Current enshrinees occupy special space at Pro Football Hall of Fame
If the giant photos of this year’s class of Pro Football Hall of Fame enshrinees displayed at the Hall could hear, they would listen all day to the emotional acceptance speeches from past decades.
The gallery set aside for the Class of 2013 — Larry Allen, Cris Carter, Curly Culp, Warren Sapp, Dave Robinson, Bill Parcells and Jonathan Ogden — is across a hallway from the gallery where the busts of past enshrinees are displayed. A video screen provides audio for the speeches of such luminaries of the sport as Joe Namath, Mike Ditka, Lawrence Taylor, Chuck Noll, Bill Walsh and Larry Csonka.
Those perusing the memorabilia of players who will be enshrined on Aug. 3 might simultaneously listen to the faltering voices of John Elway when he speaks of his father and Alan Page while he remembers his mother. Or they might hear the child-like enthusiasm of Terry Bradshaw as he recalls teammates who helped him achieve greatness in his career.
The artifacts exhibited for current enshrinees speak to their own greatness.
Larry Allen’s jersey and shoulder pads he wore as a rookie in 1994, as well as a game ball given to him after a game on Dec. 10, 2000, during which the Cowboys beat the Washington Redskins 32-13, are displayed near text of his staggering statistics.
Posts at the wide entrance of the Class of 2013 gallery are alternately colored the red of the National Football League’s American Football Conference and the blue of its National Football Conference.
But, the purple of the Minnesota Vikings is the dominant color for enshrinee Cris Carter, a wide receiver for the Vikings most of his career.
Carter broke the single-season record for receptions in December of ’94, said text in his display. He finished with 122 catches for 1,256 yards and seven touchdowns — then matched his catches the next year while accumulating 1,371 yards and scoring a league-leading 17 touchdowns.
The helmet he wore in one of his six Pro Bowl appearances and the trophy he won for being defensive player of the year are among the memorabilia of enshrinee Curly Culp, who played for the Kansas City Chiefs, Houston Oilers and Detroit Lions.
Artifacts representing the career of Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive tackle Warren Sapp include the home and away jerseys Sapp wore during the 1996 season, when he recorded a career-best 16.5 sacks. Also celebrated in the display — a Sports Illustrated cover is devoted to the achievement — is the Super Bowl victory Sapp helped Tampa Bay win in 2002.
OLD STARS NEW FAME
Dave Robinson played for the Green Bay Packers from 1963 to 1972 and for the Washington Redskins in 1973-74. He helped the Packers win three straight championships in the 1960s. One of his artifacts, a pair of black cleats, are worn, torn and scuffed, with the soles detaching from the leather upper portions of the shoes.
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Jonathan Ogden’s 2004 jersey — the first time Baltimore introduced black jerseys — is displayed with his artifacts in honor of being the first longtime Raven to be elected to the HOF.
Beside the offensive tackle’s exhibit is the display for the final enshrinee, coach Bill Parcells, who guided the New York Giants to a pair of Super Bowl victories. During his 19-season career, Parcells also coached the New England Patriots, the New York Jets and the Dallas Cowboys.
“This guy I’ve heard of,” said a young visitor to the Hall of Fame. “The Tuna,” his father says, referring to Parcells’ nickname.