Joe Namath was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1985. Since then, he has returned to Canton for only a handful of visits, but he'll be there Saturday for another special day in the history of the Hall.
The Jets' legend will participate in a ribbon-cutting ceremony to mark the grand re-opening of the renovated Hall of Fame. The Hall completed a $27 million expansion and renovation project, the largest in the Hall of Fame's 50-year history. Hence, the name: "Future 50."
The new look includes 37,000 square feet of renovated space within the vastly expanded Hall of Fame. The renovation includes dramatic new exhibition galleries, a new store and an upgraded artifact-collection storage space with state-of-the-art environmental control systems.
The most visible and dramatic change within the Hall are the new exhibition galleries that fill two levels of the Hall of Fame’s original iconic rotunda. Interactive displays, NFL Films footage and one-of-a-kind artifacts capture the essence of pro football, past and present.
"They've really come a long way, growing, with the buildings, adding so much more history and interesting points," said Namath, who still was attending Alabama when the Hall of Fame opened in 1963. "It's mind boggling."
Asked if there's a new Namath wing, Broadway Joe laughed.
"If they're going to build any wings, I think they'll have to start with the guys earlier on," he said. "I still think Sammy Baugh and the cats that go way back, they paved the way. To me, that's the way I thought about the AFL. Those guys that started in 1960 and hung in there until I became a part of it, until the AFL was able to win those last two Super Bowls ... that carries a lot of weight that still doesn't fade."
This year's Hall of Fame class includes former Jets and Giants coach Bill Parcells.