The Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, is just an hour drive from Avalon Lakes and about four hours from Buffalo. It’s a must-do, if you have the time.
In fact, make the time. Once you are there, you won’t want to leave. There is so much to explore.
It’s been about 25 years since my last visit to this football lover’s shrine and it’s grown immensely. From the exhibit of helmets through the years to the bronze bust room, the Pro Football Hall of Fame chronicles the long and storied history of the game.
Some of my favorite exhibits were:
• "A Game for Life" was the best. This spectacular cutting-edge, multisensory immersive theater including holographic representations of Hall of Fame legends Joe Namath, George Halas and Vince Lombardi, recently opened. "A Game for Life" puts you in a locker room and the holographic version of Namath looks so real you would swear he was 15 feet away from you in person. Jim Kelly is among the Hall of Famers showcased.
• The Hunt/Casterline Pro Football Hall of Fame Card Collection, which opened in July. It is the highest graded and most valuable football card collection in the world. The oldest card dates to 1888. It’s an incredible collection. For someone who collected football cards in the late 1960s, this exhibit reconnected me to my youth.
• The Super Bowl theater with its up-close look at the road to the Super Bowl. Showing now is last year’s game that saw the New England Patriots rally to beat the Atlanta Falcons in overtime. The Hall’s Super Bowl Theater is a state-of-the-art auditorium that features a 40-plus foot screen and 15-channel surround sound that allows guests to feel the thunderous, knockout hits through their bodies.
Interactive exhibits are one of the Hall’s calling cards. They include putting on pair of shoulder pads and a helmet and listening to a play call that an NFL quarterback would hear from the coaches and short videos of the greatest players, teams and moments in NFL history. You could spend days here watching videos and reading information about pro football.
Pete Fierle, who grew up in East Aurora and is now the Hall’s chief of staff and vice president of communications, said the Hall is great place to visit for Bills fans.
"The Pro Football Hall of Fame represents the very best about the game and the Bills’ contribution to the game’s history is immeasurable," he said. "The stories of many Bills players, including the 10 who’ve earned a bronzed bust in Canton, are shared throughout the Hall."
Admission is $25 for adults, $21 for ages 65 and over and $18 for children ages 6-12 (under 6 is free). For details, go to www.profootballhof.com or call 330-456-8207.