Hall of Fame Stories That Will Make You Cry

The Pro Football Hall of Fame is referred to as “The Most Inspiring Place on Earth” by many people.  Although this may be an audacious and bold statement, for many, it’s dead accurate.  The Hall of Fame stories are numerous.

This past weekend we were supposed to see new members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame unveil their busts and officially be inducted into the Hall.

Unfortunately, the Hall had to cancel the events for this weekend, due to the COVID pandemic. We will have to wait until next year. David Baker promises we will have “Twice the fun in 21.”

The past couple of years I went to the Hall of Fame with press passes to experience the weekend from a totally different perspective.  Little did I know, this week’s guest was singing his own Swan Song as the Mr. Everything at the Pro Football Hall of Fame.  Joe Horrigan retired on June 1st, 2019, which was 42 years after he first started working for the Hall.

We get into his story in depth in the podcast interview, including Hall of Fame stories you can’t get anywhere else.  Below I share my personal experience with the Hall of Fame.  

This week’s sponsor is Pro Football Researcher’s Association.  You can learn more about becoming a member here.

Part 1 - Joe Horrigan Interview

Part 2 - Joe Horrigan Interview

Joe started at the Pro Football Hall of Fame on June 1st, 1977 and ended his 42-year career on June 1st, 2019. Throughout his career, he wore pretty much every hat you could think of.  He’s also an author – The Pro Football Hall of Fame’s 50th Anniversary and NFL Century: The One-Hundred-Year Rise of America’s Greatest Sports League

Joe’s full bio with his publisher here.

Joe Horrigan on Pro Football Hall of Fame sign for retirement
Photo Credit: Joe Ziemba

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    My Hall of Fame Press Pass Experience

    The past couple of years I went to the Hall of Fame with press passes to experience the weekend from a totally different perspective. That’s me the first year so proud as could be to have a press pass and be sitting in the same room where that afternoon I would shake hands with my favorite non-Detroit Lions player of all-time (at least watching directly) – Ray Lewis

    Arnie Chapman with Pro Football Hall of Fame press pass 2018
    Photo by Arnie Chapman

    Here’s a photo of me last year asking Gil Brand a few questions, which I just now realized I don’t know if I’ve ever shared that recording (or any from the pressers) on the show.

    The Football History Dude interviewing Gil Brandt at 2019 Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement
    Photo courtesy: Arnie Chapman

    These are some way cool experiences, but maybe the best part of these weekends had nothing to do with the Hall of Fame itself. I would ask visitors of the weekend their favorite football moments of all-time, to be played on the show. 

    You can go here to share your personal favorite football moment.

    It’s something else watching people relive their favorite moments, I tell you what. Last year one really stuck in my mind. Howie Assa told a heartbreaking story of being a Jets fan from the day he met Broadway Joe on the sidelines and received an autographed football from him. But then, tragedy struck later down the road. You’ll have to listen to the episode to find out what happened. There’s me talking to Howie.

    The Football History dude interviewing Howie Assa at the Pro Football Hall of Fame
    Photo Courtesy: Arnie Chapman

    When he told this story he broke down, which you’ll hear in the moment on the show. I shared this moment with the Jet’s organization, wondering if they would be able to help him out with anything. They pulled through, sending him an autographed Joe Namath football. Talk about a great story. Howie sent me some photos of his autographed football to share.

    Howie Assa holding his autographed Joe Namath football
    Photo courtesy: Howie Assa
    Press Pass Collectibles

    I hope you can tell by now how amazed I am at the passion people have for their team, players, and league. I’ve been a lifelong Detroit Lions fan, as you know if you’ve ever listened to the show. It’s really only been the past couple of years I’ve really dug into the Pro Football Hall of Fame process and really started to appreciate the past 100 years of the league.​

    There have been some great episodes covering the Hall of Fame, including the past 2 weeks with Clark Judge, a voter for the league.  This week and next week we get to hear from Joe Horrigan, the man they call “MR. PRO FOOTBALL HALL OF FAME.” If you are not subscribed (it’s free) to the show, I recommend you…..

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