The Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2010 – Russ Grimm, Rickey Jackson, Dick LeBeau, Floyd Little, John Randle, Jerry Rice, and Emmitt Smith – will be surrounded by greatness on Saturday August 7, in Canton, Ohio when they are formally enshrined as the Hall of Fame's newest members. More than 80 Hall of Famers will also be on stage to salute the 2010 Class of Enshrinees.
Joining the Class of 2010 on stage will be such pro football luminaries as Dan Marino, Joe Montana, Eric Dickerson, Franco Harris, Lynn Swann, Howie Long, Troy Aikman, Gale Sayers, Steve Young, Marcus Allen, Michael Irvin and dozens more.
"I'm just happy to be a part of the tradition," proclaims Hall of Fame safety Ken Houston who has returned to Canton every year since 1986 when he was enshrined. A complete list of returning Hall of Famers is available online at Profootballhof.com (also see list below).
As for Rice, he is anxiously anticipating what will surely be an emotional time for the game's all-time leading receiver. "I am so honored to get ready to embark on something that I never, never really thought about...This is a very elite group of guys, so I'm very honored and also humbled.
"I have to pinch myself because this small boy from B.L. Moor High School goes off to college at Mississippi Valley State University, gets a chance to play in San Francisco for the greatest owner, Eddie DeBartolo and the greatest coach, Bill Walsh and the greatest team the San Francisco 49ers, and now to get ready to go into another class. I'm excited, I'm nervous. I'm just trying to get my speech down right now so I can thank all the people who have inspired me on the football field.
"Just talking to all the older guys that are in the Hall, it's going to be the experience of a lifetime. But there are a lot of obligations out there. I'm looking forward to it. I'm going to try to enjoy it. It should be exciting."
The ceremony, televised by both ESPN and NFL Network starting a 7 p.m. EDT, will also have a new look this year with several enhancements to the stage and program. The new-look stage will include a massive 32-foot-wide on-stage LED video screen backdrop and 16-foot tall game action photo murals of each enshrinee. As a part of streamlining efforts, presenters' speeches will be featured in prerecorded videos.
Enshrinement Ceremony tickets are still available. Sideline tickets ($30) may be purchased online at Profootballhof.com; or by calling (800)-913-9788. Tickets will also be available at the Hall of Fame Will Call Ticket Office on the day of the Enshrinement.
Transcripts of the often emotional speeches will be posted on Profootballhof.com soon after the completion of each enshrinee's speech. The Pro Football Hall of Fame's website, Profootballhof.com, contains vast coverage of the careers of the seven new Hall of Fame members. The website also has a special section devoted to the 2010 Enshrinement Festival that includes everything from parking information, schedule of events and other pertinent news on the weekend's festivities.
Although the Enshrinement Ceremony is the focal point of the Enshrinement Festival, there are several other exciting and important events, not the least of which is the annual Enshrinees Dinner that is held the night before the Enshrinement Ceremony. It is at this gala event that the Class of 2010 will be presented their Pro Football Hall of Fame Gold Jacket.
Rounding out the 10-day Hall of Fame Enshrinement Festival, are two events on Sunday, August 8. The first is the Enshrinees GameDay Roundtable. Here the Class of 2010 will sit center stage and lead the sell-out crowd down memory lane as they reminisce about their glory days on the football field, the family and friends who helped them along the way, and the emotions of the Enshrinement ceremony which will have been held less than 24 hours earlier.
The final event of the Enshrinement Festival schedule is the annual Pro Football Hall of Fame Game, this year featuring the Cincinnati Bengals and the Dallas Cowboys. The sold out game kicks off at 8 PM and is televised on NBC's Sunday Night Football. Since the first Hall of Fame Game in 1962, 117 participants have gone on to Hall of Fame election.
Bengals quarterback Carson Palmersummarized what the game means to him. "The whole weekend means so much to those great players who are getting inducted. It's a celebration of their careers, and we get to play a part this year. Our part is to put on a great show on the field as a way of paying homage to them. I hope our whole team feels that way."
Cowboys quarterback Tony Romoalso see's playing in the Hall of Fame Game and visiting the Hall of Fame as a special opportunity. "I'm excited," he stated. "I love the tradition and history of the game, and we're pretty lucky as players to be a part of something so special and some of the people who have come before us. It's going to be fun to go in there. For me, I read a lot about it and love to hear what some personalities and people have to say about it. So it'll be really fun to get in there and read and see a lot of the things."
Fans can interact with the Hall of Fame and fellow football fans through the Hall's Facebookpage (www.Facebook.com/ProFootballHOF). Fans can also follow conversations regarding the Class of 2010 and the Enshrinement Festival events by tagging their Twitter posts with #HOF10.
List of Hall of Fame members attending the 2010 Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Festival.
John Henry Johnson
Bob St. Clair
Ralph Wilson, Jr.