BOARDMAN, Ohio – I used to think Disneyland was the happiest place on earth. Maybe I was a pre-teen at the time, but as of Wednesday morning, my opinion has officially changed. That’s because a group of 49ers reporters (Cam Inman, Matt Barrows, Eric Branch, TV49’s Scott Kegley and myself) all jumped in a car and headed to the most wonderful place on earth – The Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.
Where do I begin on this…
Let me see, the anticipation of driving up to the Hall of Fame was exciting in its own right. But once you pull up to the building and see the exterior (the same one you’ve seen on television for all those years) it hits you right then and there, this is a place unlike any other.
Joe Horrigan, the Hall’s Vice President of Communication and Exhibits and all of his staff members were more than accommodating to us on our visit. Upon entering the “bust room,” Matt Waechter, the Hall’s website coordinator, found us immediately and showed us the most amazing artifacts in the archive room.
From rare helmets, to unique game-worn cleats, to the first ever pylon used in NFL history, to Pat Tillman’s travel bag – there was history all over the room. 49ers.com’s photo gallery showcased some of the rare sights in the room and other 49ers-related images littered throughout the shrine to pro football’s proud history.
All the beat writers further documented their experiences, a must-read for die-hard football fans.
Inman shared the experience through a storify report, recapping his posts on social media. A highlight was the lunch photo of Taggart’s Ice Cream, a lovely Canton eatery that’s been in business since 1926 – 20 years before the San Francisco 49ers were even founded.
By the time we got back from lunch to finish seeing the rest of the hallowed grounds, the Hall of Fame staff notified us that David Akers’ NFL record-tying, 63-yard field goal ball was prominently displayed in the players of today section of the hall.
I also couldn’t help but hook Jerry Rice up with a 49ers New Era hat. Don’t worry, I held it up over Rice’s head, would never disrespect the bust itself.
Barrows shared some of the rarest things we discovered in the archive room and touched on the newly created Ralph Wilson Jr. Research and Preservation Center that features photos and publications from all throughout NFL history – including the team’s first ever game program from a 1946 loss to the New York Yankees. Barrows: “Some of the best stuff, however, isn’t on display. It’s in storage in the basement, which – special thanks to the Hall’s Matt Waechter – we were able to visit. On one of the shelves is a folded up piece of green carpet. Oh, that’s the section of turf from Three Rivers Stadium on which Franco Harris made the Immaculate Reception.”
Branch shares his personal ties to the Hall of Fame and what it meant to finally make it to Canton. Branch: “As a child, I worshiped Tony Dorsett and the moments when the sermon ended, my dad ferried us home and — glory, glory, Hallelujah! – the voice of the pastor was replaced by Pat Summerall’s. True story: At 8, I watched the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game in its entirety (final score: Packers 0, Chargers 0). Thirty-two years, a wife and two daughters later, I arrived in Canton and was transported back to a time when I pulled tube socks to my knees and was riveted by scoreless preseason ties.”
Kevin Lynch of SFGate.com shared the latest updates on the new Santa Clara Stadium progress. A stunning photograph was also included in the report. Lynch: “While the media was there, a large section of escalator was swinging into place in the west suite tower. (Project Executive Jack) Hill said the project is on target and so far he has avoided major hiccups. A Dallas native, Hill oversaw the construction of the Cowboys stadium. Now he’s hoping for a dry winter.”
Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com explains that NaVorro Bowman leads the NFL in tackles, a subjective statistic.
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This year’s team is already represented in Canton.
Tags: David Akers, Jerry Rice, Navorro Bowman
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