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Pro Football Hall of Fame logo

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Pro Football Hall of Fame
Location and history
Canton, Ohio, U.S.
Steve Perry
Visitor figures
191,943 (2010)[1]
Year/Date opened
September 7, 1963
Groundbreaking date
August 11, 1962
Expansion history
Original size
19,000 sq. ft, including two showrooms
First major expansion:
May 1971, to 82,307 sq. ft, adding third showroom
First major expansion cost:
$620,000 USD
Last major expansion to date:
July 1993, added 5th room, completed October 1995
Last expansion cost:
$9,200,000 USD

The Pro Football Hall of Fame is the hall of fame of the National Football League (NFL). It opened in Canton, Ohio, United States, on September 7 1963 with 17 charter inductees.[2] Through 2008, all but one of the player inductees played some part of their pro career in the NFL (the lone exception is Buffalo Bills guard Billy Shaw, who played his entire career in the American Football League (AFL) prior to the 1970 AFL-NFL merger). The Chicago Bears have the most Hall of Famers in the league at 26.[3][4]


Canton was selected as the location for the Hall of Fame primarily for three reasons:[2] First, the NFL, then known as the American Professional Football Association, was founded in Canton in 1920. Second, the now-defunct Canton Bulldogs were a successful NFL team based in Canton during the first few years of the league. And finally, the community of Canton successfully lobbied the NFL to have the Hall built in their

Groundbreaking for the building was held on August 11, 1962. The original building contained just two rooms, and 19000 square feet of interior space. The Hall opened in 1963. Although there were two professional football leagues at the time, the NFL and the American Football League, and though its name is the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the selectors of the inductees were from NFL cities only. The Hall drew officials from NFL executives, notably from the Washington Redskins, and its first class of inductees included the Redskins' openly anti-black owner George Preston Marshall.

In April 1970, groundbreaking occurred for the first of many expansions. This first expansion cost $620,000, and was completed in May 1971. The size was increased to 34000 square feet by adding another room. The gift shop opened with this expansion. This was also an important milestone for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, as yearly attendance passed the 200,000 mark for the first time, at least in some part due to the increase in popularity of Pro Football caused by the advent of the American Football League and its success in the final two AFL-NFL World Championship games.

In November 1977, work began on another expansion project, costing US$1,200,000. It was completed in November 1978, enlarging the gift shop and research library, while doubling the size of the theater. The total size of the hall was now 50500 square feet, more than 2.5 times the original size.

The building remained largely unchanged until July 1993. The hall then announced yet another expansion, costing US$9,200,000, and adding a fifth room. This expansion was completed in October 1995. The building's size was increased to 82307 square feet. The most notable addition was the GameDay Stadium, which shows an NFL Films production on a 20 ft by 42 ft Cinemascope screen.[5]

Selection process

Board of Selectors

Enshrinees are selected by a 44 person committee, largely made up of sportswriters, officially known as the Board of Selectors.[6]

Usually, the representative is a beat writer for the major newspaper in that city, although this is not always the case; for instance, the Atlanta Falcons are represented by senior writer Len Pasquarelli (who lives in Atlanta and formerly wrote for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution), and the Jacksonville Jaguars are represented by WJXT sports director Sam Kouvaris.

There are also eleven at-large delegates (usually cities that lose NFL teams keep representation on the board; Los Angeles is the only current city to have lost an NFL team and not been granted an expansion team), and one representative from the Pro Football Writers of America. Except for the PFWA representative, who is appointed to a two-year term, all other appointments are open-ended and terminated only by death, retirement, or resignation.

Voting procedure

To be eligible for the nominating process, a player must have been retired at least five years, and a coach must be retired (as of 2007, retired for five years). Any other contributor such as a team owner or executive can be elected at any time.[7]

Fans may nominate any player, coach or contributor by simply writing to the Pro Football Hall of Fame via letter or email. The Selection Committee is then polled three times by mail to eventually narrow the list to 25 semifinalists: once in March, one in September, and one in October. In November, the committee then selects 15 finalists by mail balloting.

Nine members of the Selection Committee also serve as a subcommittee known as the Seniors Committee to screen candidates who finished their careers 25 or more years prior.[7] The Seniors Committee then adds two finalists from prior to the modern era, making a final ballot of 17.

The Selection Committee then meets the day before each Super Bowl game to elect a new class. To be elected, a finalist must receive at least 80 percent support from the Board, with at least four, but no more than seven, candidates being elected annually. If no candidate gets 80 percent, then the top four vote-getters will get in that year. If more than seven get 80 percent, then only the top seven vote-getters will be inducted.

Induction ceremony

The induction ceremony is usually held the first full weekend in August. A community festival is held throughout the week in Canton leading up to the induction ceremonies. Also, the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game, an annual NFL pre-season exhibition game, is held the day after the induction ceremony.

Enshrinees do not go into the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a member of a certain team. Rather, all of an inductee's affiliations are listed equally.[7] While the Baseball Hall of Fame plaques generally depict each of their inductees wearing a particular club's cap (with a few exceptions, such as Catfish Hunter), the bust sculptures of each Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee make no reference to any specific team. In addition to the bust that goes on permanent display at the Hall of Fame, inductees receive a distinctive gold jacket and previous inductees nearly always wear theirs when participating at new inductee ceremonies.

Previous induction ceremonies were held during the day (Sunday from 1999-2005, Saturday in 2006), situated on the steps of the Hall of Fame building. Starting in 2002, the ceremony was moved to Fawcett Stadium, and, beginning in 2007, held Saturday night.[8]

Criticisms and controversies

The Pro Football Hall of Fame uses only media representatives to select inductees. This, and its policy of inducting only a maximum of seven players a year (six in certain years past), with a current maximum of two "senior" candidates and five "non-seniors," has been criticized by sports columnists, former players, and football fans. These folks would like to see such solutions as expanding the number of selectors, rotating panel members on and off the selection committee, and allowing former players to participate in the voting. The small number of candidates elected each year has helped foster what some perceive as an inequality of representation at certain positions or in certain categories of player, with defensive players in general and defensive backs and outside linebackers in particular, special teams players, wide receivers, deserving players who mainly played on bad teams, and those from the "seniors" category getting short shrift.

The hall has also recently been the object of complaints by retired players from both the NFL and AFL, who claim that the Hall has not helped injured, disabled and mentally distressed retirees, including numerous members of the Hall of Fame, to obtain a reasonable care and retirement package from the NFL and the players' union, the NFLPA.

NFL Hall of Fame?

The fact that Billy Shaw is the only player inductee to have never played in the NFL causes some to call the hall the "NFL Hall of Fame". When the hall was formed in 1963, the AFL and NFL were locked in a fight for players and fans. There were two leagues, but the selectors of the "Pro Football" Hall of Fame represented only NFL teams. After the leagues merged in 1970, selectors were added from the AFL cities. However, subsequent votes involved only 10 selectors from AFL cities versus 16 from old-line NFL cities. Some of these very NFL selectors had boasted during the "football wars" that they had never watched an AFL game. This bias was reflected when some AFL stars like Johnny Robinson, Otis Taylor, and others were excluded. While many of these oversights have been corrected over the years, Robinson, Taylor, and other arguably deserving contemporaries still have not been inducted.

On the other hand, the hall does have a section dedicated to other pro football leagues now defunct such as the World Football League, United States Football League, and the All-America Football Conference. Although the latter did have three teams join the NFL in 1950 with two still existing, the NFL did not absorb the AAFC as it would with the AFL two decades later.

The selectors have also been criticized for their unwillingness to acknowledge Canadian Football League (CFL) experience as a factor in qualifying potential inductees. For example, Cookie Gilchrist's six straight CFL All-Star selections (followed by four consecutive AFL All-Star picks) appear to bear no weight on his consideration. The most commonly cited reason for this is because there is already a Canadian Football Hall of Fame for that purpose. This, of course, puts players who played for a shorter time in both leagues, and had success in both (such as Gilchrist and Doug Flutie), at a significant disadvantage, and only one player is in both Halls: Warren Moon. (Coach Bud Grant is also in both Halls).


See also


External links

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