Pro Football Hall of Fame Game

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Pro Football Hall of Fame Game
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Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium before the start of the 2017 Pro Football Hall of Fame Game

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The Pro Football Hall of Fame Game is an annual National Football League (NFL) exhibition game that is held the weekend of the Pro Football Hall of Fame's induction ceremonies. The game is played at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium, which is located adjacent to the Hall of Fame building in Canton, Ohio. It is traditionally the first game played in the NFL preseason for any given year, marking the end of the NFL's six-month off-season.

National Football League Professional American football league

The National Football League (NFL) is a professional American football league consisting of 32 teams, divided equally between the National Football Conference (NFC) and the American Football Conference (AFC). The NFL is one of the four major professional sports leagues in North America, and the highest professional level of American football in the world. The NFL's 17-week regular season runs from early September to late December, with each team playing 16 games and having one bye week. Following the conclusion of the regular season, six teams from each conference advance to the playoffs, a single-elimination tournament culminating in the Super Bowl, which is usually held in the first Sunday in February, and is played between the champions of the NFC and AFC.

Exhibition game sporting event wherein the result has no external impact

An exhibition game is a sporting event whose prize money and impact on the player's or the team's rankings is either zero or otherwise greatly reduced. In team sports, matches of this type are often used to help coaches and managers select and condition players for the competitive matches of a league season or tournament. If the players usually play in different teams in other leagues, exhibition games offer an opportunity for the players to learn to work with each other. The games can be held between separate teams or between parts of the same team.

Pro Football Hall of Fame Professional sports hall of fame in Canton, Ohio

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."


Team selection

The two teams that play in the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game are typically selected by the league in advance of the remainder of the preseason schedule. The participants are usually announced around the time that the new Hall of Fame members are announced, which coincides with Super Bowl week. Often, if a particularly notable player will be entering the Hall of Fame that year, a team they were strongly associated with may be selected to play in the game to help maximize attendance and publicity of the game itself. From 1971 to 2010, the opponents for each game usually included one AFC team and one NFC team. In 2009, as recognition of the 50th anniversary of the American Football League, the game paired two AFC teams who were part of the "original eight" franchises of the AFL, the Tennessee Titans (dressed as their previous incarnation, the Houston Oilers) and the Buffalo Bills, whose owner, Ralph Wilson, was inducted into the Hall that year. An all-NFC matchup was scheduled for 2011, [1] but it was canceled due to the 2011 NFL lockout; the following year, another intra-conference matchup of two NFC teams took its place. From 2011 onward, each team selected to play in the game has had at least one prominent alumnus being inducted into the Hall that year.

Super Bowl Annual championship game of the National Football League in American football

The Super Bowl is the annual championship game of the National Football League (NFL) where the champion of the National Football Conference (NFC) competes against the champion of the American Football Conference (AFC). The game is the culmination of a regular season that begins in the late summer of the previous calendar year. Normally, Roman numerals are used to identify each game, rather than the year in which it is held. For example, Super Bowl I was played on January 15, 1967, following the 1966 regular season. The sole exception to this naming convention tradition occurred with Super Bowl 50, which was played on February 7, 2016, following the 2015 regular season, and the following year, the nomenclature returned to Roman numerals for Super Bowl LI, following the 2016 regular season. The upcoming Super Bowl is Super Bowl LIV, scheduled for February 2, 2020, following the 2019 regular season.

American Football Conference one of two conferences in the National Football League

The American Football Conference (AFC) is one of the two conferences of the National Football League (NFL), the highest professional level of American football in the United States. This conference and its counterpart the National Football Conference (NFC), currently contain 16 teams organized into 4 divisions. Both conferences were created as part of the 1970 merger with the rival American Football League (AFL), with all ten of the former AFL teams and three NFL teams forming the AFC, and the remaining thirteen NFL clubs forming the NFC. A series of league expansions and division realignments have occurred since the merger, thus making the current total of 16 clubs in each conference. The current AFC champions are the New England Patriots, who defeated the Kansas City Chiefs in the 2018 AFC Championship Game for their 11th conference championship.

National Football Conference one of two conferences in the National Football League

The National Football Conference (NFC) is one of the two conferences of the National Football League (NFL), the highest professional level of American football in the United States. This conference and its counterpart the American Football Conference (AFC), currently contain 16 teams organized into 4 divisions. Both conferences were created as part of the 1970 merger with the rival American Football League (AFL), with all ten of the former AFL teams and three NFL teams forming the AFC while the remaining thirteen NFL clubs formed the NFC. A series of league expansions and division realignments have occurred since the merger, thus making the current total of 16 clubs in each conference. The current NFC champions are the Los Angeles Rams, who defeated the New Orleans Saints in the 2018 NFC Championship Game for their fourth conference championship.

Because this game and the Hall of Fame's induction ceremonies are scheduled on the weekend before the league's regular four-week exhibition season begins, both teams end up playing five exhibition games instead of the normal four, and unlike the Canadian Football League (which plays its two-game exhibition season over three weeks), the league does not remove one.

Canadian Football League Professional Canadian football league

The Canadian Football League is a professional sports league in Canada. The CFL is the highest level of competition in Canadian football. The league consists of nine teams, each located in a city in Canada. They are divided into two divisions: four teams in the East Division and five teams in the West Division.

The last four expansion teams to have been added to the league each played in the Hall of Fame Game as their first game. In 1995, expansion clubs Jacksonville and Carolina played each another, and in 2002, Houston was one of the participants. When the Cleveland Browns returned to the league with a rebooted roster in 1999, they too played in the Hall of Fame Game. The Baltimore Ravens, while officially considered as being established in 1996, did not play in the Hall of Fame Game until 2018. With the Ravens' participation in the 2018 game, all 32 current NFL teams have now played in the Hall of Fame game at least once.

An expansion team is a new team in a sports league, usually from a city that has not hosted a team in that league before, formed with the intention of satisfying the demand for a local team from a population in a new area. Sporting leagues also hope that the expansion of their competition will grow the popularity of the sport generally. The term is most commonly used in reference to the North American major professional sports leagues but is applied to sports leagues in other countries with a closed franchise system of league membership. The term comes from the expansion of the sport into new areas. That sometimes results in the payment of an expansion fee to the league by the new team and an expansion draft to populate the new roster.

The 1995 NFL season was the 76th regular season of the National Football League. The league expanded to 30 teams with the addition of the Carolina Panthers and the Jacksonville Jaguars. The two expansion teams were slotted into the two remaining divisions that previously had only four teams : the AFC Central (Jaguars) and the NFC West (Panthers).

Jacksonville Jaguars National Football League franchise in Jacksonville, Florida

The Jacksonville Jaguars are a professional football franchise based in Jacksonville, Florida. The Jaguars compete in the National Football League (NFL) as a member club of the American Football Conference (AFC) South division. The team plays its home games at TIAA Bank Field.


Prior to the AFL–NFL merger, the Hall of Fame Game was played in August or September, in some cases at the end of the preseason. In 1970, it was moved to the beginning of the preseason. Prior to 2002, it was not uncommon for the game to be played in July. Since 2002, when the league permanently moved the start of the season to the weekend after Labor Day, the game has always been played in early August.

The AFL–NFL merger was the merger of the two major professional American football leagues in the United States at the time: the National Football League (NFL) and the American Football League (AFL). It paved the way for the combined league, which retained the "National Football League" name and logo, to become one of the most popular sports leagues in the United States. The merger was announced on the evening of June 8, 1966. Under the merger agreement, the leagues maintained separate regular-season schedules for the next four seasons—from 1966 through 1969—and then officially merged before the 1970 season to form one league with two conferences.

Labor Day public holiday in the United States

Labor Day in the United States of America is a public holiday celebrated on the first Monday in September. It honors the American labor movement and the contributions that workers have made to the strength, prosperity, laws, and well-being of the country. It is the Monday of the long weekend known as Labor Day Weekend. It is recognized as a federal holiday.

The 2011 game was originally scheduled between the St. Louis Rams and the Chicago Bears, but the game was canceled due to an ongoing labor dispute that had disrupted nearly all league activity during the 2011 offseason. The two clubs had set a deadline of July 22 to ratify a resolution in enough time to prepare for the game. The league and players did not ratify the agreement until July 25, forcing cancellation of the game.

The 2011 NFL season was the 92nd regular season of the National Football League. It began on Thursday, September 8, 2011, with the Super Bowl XLV champion Green Bay Packers defeating the Super Bowl XLIV champion New Orleans Saints 42–34 at Lambeau Field and ended with Super Bowl XLVI, the league's championship game, on February 5, 2012, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis where the New York Giants defeated the New England Patriots 21–17.

History of the St. Louis Rams

The professional American football franchise now known as the Los Angeles Rams played in St. Louis, Missouri, as the St. Louis Rams from the 1995 through the 2015 seasons. The Rams franchise relocated from Los Angeles to St. Louis in 1995, which had been without a National Football League (NFL) team since the Cardinals moved to Phoenix, Arizona in 1988. The team's primary stadium was The Dome at America's Center, which was known as the Trans World Dome and the Edward Jones Dome while utilized by the Rams.

Chicago Bears National Football League franchise in Chicago, Illinois

The Chicago Bears are a professional American football team based in Chicago, Illinois. The Bears compete in the National Football League (NFL) as a member club of the league's National Football Conference (NFC) North division. The Bears have won nine NFL Championships, including one Super Bowl, and hold the NFL record for the most enshrinees in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the most retired jersey numbers. The Bears have also recorded more victories than any other NFL franchise.

The 2016 edition, which was scheduled to be played between the Green Bay Packers and the Indianapolis Colts, was canceled due to unsafe playing conditions. Mike Silver of reported that on the morning of game day, it was discovered the logos at midfield and the end zones had been painted using paint which was not intended for use on the newly installed FieldTurf. Subsequently, the paint had not fully dried, and officials heated the field to speed up the drying process, causing the turf's rubber to melt; the affected areas were described as being slick and "like cement," making it impossible to get decent footing. Stadium officials attempted to address this by applying paint thinner to the turf, but a Packers employee noticed a label warning that this substance could result in burns when exposed to skin, and alerted them to the discovery.

In deciding to cancel the game, the league and the Players Association cited safety concerns. [2] [3] [4] Both teams were told at 6:40 p.m., an hour and 20 minutes before kickoff, that the game was going to be canceled. However, fans in the stadium only learned of the pending cancellation via social media, and no official announcement was made until just before the scheduled 8 p.m. kickoff, which was greeted by boos and jeering. [5]

On December 28, 2016, the NFL announced that the 2017 edition of the game would be played on a Thursday (August 3). This scheduling change made the Hall of Fame Game the first event of the Hall of Fame Weekend. The 2018 game was also played on a Thursday (August 2). [6] Come 2019, the game will be played on Thursday, (August 1).

Television and radio

Unlike the majority of NFL preseason games, which air on local TV stations, the Hall of Fame Game airs nationwide. From 1999 to 2005, the game was held on Monday night, televised as part of ABC's Monday Night Football package. It had previously been held typically on Saturday afternoons, except from 1963 to 1965 on Sunday afternoons, televised as part of ABC's Wide World of Sports package (still using the MNF crew). In 1998, the game was put in the MNF package, and played on a Saturday night, which served as a test run for the move to Monday night. Starting in 2006, it was moved to Sunday night, coinciding with the new NBC Sunday Night Football [7] television package.

The 2007 game was telecast on NFL Network, as NBC was intending to televise the China Bowl game in Beijing, China (a game which was postponed to 2009 and later canceled). Since then, the Hall of Fame Game aired on NBC every year except 2011 (canceled due to the 2011 NFL lockout), 2012 (on NFL Network) and 2016 (scheduled to air on ESPN, but canceled because of field concerns), due to NBC's coverage of the 2012 and 2016 Summer Olympics, respectively. The Hall of fame Game was on NBC in 2006 and 2008 Also in 2009 and 2010. And From 2013-2015. After a one year absence in 2016 The Game Returned to NBC in 2017 and will remain on the network until 2019. Likewise, the 2020 Hall of Fame Game will air on either NFL Network or ESPN due to NBC's coverage of the 2020 Summer Olympics. The Hall of Fame Game is expected to return to NBC in 2021.

Westwood One owns national radio rights; it is the only preseason game to air on a nationwide network. Each team's radio network is also allowed to broadcast the games (albeit usually with fewer affiliates since exhibition games are traditionally much lower priority to non-sports and non-flagship stations).

In 2007 and 2008, the game was broadcast live in both Ireland and the United Kingdom by Sky Sports. It was not shown in 2009 because of a dispute between Sky Sports and the NFL over TV rights. ESPN America (formerly North American Sports Network) broadcasts the game in the rest of Europe.

From 1998 to 2005, the Global Television Network aired the game in Canada, simulcasting ABC; upon the move to Sunday night in 2006, the CTV Television Network aired the game until 2010. With CTV airing the 2012 Summer Olympics, TSN broadcast the Hall of Fame Game in 2012. Azteca 7 aired Spanish-language coverage of the Hall of Fame Game in Mexico from 1998 to 2005; the Game moved to Canal 5 in 2006 and aired on that station until 2010. Due to the cancellation of the 2011 Hall of Fame Game and Televisa's Summer Olympics coverage, the Hall of Fame Game moved to Televisa Deportes in 2012 and then to Galavision in 2013.

Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium is part of the Cleveland market, and is also within 75 miles of numerous other television markets in northeast Ohio and western Pennsylvania. As such, the NBC affiliates (and before them, the ABC affiliates) were within league requirements to blackout the game in the rare event the game does not sell out, during the time the league had a blackout policy.[ when? ] Because the stadium only holds 22,375 fans (less than half the capacity of any other NFL stadium except the Dignity Health Sports Park, the temporary home of the Los Angeles Chargers) and the Hall of Fame induction ceremonies bring large numbers of outside fans to Canton, the game has, to date, always sold out.[ citation needed ]

Game history

DayDateAway teamAway scoreHome teamHome scoreRecap
SaturdayAugust 11, 1962 New York Giants 21 St. Louis Cardinals 21 Recap
SundaySeptember 8, 1963 Cleveland Browns 7 Pittsburgh Steelers 16 Recap
SundaySeptember 6, 1964 Baltimore Colts 48 Pittsburgh Steelers 17 Recap
SundaySeptember 12, 1965 Detroit Lions 3 Washington Redskins 20 Recap
SaturdayAugust 5, 1967 Cleveland Browns 13 Philadelphia Eagles 28 Recap
SaturdayAugust 3, 1968 Dallas Cowboys 24 Chicago Bears 30 Recap
SaturdaySeptember 13, 1969 Green Bay Packers 38 Atlanta Falcons 24 Recap
SaturdayAugust 8, 1970 New Orleans Saints 14 Minnesota Vikings 13 Recap
SaturdayJuly 31, 1971 Houston Oilers 6 Los Angeles Rams 17 Recap
SaturdayJuly 29, 1972 Kansas City Chiefs 23 New York Giants 17 Recap
SaturdayJuly 28, 1973 San Francisco 49ers 20 New England Patriots 7 Recap
SaturdayJuly 27, 1974 Buffalo Bills 13 St. Louis Cardinals 21 Recap
SaturdayAugust 2, 1975 Washington Redskins 17 Cincinnati Bengals 9 Recap
SaturdayJuly 24, 1976 Denver Broncos 10 Detroit Lions 7 Recap
SaturdayJuly 30, 1977 Chicago Bears 20 New York Jets 6 Recap
SaturdayJuly 29, 1978 Miami Dolphins 3 Philadelphia Eagles 17 Recap
SaturdayJuly 28, 1979 Dallas Cowboys 13 Oakland Raiders 20 Recap
SaturdayAugust 2, 1980 San Diego Chargers 0 Green Bay Packers 0 Recap [n 1]
SaturdayAugust 1, 1981 Atlanta Falcons 10 Cleveland Browns 24 Recap
SaturdayAugust 7, 1982 Baltimore Colts 14 Minnesota Vikings 30 Recap
SaturdayJuly 30, 1983 New Orleans Saints 14 Pittsburgh Steelers 27 Recap
SaturdayJuly 28, 1984 Seattle Seahawks 38 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 0 Recap
SaturdayAugust 3, 1985 New York Giants 21 Houston Oilers 20 Recap
SaturdayAugust 2, 1986 New England Patriots 21 St. Louis Cardinals 16 Recap
SaturdayAugust 8, 1987 San Francisco 49ers 20 Kansas City Chiefs 7 Recap
SaturdayJuly 30, 1988 Cincinnati Bengals 14 Los Angeles Rams 7 Recap
SaturdayAugust 5, 1989 Washington Redskins 31 Buffalo Bills 6 Recap
SaturdayAugust 4, 1990 Cleveland Browns 0 Chicago Bears 13 Recap
SaturdayJuly 27, 1991 Detroit Lions 14 Denver Broncos 3 Recap
SaturdayAugust 1, 1992 New York Jets 41 Philadelphia Eagles 14 Recap
SaturdayJuly 31, 1993 Green Bay Packers 3 Los Angeles Raiders 19 Recap
SaturdayJuly 30, 1994 San Diego Chargers 17 Atlanta Falcons 21 Recap
SaturdayJuly 29, 1995 Carolina Panthers 20 Jacksonville Jaguars 14 Recap
SaturdayJuly 27, 1996 Indianapolis Colts 10 New Orleans Saints 3 Recap
SaturdayJuly 26, 1997 Minnesota Vikings 28 Seattle Seahawks 26 Recap
SaturdayAugust 1, 1998 Pittsburgh Steelers 6 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 30 Recap
MondayAugust 9, 1999 Dallas Cowboys 17 Cleveland Browns 20 Recap
MondayJuly 31, 2000 New England Patriots 20 San Francisco 49ers 0 Recap
MondayAugust 6, 2001 St. Louis Rams 17 Miami Dolphins 10 Recap
MondayAugust 5, 2002 Houston Texans 17 New York Giants 34 Recap
MondayAugust 4, 2003 Green Bay Packers 0 Kansas City Chiefs 9 Recap [n 2]
MondayAugust 9, 2004 Denver Broncos 17 Washington Redskins 20 Recap
MondayAugust 8, 2005 Chicago Bears 27 Miami Dolphins 24 Recap
SundayAugust 6, 2006 Oakland Raiders 16 Philadelphia Eagles 10 Recap
SundayAugust 5, 2007 New Orleans Saints 7 Pittsburgh Steelers 20 Recap
SundayAugust 3, 2008 Indianapolis Colts 16 Washington Redskins 30 Recap
SundayAugust 9, 2009 Buffalo Bills 18 Tennessee Titans 21 Recap
SundayAugust 8, 2010 Dallas Cowboys 16 Cincinnati Bengals 7 Recap
SundayAugust 7, 2011Canceled due to 2011 NFL lockout Ref. [n 3]
SundayAugust 5, 2012 Arizona Cardinals 10 New Orleans Saints 17 Recap
SundayAugust 4, 2013 Miami Dolphins 20 Dallas Cowboys 24 Recap
SundayAugust 3, 2014 New York Giants 17 Buffalo Bills 13 Recap
SundayAugust 9, 2015 Pittsburgh Steelers 3 Minnesota Vikings 14 Recap
SundayAugust 7, 2016Canceled due to poor field conditions Ref. [n 4]
ThursdayAugust 3, 2017 Arizona Cardinals 18 Dallas Cowboys 20 Recap
ThursdayAugust 2, 2018 Chicago Bears 16 Baltimore Ravens 17 Recap
ThursdayAugust 1, 2019 Denver Broncos Atlanta Falcons
  1. The 1980 game ended with 5:29 remaining in the fourth quarter in a 0-0 tie due to severe lightning.
  2. The 2003 game ended with 5:49 remaining in the third quarter due to severe lightning with the Chiefs leading 9-0.
  3. The 2011 game was scheduled to be St. Louis Rams vs. Chicago Bears, but was canceled due to the lockout.
  4. The 2016 game was scheduled to be Green Bay Packers vs Indianapolis Colts, but was canceled due to poor field conditions.


TeamGamesWLTPCTLast appearance
Pittsburgh Steelers6330.5002015
Dallas Cowboys6330.5002017
Washington Redskins55001.0002008
Chicago Bears5410.8002018
New York Giants5311.7002014
Cleveland Browns5230.4001999
New Orleans Saints5230.4002012
Arizona/St. Louis Cardinals5131.3002017
Minnesota Vikings4310.7502015
Philadelphia Eagles4220.5002006
Indianapolis/Baltimore Colts4220.5002008
Green Bay Packers4121.3752003
Miami Dolphins4040.0002013
Buffalo Bills4040.0002014
Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders33001.0002006
New England Patriots3210.6672000
San Francisco 49ers3210.6672000
Los Angeles/St. Louis Rams3210.6672001
Kansas City Chiefs3210.6672003
Detroit Lions3120.3331991
Atlanta Falcons3120.3331994
Denver Broncos3120.3332004
Tennessee Titans/Houston Oilers3120.3332009
Cincinnati Bengals3120.3332010
New York Jets2110.5001992
Seattle Seahawks2110.5001997
Tampa Bay Buccaneers2110.5001998
Los Angeles/San Diego Chargers2011.2501994
Carolina Panthers11001.0001995
Baltimore Ravens11001.0002018
Jacksonville Jaguars1010.0001995
Houston Texans1010.0002002

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  1. "Individual Tickets & Festival Fan Packages". Archived from the original on September 10, 2012. Retrieved September 28, 2012.
  2. Silver, Mike (2016-08-04). "Hall of Fame Game cancellation: NFL made the right decision".
  3. Demovsky, Rob (August 7, 2016). "Poor field conditions force cancellation of Hall of Fame game". Retrieved August 7, 2016.
  4. "Hall of Fame Game fiasco: How the wrong paint, melted rubber, and caustic paint thinner nixed Packers-Colts". Acme Packing Company (SBNation). Vox Media. Retrieved 10 August 2016.
  5. Doyel, Gregg (2016-08-07). "Doyel: NFL fans deserve better". The Indianapolis Star.
  6. "Pro Football Hall of Fame Experiences". Retrieved January 16, 2018.
  7. ""Sunday Night Football" Debuts". NBC Sports History Page.