CANTON, Ohio - The great NFL football coach and broadcast play-by-play man John Madden was very philosophical, and perhaps mystical, about the Pro Football Hall of Fame, where there is a bust in his image. He said he believed when the Hall of Fame building in Canton, Ohio closes its doors and its last worker turns out the lights, the busts talk to each other.
It is a wonderful thought that those 280 busts exchange words. The number grows to 287 when the class of 2013 is inducted. No doubt, there will be tears on the faces of some of the big men.
The Pro Football Hall of Fame is celebrating its 50th anniversary and boasting of its $27 million expansion project. It is wonderful to visit Canton, where the Hall of Fame was built out of historical respect for the beginnings of professional football in the United States.
Even a 1920 Hupmobile car is there. It played a part in the beginnings of what would become the National Football League. The founders of the first professional football league gathered in a Hupmobile automobile dealership in Canton to hammer out their agreement. The dealership was owned by the owner of the Canton Bulldogs team.
"Any visitor who comes here, whether they're a rabid fan who sits in the Dawg Pound or they're someone whose being dragged here with the rest of the family, they will come out with a very enjoyable experience," said Pete Fierle, manager of digital and media communications for the hall.
Whether it is static exhibits of uniforms worn by the game's greats or the touch screens showing highlights of games, there are thousands of stories to be told at the game.
The spiritual heart of the Hall of Fame is the room of busts of each player, coach, team owner, or other person elected to the historic hall. The light level in the room is low with each bust having a small light to illuminate it. It is here where many former players come to see their likenesses.
In this place, they are all on the same team: that of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
"As Deacon Jones used to say, that is a team that you can't be cut from, you can't be traded from and you can't even die off of," Fierle said.
Outside the hall is a football field where visitors are invited to walk or run across. There are often children running routes on the game as they play catch with footballs. No doubt, they are dreaming of one day having their own likenesses placed in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.