Evan Kessler Dot Com

The Home of the Brave

Canton Can’t Wait

Posted by evankessler on March 6, 2008

I’m writing this from my apartment in Brooklyn, New York having safely arrived home after my second seven hour drive in three days. To say I’m tired is an understatement, but as I’ve not shared any of the details from my trip, I figured I should do a little spreading of personal anecdotes

Tuesday morning I awoke to the sound of rain pounding against the pavement outside my room at the Red Roof Inn in North Canton, Ohio. It was a perfect day to spend indoors, but rather than sit in my hotel room all day, I jumped in my trusty ’98 Honda Civic and made my way to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The drive to the shrine celebrating my favorite sport took nearly ten whole minutes. It was one of the easiest sets of directions I have ever had to follow. Getting anywhere in the Canton area seemed pretty basic. Most driving instructions started with Get on 77 South, get off the exit, make a left…and you’re there. Just like that, I had made it to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

There Was I

When I arrived I was extremely indecisive about my parking spot. The spot I originally picked seemed too far away from the entrance so I decided to go a whole row closer, but when I got out of the car I noticed that the license plate of the car next to me read CPAHOF, leaving me to believe that I was in a reserved spot for Hall of Fame Employees. I went back in my car and started to drive to another spot, but just before settling in I noticed that I was next to two more cars with “HOF” on their plates. I finally settled on a different spot near a small mound of snow and made a move for the warmth that only being inside or sitting in my car with the heat on could provide. I chose the former.

Once inside I paid for my ticket and it was recommended that I start my tour of the museum with the First Century of Pro Football rotunda. Before ascending the ramp upstairs I was greeted by a bronze statue of Jim Thorpe, legendary athlete, former Canton Bulldog and one of the driving force sbehind the formation of the NFL.

My Name Is Jim Thorpe, Welcome to The Pro Football Hall of Fame

As I began to get acquainted with the early days of the game an entire 6th grade class stormed the premises, barely paying any attention to the artifacts but remarking that the wax likenesses of some of the players like Red Grange were life like. Their teachers seemed to want their students to study but were also seemingly only casually interested. As enamored as I am with the game football, I ‘m not really sure that the history of Pro Football is a proper topic for a class field trip. I wondered if Canton had any natural history or art museums. Though in fairness, the more I looked through the early years of pro football the more I saw that it was centered around the Eastern Ohio, Western Pennsylvania area…so in essence, I guess they were learning about the history of the area they called home.

It took me a good hour or so to get through the First Century, looking at everything from an early helmet used in the 1890’s to the boot used by half-footed Kicker Tom Dempsey to kick his record 63-yard field goal. There was so many fascinating artifacts and so much to read about them. I came out feeling like I learned a ton about why Canton, Ohio made sense for a location for the Hall and about the general history of the league.

Earmuffs + Fake Nose= Helmet

Next it was off to “Pro Football Today” where there was display for each current team along with notes and facts about their history. There were also jersey’s and cleats worn by some of the players from their record breaking moments of 2007. Strangely though, there was no mention in the entire museum save for the gift shop of the Giants recent victory in the Super Bowl, even on their team display. You’d think a shrine to a sport would be up to date on it’s latest champion.

Me Looking Dumb By The Giants Display

Nearby the Giants display, there was a jersey from the Green Bay Packers Quarterback Brett Favre that he had worn while breaking a passing record this year. I was standing in front of this jersey when I heard someone down the hall trumpet that the veteran QB had just announced his retirement making for quite the interesting coincidence.

The Retired One

Also interesting was the inordinate amount of people looking for more information on the Jacksonville Jaguars. It was as if they suddenly sprouted up as the favorite team of middle America. People seemed disappointed that there wasn’t enough Jaguars memorabilia. However, this is certainly justified as the team has only been around since 1995.

From the NFL Today it was into the actual Hall of Fame, an impressive room hosting busts of every inductee since the opening of the museum. I looked for all of the Giants players and some of my other favorites. The John Madden one seemed to be larger than most of the other ones maybe he just has a huge head.

Giants Founder Tim Mara

If Bronze Ditka was playing the Patriots in the Super Bowl, What would be the score?

I continued on through the museum through a history of African Americans in Football and a room boasting artifacts from the induction ceremonies when I finally happened on the Super Bowl room. Not even in the Super Bowl room did they have anything that referenced the Giants victory over the Patriots just one month prior.

Super Bowl Room

From there it was the NFL gameday experience where I sat all alone in a theater seating fifty people. The film they showed brought me from preaseason all the way to the super bowl. However when the movie shifted from preseason to the regualr season the entire theater literally shifted to another screen. I was slightly startled by the initial jerk of the platform, but I calmed down quickly once I realized what was happening.

After my Imax-ish experience it was off to the interactive NFL experience portion where I tested my prowess as a pigskin passer. I thought it would be a more high teck setup to test my QB ability but the pass target looked like something you’d see at a carnival. I expected if I threw a complete pass someone would come out and give me a stuffed bear. However, no one was watching any of the displays, it was a DIY situation with no supervision. I wondered if there was more staff interaction on the weekends.

Fresh off a 4 for 20 passing performance I headed to the QB1 coach display where I failed miserably at guessing what play the Oakland Raiders would pick next on each successive play. Oh well, maybe I’m not as great a strategist as I thought. That pretty much brought my NFL Experience to a close. I got myself a shirt in the gift shop and called it a day, nearly 6 hours after it began, give or take.

From there I went back to my hotel and settled in for the night, going out only for some eats at the Ruby Tuesday’s for a second straight night. This time I ws refreshed to hear the bartender talking about Brett Favre’s retirment and April’s NFL Draft. The people who live in the town that houses the Pro Football Hall of Fame should be football crazy.

This morning I woke up not to the pitter of raindrops but to a blinding white glare of snowfall peering through my window shades. I looked out the window to see my car covered in a thin layer of white. I was initially worried that I wouldn’t be able to leave town, but by 9am the snow had gone to bother another town and I hit the road for home.

Luckily, I didn’t catch up with the precipitation, it had gone further north and my ride was smooth sailing. My trusty honda civic ferried me across the Ohio state line, the entire width of
Northern Pennsylvania, a bit of New Jersey and into Rockland County, New York in the span of nearly seven hours, and bringing my mileage total to just over 960 for the last few days.

Stay tuned…Miami’s next.

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