CANTON, Ohio (WJW) — The 2022 Pro Football Hall of Fame week is underway in Canton, welcoming some of the greatest ever to play the game of football and thousands of their greatest fans.
For the 22nd year, the enshrinement week festivities officially kicked off early Wednesday with more than 3,000 kids standing shoulder to shoulder passing a football over a three mile trek from the place where professional football started on Sept. 17, 1920 to the steps of the hall of fame.
“Twenty years ago, I said it will never last. Who is going to want to do that? Well, it turns out 3,300 kids want to do it,” said Rich Derosiers of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Called the “First Pass,” the event formally kicked off the 103rd season of NFL football. Also this week, the city of Canton unveiled a new statue commemorating the legacy of Cleveland Browns Hall of Famer Marion Montley.
The season officially kicked off Thursday evening as the Las Vegas Raiders beat the Jacksonville Jaguars 27-11 in the Hall of Fame Game in Tom Benson Stadium.
Throughout the week, the Hall of Fame campus will continue hosting a fun fest, which is a free, family-friendly collection of games and activities.
Hall of fame and pro football merchandise is available at tents on the property including autographed helmets and memorabilia from Hunt Auctions.
“You have the Superbowl, you have the draft and you have the football Hall of Fame induction. Those are sort of the three main football events of the year other than the regular season,” said Gary Reibsane of Hunt Auctions. “I get excited when I see a kid say, ‘Wow, is that Jim Brown?’ Because it shows that their dad or somebody gave them a history lesson because they recognize Jim Brown. A lot of the kids nowadays, they know the modern guys but they don’t have the appreciation for the older guys so I get excited when they do.”
On Friday, returning hall of famers gathered at Centennial Park in Canton for a group photo opportunity. They included 2013 hall of fame enshrinee Dave Robinson, now an Akron resident who played 10 seasons with the Green Bay Packers and spent years as a Hall of Fame Board Member before his enshrinement.
“I have been doing this since 1988, you never get tired of it. It’s always new and fresh, it’s a new class and I just love the hall,” Robinson told FOX 8 on Tuesday.
Saturday started with the Grand Parade winding its way through the streets of Canton at 8 a.m., followed by the enshrinement ceremony at Tom Benson Stadium, which has been moved to noon this year.
An autograph session with returning hall of famers will take place Saturday from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.
The stadium will host the ‘Concert for Legends’ featuring Journey, which kicks off at 8 p.m. Saturday.
“No, it never gets old for so many reasons. You realize and appreciate that there are people coming here for the very first time and maybe the only time,” said Derosiers.
Find out more about the week’s activities right here.