Last week culminated an 11 month journey for me that ended with my first marathon at the Pro Football Hall of Fame (HOF). I’m from Ohio and I’ve been to the HOF a couple of times. Living in the South, this trip meant more. What makes it cool is every year they alter the exhibits. For example, the curators add more pieces as significant events in the NFL season unfold. However, the mainstays remain (the busts of the HOF players/coaches/contributors and Super Bowl rings). Any diehard Raiders fan needs to go.
If you’ve never been, you should make it a Bucket List item to do soon! As a Raiders fan, the busts for the HOF guys drew me in. The recent additions like Kenny Stabler and Ray Guy stole the show. Of course, John Madden’s bust needed viewing too. While taking pictures, I found myself asking ‘who is MY favorite Raiders HOF?’ With that said, I honestly couldn’t narrow it down.
I enjoyed Marcus Allen during his time at USC. After winning theHeisman and entering the NFL, his running style drew me in. I didn’t really follow any particular team at that point. My dad was/is a diehard Cleveland Browns fan, but he never pushed that on me or my brothers. On the other hand, like I require my wife and kids to be Raiders fans (good family values). So, when Marcus entered the NFL, I followed the team that drafted him. Seeing Marcus Allen in the Super Bowl versus Washington stays as one of the greatest Raiders game in history.
When he cut back on that 72 yard touchdown run, he announced his arrival. I was a huge Marcus Allen fan. Although he Raiders career ended under awful circumstances, he rose to fame in Silver and Black. Marcus entered Canton as a Raider. Mending fences with the organization went far to cement his legacy.
As mentioned, I could not name my favorite Raiders HOF. Immediately after his drafting, Tim Brown emerged as a fast favorite. He epitomized what a blue collar worker was at the WR position. Brown would run the 9 route and roast a CB. Or, he could run a quick slant to move the chains. He did whatever the team needed. In addition, he returned punts and kicks. Despite playing at an All-Pro level at WR, he stepped up to be whatever the team needed.
Like Allen in the Super Bowl, I finally got a chance to see Tim at least make it to a Super Bowl. Due to the score of that game, it will not be mentioned. Brown was a vocal leader of men, speaking up for what he believed in. I always respected that. That also worked to his detriment. When he retired he was top three in two of the top three categories for a receiver. Yet, he was bypassed for many years for HOF induction. Finally, in 2012, Canton called.
In the long run, there is no reason to not visit Canton. The Hall of Fame tells the story of Raiders past. Someday, Woodson and Janikowski will grab that gold jacket as well.