Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky
CANTON, Ohio -- Poked around the jam-packed Pro Football Hall of Fame this afternoon.
Some thoughts from a first-timer:
Chuck Such, a sportswriter at the Canton Repository, wrote an article headlined: "Pro Football Needs a Hall of Fame and Logical Site is Here" on Dec. 6, 1959. The ground breaking was on Aug. 11, 1962 and it opened Sept. 7, 1963. I don't know just how much influence he had, but there isn't a sportswriter alive who wouldn't like his name connected to such a thing in such a way.
I went to say hello to the bronze busts of Mike Munchak and Bruce Matthews, the two Hall of Famers I've covered. Munchak (class of 2001) is the Titans offensive line coach, Matthews (class of 2007) retired and moved back to Texas after finishing his distinguished career in Nashville. They didn't make the trip this weekend. The two are best friends and, coincidentally, are positioned the highest among the busts of their respective classes. I can't help but picture them, once the place is closed, turning to talk family and football from maybe 15 feet apart.
Mark, a good story-telling volunteer, told a great one that's probably widely known but was new to me. Alan Page grew up right here and actually had a summer job helping build the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Since 1988 he's been a member of it too.
A name I should have known but didn't: Burl Toler was the first African-American official. He was a field judge from 1965-89.
In a mini-theater, a short video packed with 2007 highlights concludes with beautiful images from the Giants' win over the Patriots in the Super Bowl. As a little boy in a Jason Campbell jersey walked away, he turned and said to his dad: "That just never gets old. Never, ever, ever, ever."
In the NFL "Mall" of Fame where all kinds of collectibles were on sale, an encased Oilers helmet signed by Hall of Famers Warren Moon and Earl Campbell had a $789 price tag. A Cowboys helmet signed by Roger Staubach with "SB VI MVP" was $6 more. Meanwhile there was a "Brad Johnson Blowout." Sorry Brad, but "Mounted Memories" was looking to unload you and quick. The sign near an autographed mini-helmet had prices of $89 and $39 crossed out, with a new price of $29. "The blank helmet sells for that much," another sign announced.
The teams have gone through early warm-ups. Kickoff for Colts-Skins is a little over an hour away.