Little Bits of History

Not Soccer

Posted in History by patriciahysell on September 7, 2011

Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio

September 7, 1963: The Pro Football Hall of Fame opens in Canton, Ohio. The Hall of Fame is for American football players from the National Football League (NFL). All but one inductee has played for the NFL at some time in his career. Buffalo Bills’ Billy Shaw played only for the American Football League, however the two leagues merged into one in 1970.

American pro football began on November 12, 1892 when William (Pudge) Heffelfinger was paid $500 in cash to play with the Allegheny Athletic Association (AAA). This was seen as an illegal move by the opposing team, the Pittsburgh Athletic Club. No proof of this misdeed was found at the time. That proof arrived 80 years later when the Hall of Fame received and then displayed the document – an expense account sheet from the AAA with the listing of the money spent.

The Hall of Fame came to Canton for three reasons. First, it is the home of the American Professional Football Association that would become the NFL and which was founded here on September 17, 1920. Second, the city was home of the Canton Bulldogs, the first two-time champion of the NFL in 1922 and 1923. Jim Thorpe, a famous all around athlete, played for The Bulldogs. And lastly, the city and its citizens launched a program to attract the building of the Hall of Fame and to place it in their city.

Inductees are selected by a 40-person Board of Selections. There were 17 players enshrined at the opening of the museum. Today, three to six new members are inducted each year. The panel selects 17 candidates from a list of retired players and coaches, as well as managers or owners. From that list the new members are selected around the time when the Super Bowl is played (end of January or beginning of February). The men are officially inducted into the Hall of Fame in August. There are currently 267 players enshrined. Players are not associated with a particular team. Instead, all inductees have all teams they were associated with listed with their names. The museum draws close to 200,000 visitors annually.

“Let’s face it, you have to have a slightly recessive gene that has a little something to do with the brain to go out on the football field and beat your head against other human beings on a daily basis.” – Tim Green

“At the base of it was the urge, if you wanted to play football, to knock someone down, that was what the sport was all about, the will to win closely linked with contact.” – George Plimpton

“I have seen women walk right past a TV set with a football game on and – this always amazes me – not stop to watch, even if the TV is showing replays of what we call a ‘good hit,’ which is a tackle that causes at least one major internal organ to actually fly out of a player’s body.” – Dave Barry

“Trying to maintain order during a legalized gang brawl involving 80 toughs with a little whistle, a hanky and a ton of prayer.” – Anonymous referee, explaining his job

Also on this day:
Ann and Andy – In 1915, a patent is granted for the making of a rag doll.
She’s Gone – In 1911, Guillaume Apollinaire was arrested for an art theft.