Mecca. The Wailing Wall. The Vatican. Elvis’s grave. These are holy lands that millions of people make pilgrimage to every year to pray and sing “Hound Dog”. If you consider yourself a follower of these religions and lifestyles, you owe it to yourself to see them once in your life. This past weekend, I met up with Spilly and we made our pilgrimage to the football fan holy land.
The Pro Football Hall of Fame. Well, the NFL hall of fame, really. Canadian Football? Psh, not allowed in AMERICA. Located in beautiful Canton, Ohio. Canton is best known obviously for the burial site of William McKinley. They also had a big mall. Lots of potholes and road construction. The site of a pro football team (The Bulldogs) that lasted about four years and vanished. But the NFL was founded here at a gas station, so here is the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Spilly: I noticed that there were some local murals and artwork that sorta tried to play up the “We’re more than just the Hall of Fame and/or Cleveland’s lower intestine” but come on now, Canton. We all know why we’re here.
Get off the highway and pull into the Hall parking lot. 20 feet to the left of the Hall you have a giant freeway, and the smells of car exhaust and the honking of trucks really brings home the sensation of experiencing football at its finest.
Fawcett Stadium is right behind the Hall. The Hall itself is a large lumpy building with no defined shape, plus a giant fruit juicer on one end.
Spilly: I remember looking at the map trying to figure out if it was any sort of shape. I stared at it intently, until I flipped the map, and there it was, clear as day
Tickets are $24 for adults. Children under 6 get in free because the NFL is trying to recruit youngsters for little league before they are smart enough to realize head trauma might be a thing. The “self guided tour” supposedly takes a little over an hour, to accurately mimic how much time the average NFL game spends on commercial breaks. A kindly portly gentleman who looked like he was once a really good second stringer in college points us up a small ramp to the inside of the Fruit Juicer. On the way up the ramp there is a giant mural of NFL legends. Joe Montana. LT. Mean Joe Green. Peyton Manning. Dan Marino. Anthony Munoz. Ray Lewis. Jerry Rice. Some old farts in the old leather uniforms. I did think the Ray Lewis mural was a touch tasteless.
Spilly: They have balls pre-painting Peyton on there. What happens when it comes out that he’s a nymphomaniac furry casually injecting himself with Papa John’s garlic cups? Who are you going to put there instead? Brady? They probably link up in fursuits after the AFC game every year. Someone think of the children.
After the ramp you enter the interior of the juicer. The room is round, detailing the NFL through the years. There are columns everywhere and the entire layout is confusing. The middle of the room has a statue of Jim Thorpe pulling a Heisman and looking like he has to poop. Lots of old artifacts from historical games. Eventually you figure out you already saw these exhibits and you are lost, and you stumble around blindly till you hit the elevator/stairway up. The second floor is when the NFL stops talking history and goes more into pop culture. That’s where the Tebow jersey is.
Spilly: You sons of bitches had to put him in here, didn’t you? Couldn’t resist. They must have to sweep up the vigil candles and shrine flowers every night. For real though, if you’re a fan of the game, half the stuff you’re reading on the walls you already know. “Did you know that Gilbert Brown was a very, very large man? Don’t believe us? Well, we MOLDED HIS ASS FOR YOU:
It also has an exhibit on the ’72 Dolphins, and John Elway’s horse cereal.
Spilly: I would consume John Elway’s 17 year old cereal with gusto.
It’s also where you can find the greatest film artifact of all time, Howie Long’s FIRESTORM. Yes, this is actually in the Hall of Fame.
Eventually you find the way out and you come across a brightly lit room featuring artifacts concerning the most recent HOF class. For me it was the 2014 class of Strahan, Guy, etc.
Past this is the Busty Hall. This is where you can look at all the bronze busts of the Hall of Famers. Surprisingly, they aren’t behind glass, and if one of the HoF workers isn’t looking, you can fondle them. I won’t say I did, but I won’t say I didn’t.
Spilly: Luckily, I was looking for Broncos, which means I could just skip to the last 10 years of the exhibit
Then you reach the Mementos gallery. Here is a hallway with old artifacts from games, past trophies, helmets, uniforms, balls, Tom Landry’s hat and several videos you can activate and listen to but nobody actually does because come on, just read Wikipedia later.
Spilly: There were two Steeler fans replaying every 1970s play on a big screen there. COME ON GUYS. I KNOW YOU HAVE ALL OF THIS ON DVDS, GIVE SOMEONE ELSE A CHANCE.
After this the Hall cleverly sticks a weird room off to the side, featuring the “Other Leagues”. Let’s call this the “failures room”. (Spilly: Hey wait, there was a big Broncos exhibit there.) They have artifacts from the old AFL before the merger, a single locker worth of WORLD FOOTBALL LEAGUE stuff, and a few details from the USFL league (But only artifacts from players who eventually went to the NFL like Jim Kelly and Steve Young). (Spilly: ACTUALLY THERE WAS A NICE FLOYD LITTLE EXHIBIT AND THE COOL OLD 1960s STRIPED SOCKS DAVE) Also in this room is a bathroom, so the NFL’s trolling is complete as you can only take a dump in a room filled with leagues that the NFL destroyed (Spilly: AND THE BRONCOS, JERK.). Long story short, this room was nothing but failure and anyone with a team featured in here should feel shame.
How patronizing can you get HAHAHA OTHER LEAGUES THAT CHALLENGED US AND FAILED LOL YOU SUCK.
Then you have the Pro Football Today room. In this room is filled with artifacts from current NFL players and games of note. This has nothing to do with hall of fame level play, which you quickly understand by the immediate prominence of a Brian Hoyer jersey right as you enter the room. For his comeback against the Titans, not for laughing at. But that too.
Spilly: Oh Dave! Aren’t you forgetting something? There is a gigantic picture of Eli Manning that the Hall of Fame decided to cover up with a video kiosk:
No Spilly, I would never forget that, because I picked Eli’s nose, too.
After the today room, you have the hall of Super Bowl fellatio. Everything Super Bowl is in this hallway. You can stare at the incredibly dull Lombardi Trophy. You can read up on historic moments. This is actually a cool place, because most of it is recent history and not that stuff from the old farts era.
One of the displays is Bill Belichick’s actual gameplan for stopping the Bills in the Super Bowl.
At the end of the hall of fellatio is a case with every single Super Bowl ring. This was probably the most interesting thing in the hall, at least for me. The Rings are actually much smaller in person than they look in photos, most the size of your average high school ring and far classier than you’d expect, if still a little gaudy. Not all of them though. The Ravens most recent ring is a gigantic lumpy eyesore that could fit over my entire thumb, and the ’03-’04 Pats rings are just as bad.
There There is a theater playing a movie about the Super bowl nearby, but I didn’t go in because I’m sure it’s on youtube already. The theater is also the only place where you can’t take pictures. The stairs at the end drop you into the “interactive exhibit” , which was actually just an Xbox 360 with Madden and a couch. (Spilly: It wasn’t even the latest version of Madden) There is a tiny display dedicated to the fans, a tinier display dedicated to the officials, a display about how great the Patriots are (Spilly: right next to the entrance to the café, so presumably you’re hungry after vomiting in the Pats display) , and a very tiny display dedicated to sports injury research, which was fittingly out of order. I couldn’t find a single mention of the word concussion anywhere.
Then they do the Disney thing and force you into the biggest room in the entire hall: the gift shop. It’s like the NFL catalog come to life. Jerseys, Hats, shot glasses, magnets, foam things, helmets, footballs, hoodies, girl stuff, clearance racks with Sam Bradford Rams jerseys. It’s like the NFL catalog come to life, with all the soullessness that it entails. There are cheap looking wood cutouts of players that are $20. They had cheap team toothbrushes for $8. It’s someone who doesn’t know how to use Ebay’s paradise. I bought a hat and a banner because I’m weak.
All in all, it’s actually not a bad visit. The tour feels somewhat poorly laid out and I wish they had more displays and artifacts, but it’s not a bad experience at all and if you find yourself lost in Canton (after a long bender I would assume) there are worse ways to spend a couple hours.
Like watching Titans-Jaguars on Thursday Night Football.