Take an inside look at a memorable night as Pat Bowlen and Champ Bailey were enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday.
The first week of the 2019 NFL season has ended, with the Denver Broncos getting a 14-10 win in the Hall of Fame game.
And of course, far bigger than that, late owner Pat Bowlen and 12-time Pro Bowl cornerback Champ Bailey have been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Both these facts have been well detailed and documented on this website, but my impressions are personal.
Being here in Canton, for perhaps the 10th time, I have a few observations about how great this is and how big it has become. You almost have to be here for the weekend to realize how big it has gotten.
I can remember when the Gold Jacket dinner had perhaps 500 in attendance, not the 5,000-plus Friday night.
Back in the day, before 1977, the Hall of Fame was like a distant dream for those in Denver, as the Broncos has never before been in the playoffs.
Then that changed, then John Elway came, and the team in orange from the forgotten time zone made the entire NFL take notice.
Now we have seven inductees considered to be primary Broncos by the Hall, four more listed as secondary Broncos. And certainly there are more to come.
Canton itself has grown and changed, but the same excitement, civic pride and enthusiasm are displayed to visitors in the week when Canton is once again center of the football universe.
Back when the NFL began on Sept. 17, 1920, with George Halas sitting on the running board of a Hupmobile at the Ralph Hays dealership, no one could have envisioned this.
Of course, there was no television, so one could not imagine that a country full of football fans would watch games, much less Hall of Fame induction ceremonies live from all over the map.
As recently as 30 years ago, the inductions were done on the front steps of the Hall, with fans sitting on blankets or lawn chairs on the front grass of the Hall.
Now there are 20,000 plus fans in a sold out stadium watching this great event.
The Hall itself? It’s spectacular, as it always has been, but the recent and continuous expansions have incorporated every element of modern technology.
It is perhaps the most state-of-the-art sports museum in the country.
Not everyone can make it here, but if one is ever near Canton, I highly recommend it.
I was honored to have been asked to write an article for this week’s program, and I did so on Fred Gehrke — the first Bronco honored by the Hall.
And this is now the 100th year of the NFL and the 60th anniversary of the Broncos, with Champ and our beloved Pat Bowlen being inducted.
Praise abounds for Mr. B, and you certainly have seen much of it.
On this celebratory weekend I think Mr. B would say it is all about Champ and the other players, not about him, never about him.
But for a rare instance, he would be wrong.
Pat always said of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, “That is where legends go.”
He is a legend, and so too has he taken his place in the Hall.
The NFL, Canton, Champ, Pat Bowlen — each matches the other in the tapestry of American sport.
This was a richly satisfying football weekend for Denver Broncos fans and made for a most-fitting kickoff to the 100th season of the NFL.