March 24, 2009

FIELD TRIP! – Pro Football Hall of Fame

FIELD TRIP! is hopefully another regular aspect that we at Outside the Boxscore will try to work into the blog. Any time we go somewhere cool and sports related we’ll try to write a little something and post some pictures. Granted it won’t be a wicked regular segment, but time to time it might pop up.


Anyways, yesterday me and Mr. Chew ambled over to Canton, Ohio to see the Football Hall of Fame. We had both been there before and so it wasn’t an entirely new experience, but there are a bunch of things that were either new or only really struck me this time, and so I thought I’d discuss them here.


First of all, I have to throw up the obligatory Dick Butkus pictures. He didn't make it into the Great Sports Name Hall of Fame, but he certainly was one of the most talented NFL linebackers to ever play the sport. To the left is the lovely bust of this beast of a man, truly showing off his awesome glory. Next to the intro for this post is part of an exhibit that showcased his helmet and a clickable button that told you about how beastly Butkus truly was. However all that talk kind of distracted you from the important point that Dick Butkus was indeed the man and that he did, indeed, play angry. And so I snapped a picture of the important part and moved on.


The second thing about the Hall that really struck me, and which I had noticed before, but not quite so in such a pronounced fashion, was that it is filled with some ridiculous things. Like it’s one thing to have guys like Gus Frerotte and Alex Smith get in the Hall for random achievements. But some of the exhibits are just plain random. My favorite has got to be the one that shows that Emmitt Smith broke the old rushing records of Walter Payton and Jim Brown. Only they can’t just settle with a jersey and a plaque. They have to actually have an entirely white painted nondescript football player (why they went cheap here when most of the other guys in the Hall are fully depicted I don’t know) at the end of a long stretch with 2 broken planes of glass (plastic) in his wake. Glass (more plastic) shards on the ground to add to the effect. The record is great and all, but the display is absolutely ridiculous.


It gets better. Check out the team area where there’s a board explaining the history of each of the NFL’s 32 teams complete with a helmet for each team. Behind the writing of each board is the picture of a player who is representative of the franchise. The Texans have Andre Johnson, the Broncos have John Elway, makes sense. The Falcons, however, have DeAngelo Hall. The same guy who complained his way out of Atlanta and forced Arthur Blank’s hand so that he had to trade him to the Raiders is the pictured athlete for the entire Falcon franchise. Now I get that Michael Vick was probably there before and that they had to replace him with someone. But not all the players are current, couldn’t they have put Jamal Anderson or someone there instead? I know I’m being picky, but this one stuck with me all day.


Another great piece is the GameDay Stadium Theater, where they show you a video about the NFL, training camp through super bowl. Halfway through the showing, the entire area of seats does a 180 just to switch video screens/put you near an exit, which I knew was coming but still totally jumped a bit. The video itself is interesting, not so much for the “behind the scenes” action but more for the players who you see a lot of in it. There’s a ton of Ryan Leaf, some early Colts/Vikings action of Peyton Manning and Randy Moss, and a helluva lot of Cris Carter and Jerome Bettis. My favorite part (well besides the amazingly obscure Amp Lee plunging for a touchdown)? At one point Broncos Coach Mike Shanahan takes a WR aside in training camp and explains to him that he could be a great player in this league one day but that he’s got to make all the catches. The player? Sir Mawn Wilson, who played one year with the Broncos and bounced around a few practice squads before he left the league and played some Arena Football. Guess he never quite learned everything Shanahan had to teach, but at least he’s (sort of) in the Football Hall of Fame.


This all being said, there are some really cool artifacts within the Football Hall of Fame. One of my biggest favorites was the impressive collections cleats they have, especially the personalized ones. I didn’t get a good picture of Eric Dickerson’s cleats, which I thought were pretty snazzy and read "First Down." However, I did get a picture of Morten Andersen's absurd cleats. They're in the Hall for Andersen's consecutive games record as a kicker, and they read "Strength" on the side (as you can see). Dickerson’s had words too, but they were real small and in yellow and sort of awesome. Andersen's I was much less impressed by. Sure I guess a kicker needs leg strength for long field goals into the wind, but when I picture Morten Andersen as a 42 year old late in his career, I don't really see strength. I mean the guy ended up having a FG maximum distance of like 42 yards by the end of his career.


Another great exhibit? This random area where there are life size statues of eight to nine random great players on the left and a bunch of jerseys with audio on the right. When I say random I mean random, it’s like Reggie White and Johnny Unitas and Anthony Munoz and Chuck Noll and a few others, with nothing connecting them/explaining why they specifically were chosen. My favorite of all these players was Walter “Sweetness” Payton, who is kind of chilling in the middle of it all with his trademark headband. I also thought it was kind of weird that he and the others had all this stuff on but no cleats, but I guess they just didn’t donate cleats to the Hall or something. Although Sweetness DID have cleats on display in the same case that Eric Dickerson did, so who knows since, after all, the Hall is freaking weird.


Lastly, no trip to anywhere is complete without a gift shop stop. We spent $0 in the gift shop, but had a good time browsing. Awesome items included foam Eagle Heads and Cowboy Hats, Bears Cedric Benson figures on clearance, and these stand up 2D figures of players past and present. I took pictures of a bunch of these, including Derek Anderson, Mike Ditka, and Dick Butkus (of course), but the best had to be Terrell Owens. I mean he wasn’t even in the same area as the other available stand ups, he was standing on a clearance table all by himself (even though he wasn’t on clearance). Figures TO would have to make a spectacle of himself, even in a HOF gift shop.


That does it for the cool stuff we saw/things I thought about them. Other interesting tidbits include the following:

- TGI Friday’s has great mozzarella sticks

- Me and Ben had a Madden-off. He won in a high scoring affair by 17 pts, but not before I returned a kickoff for a TD with DeSean Jackson with a bunch of 8 year olds cheering me on.

- Me and Ben also has a QB challenge in the throwing cage. Results were unimpressive, but Ben won. Suffice it to say, I’m more of a TE/WR type.

- If you ever go yourself, pick O.J. Simpson’s nose. A friend of mine does it every time she goes (she’s from Canton). Sadly we were unable to because security was all over the Hall of Busts. But that’s the way the cookie crumbles.


Anyways, that was our trip to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Hope you liked reading about it half as much as we liked visiting it.

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