“IF YOU CAN BELIEVE IT, THE MIND CAN ACHIEVE IT.”
Day 1 – By Jerome
- Updated: August 7, 2015
Today was my first day in Canton, Ohio. It started off with the First Ball ceremony where we met the mayor of Canton, William J. Healy II along with Pro Football Hall of Famers Mike Haynes and Joe DeLamielleure . This ceremony was the unveiling and passing of a golden ball to commemorate the 50th Super Bowl that will occur this season. Reuben and I were the first to pass on the ball to children who then sent the ball on a three mile journey to the steps of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Along the way the ball was dropped, kicked, and almost dropped into a lake several times. But the ceremony was not about the ball, but about the community and how they are the reason why Canton, Ohio is the birthplace of football.
After the 3 mile hand off we arrived at the Pro Football Hall of Fame where we were greeted by an applauding crowd and some outrageous super fans. When we first walked into the Hall of Fame Dr. Cooper led us into a room and asked us if we knew who Jim Thorpe was and if we did not then we could not leave the room before we knew about him. Jim Thorpe was the first president of the American Professional Football Association which would later become the NFL. But Thorpe was also a very accomplished athlete playing professional football, baseball, and also won several Olympic gold medals. As we continued to explore we saw a Lombardi Trophy, every Bronze bust of those inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Super Bowl Rings, as well as famous helmets, uniforms, and record setting footballs. One of the most awe inspiring moments was when I saw the old cleats. These cleats looked heavy and this made me realize just how special these Hall of Famers are. They accomplished their records, made big plays, and ran extremely fast in a cleat that would weigh most athletes down.
The final event for the day was the golden jacket ceremony for the class of 2015. The inductees were Jerome Bettis, Tim Brown, Charles Haley, Bill Polian, Junior Seau, Will Shields, Mick Tinglelhoff, and Ron Wolf. Watching the ceremony was a great experience. Seeing how emotional the players and coaches got for being recognized for their accomplishments was amazing. Some leapt for joy, others stay calm and collective, while others took a selfie. Any way that the players celebrated was a little insight to their personality and character. I felt extremely blessed to be there. At the event I got to meet my mentor Ron Yary, who played for the Vikings as an Offensive Tackle and was the first offensive tackle to go first overall draft pick ever. The highlights of the night included meeting Pro Football Hall of Famers especially Troy Aikman as well as just talking to Ron Yary and having good company with some exceptional football players.