committee at large. [16]

Another prominent absence from the Hall is sports-journalist Howard Cosell, who has yet to be awarded the Pete Rozelle Radio-Television Award despite his well-known association with Monday Night Football . An August 2010 Sports Illustrated article hints that Cosell may have even been "blacklisted" by the NFL. [17] [18]

As the late 2010s approached, a number of controversial and polarizing figures began to reach eligibility for the Hall. Terrell Owens's exclusion from the Hall in his first two years of eligibility despite his strong individual statistics was a subject of public debate. [19] Owens was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2018, but refused to attend the enshrinement ceremony. [20]

Pro Football Hall of Fame (old entrance). Pro Football Hall of Fame sign.JPG
Pro Football Hall of Fame (old entrance).

See also

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References

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  2. "Pro Football Hall of Fame 2019: Complete List of NFL Inductees to Canton".
  3. Fiorillo, Steve. "History of the NFL: From the 1890s to the Present". TheStreet. TheStreet, Inc. Retrieved 21 January 2019.
  4. 1 2 3 4 "The Pro Football Hall of Fame: Then and Now". Pro Football Hall of Fame. January 1, 2005. Archived from the original on February 4, 2012. Retrieved February 6, 2011.Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  5. "Pro Football Hall of Fame Village announces 'agreement in principal' on merger that could bring more cash to project". wkyc3.com. Retrieved 2 August 2019.
  6. "Pro Football Hall of Fame Village delays frustrate neighbors in Canton". wkyc3.com. Retrieved 1 August 2019.
  7. "History of the Pro Football Hall of Fame". Pro Football Hall of Fame. Retrieved February 16, 2018.
  8. "Chicago Bears: Team History". Pro Football Hall of Fame. Archived from the original on June 8, 2012. Retrieved February 6, 2011.Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  9. 1 2 "Selection Process". Pro Football Hall of Fame. Archived from the original on January 30, 2012. Retrieved February 6, 2012.Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  10. 1 2 3 "Selection Process FAQ". Pro Football Hall of Fame. Archived from the original on February 1, 2012. Retrieved February 6, 2012.Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  11. 1 2 "Canton welcome mat still out for O.J. Simpson". ESPN.com. July 21, 2017. Retrieved July 22, 2017.
  12. 1 2 "2012 Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Festival Schedule". Pro Football Hall of Fame. Archived from the original on January 20, 2012. Retrieved February 6, 2012.Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  13. "Class of 2007 Presenters". Pro Football Hall of Fame. July 2, 2007. Archived from the original on February 5, 2012. Retrieved February 6, 2012.Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  14. 1 2 Joyner, K C (January 25, 2009). "A Case for Ray Guy Belonging in Pro Football Hall of Fame". The New York Times.
  15. Barall, Andy (February 16, 2012). "How to Fix Football's Hall of Fame Voting System". The New York Times.
  16. King, Peter (October 21, 2014). Behind the HOF’s New Contributor Committee. SI.com. Retrieved October 21, 2014.
  17. Billson, Marky (August 4, 2010). "As strange as it sounds, Howard Cosell has never won Rozelle award". Sports Illustrated . Archived from the original on October 6, 2010. Retrieved August 6, 2017.
  18. Researcher, NFL (February 4, 2013). "Cronyism on the part of the NFL and the Pro Football Hall of Fame?". NFL Sports Blog.
  19. "One Hall of Fame voter sheds light on why Terrell Owens didn't make it in".
  20. Bieler, Des (13 July 2018). "Hall of Fame to answer Terrell Owens' snub by refusing to announce his induction". The Washington Post. Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 21 January 2019.