Tag Archives: Pro Football Hall of Fame

Sports: Pro Football Hall of Fame

 

The Pro Football Hall of Fame has recently opened two new exhibits: Pro Football Today and Moments, Memories, and Mementos. Uploaded by dustinkeirstead.blogspot.com.

It’s unfortunate that professional football (then the American Professional Football Association) had its origins in Canton, Ohio, because that’s where the Hall of Fame organizers felt obligated to place their shrine. Nothing against Canton; I’ve never been there, it might be a fine place for all I know. But it’s neither the quaint old-time village that Cooperstown is for baseball, nor an appealing destination as South Bend, Indiana is for the college game.

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The original building, opened in 1963, has been expanded several times, so that it now totals just over 82,000 sq. ft. Unfortunately, the exterior still looks like a giant juicer. It’s too bad that some of the money raised for expansions didn’t go to improving the architecture.

But it’s the inside that matters, and that’s a fascinating place for football fans. Two new galleries, Pro Football Today and Moments, Memories, and Mementos bring the latest computer and video technology to celebrate the great players and biggest events in the sport’s history. From the game’s greatest legends to the players of today, the Hall brings the artifacts and history of pro football to life. The Hall will bring back lots of memories and provide hours of enjoyment to fans. Even if it is in Canton, Ohio.

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Sports: Joe Namath

 

How does a guy with a record of 62-63-4, 173 touchdowns and 227 interceptions make it into the Hall of Fame? One way is to be bigger than the game, which Joe Namath was. Uploaded by freefootballwallpapers.com.

Before I get specific about Broadway Joe, let’s give a shout out to western Pennsylvania for its unbelievable string of great quarterbacks. Joe Willie Namath is one, but the list also includes Joe Montana, Johnny Unitas, Dan Marino, Jim Kelly, Johnny Lujack, George Blanda, Jeff Hostetler, and others. Namath grew up in Beaver Falls, about 20 miles from Pittsburgh. He received several offers to play Major League Baseball, but chose to play college football for Bear Bryant at Alabama.

That’s a little bit of a puzzler, looking back on it. It’s not that Namath couldn’t play within a team concept, but his personality was so large that it might have been expected to conflict with his coach’s. He was suspended for a couple of

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games once, but he came back the next year and helped the Crimson Tide win the national championship. Instead of signing with the NFL, he chose the rival AFL, whose New York Jets had made him the first pick in the draft. He was a four-time all-star, and led the Jets to the AFC championship in 1968.

1969 was the third year that the AFC champion took on the NFC champ in the Super Bowl (the leagues merged the following year). The first two games were NFL blowouts, and Namath’s Jets were huge underdogs in Super Bowl III. In one of the great upsets in sports history, Namath guaranteed that the Jets would beat the Baltimore Colts – and he made good on his promise. It’s no doubt the single game he’ll always be known for.

Namath was a party guy, and he got in trouble for opening a bar in New York City called “Bachelors III.” What you might call your “unsavory types” became regulars, and the NFL ordered Namath to sell his interest in the club. But far from ruining his reputation, this walk on the wild side actually enhanced it. He’s now in the Pro Football Hall of Fame despite what are actually very ordinary statistics. But he was a legend, and even today, everyone still loves Broadway Joe.

Sports: Vince Lombardi

When Lombardi took over the Packers, they were coming off a 1-12-1 season. They were in the championship game two years later. Uploaded by postalmuseum.si.edu.

Q. Vince Lombardi has become synonymous with which of the following? A. Winning B. The NFL C. Hard Work D. All of the Above

A. D, all of the above

In 1956, the New York Giants won the NFL championship under head coach Jim Lee Howell. That’s forgettable, until you consider that Vince Lombardi was the offensive coordinator and Tom Landry, legendary head coach of the Cowboys, was the defensive coordinator.

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The Green Bay Packers gave Lombardi the opportunity to be a head coach in 1959. The team was coming off a 1-10-1 season. His first year, they improved to 7-5. The next season, he had them in the championship game, but lost. It was to be his only postseason loss. Lombardi led the Packers to NFL championships in 1961, 1962, 1965, 1966, and 1967. The last two wins were in Super Bowls I and II.

Lombardi was known as a strict disciplinarian. “Lombardi time” meant being 10 minutes early or you were considered late. He said, “Mental toughness is many things and rather difficult to explain. Its qualities are sacrifice and self-denial. Also, most importantly, it is combined with a perfectly disciplined will that refuses to give in. It’s a state of mind – you could call it character in action.”

Lombardi is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, of course. And the Super Bowl trophy has been named in his honor. He’d probably be embarrassed by the awards and accolades, but he earned them. Despite his strict regime, his players loved him. And when he died of cancer at age 57, football fans everywhere lost not only a great coach, but a great man.