WASHINGTON, D.C. - Pro Football Hall of Famers joined members of Congress this week in calling for a commemorative coin honoring Canton's Pro Football Hall of Fame during this its 50th anniversary year.
"We had (Senate Majority Leader) Harry Reid come to the reception last night," Ohio Sen. Rob Portman told Newschannel5. "He's kind of important to get the bill on the floor of the Senate and there's nothing like bringing Hall of Famers in to get people focused on this issue."
Reid added his name to the bill Wednesday as a co-sponsor and so did eight other Senators including fellow Democrats Barbara Boxer of California and Claire McCaskill of Missouri. That's a good sign for the effort which passed the House last year, but died in the Senate.
Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown is also a co-sponsor.
The bill calls for the U.S. Mint to issue a limited number of $5 gold coins, $1 silver coins and half dollar coins that would be sold to collectors for significantly more than the cost of the coins.
"It won't cost taxpayers a dime," said Portman. "You make these coins and then sell them as collectors' items and the proceeds are used to pay for the cost of making the coins and the rest of it goes to the Hall of Fame for their 50th anniversary and for some new projects they have there to spruce up the Hall of Fame and also for some great outreach projects they have working with at risk kids and other things. "
The House version was introduced by Rep. Jim Renacci and is cosponsored by every Ohio Member of Congress except House Speaker John Boehner and Rep. Marcie Kaptur.
"It's a treasure for Ohio to have the Football Hall of Fame in our state," Portman said. "It already attracts a lot of visitors, it can be even better and stronger with this coin. "
"Most of these Hall of Famers came from very humble backgrounds and they have done well both in their careers in football but also after football, so they're terrific role models and that's one thing the Hall of Fame does is to push them out in the communities and help to provide people the sense of hope and these Hall of Famers ought to be held up as good role models," Portman said.