So if you follow The Brown Girl with Long Hair on Facebook, you'll know that Scott and I escaped for yet another much-needed Mommy and Daddy Night out, this time to The Henry Ford Museum for a private reception to celebrate the arrival of the NFL's Gridiron Glory Exhibit, which showcases the best of the Pro Football Hall of Fame (located in Canton, Ohio).
And in true NFL fashion, the event didn't disappoint.
Here's who was honored, what I ate, and what you can expect to see should you visit the Gridiron Glory Exhibit, which will be holding court at The Henry Ford Museum until January 4, 2015 before it heads to Phoenix, Arizona...
Here Scott and I are with the evening's honoree, former Detroit Lions tight end and NFL Hall of Fame member Charlie Sanders. Before we were personally escorted through the exhibit by an NFL historian, Mr. Sanders participated in a Q&A session with the audience, which I found to be enlightening, unabashedly real, and, at times, tear-inducing. Here are some the things that I heard from Mr. Sanders that night that I couldn't wait to share with all of you:
- Although Mr. Sander's mother died when he was only two, he said that because he had had such a wonderful support system in the form of other family members, he really didn't feel the void left by his mother's absence until he was much older. Still, he would hear athletes on the radio or television say, "Hi, Mom," and he longed to be in the position to do the same. So when he was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame, he ended his speech with, "Hi, Mom." There wasn't a dry eye in the house. Mr. Sanders says that he still watches that speech every month, but when he gets to that part, he can't stomach watching it and has to turn it off. Below are three of Mr. Sander's best quotes from the Q&A:
- "Your mind can be your greatest asset...or your greatest liability."
- "I didn't engage in trash talk on the field. No, I was all about conserving my energy."
- "People say all the time that football is a game. No, checkers is a game." (Implying that football is far more brutal.) "But I feel blessed to have played it."
First things first, and I'm going to keep it real, here: Frankly, one of the highlights of the evening for me was the opportunity to have a little wine in place of whine. But when I arrived at the bar, I went for the gusto. The entire evening, I sipped the smoothest gin and tonic this side of the Mississippi (light on the ice; extra lime, please) . #AdultBeverageAlert:
And then there was the food, which was laid out in a way which begged to be photographed. At the risk of looking like a freak tourist, I neglected to take a photo of the entire display. But I did sneak a pic of the Caprese salad (left) and my plate which contained two succulent crab cakes, the salad, and steamed zucchini. I know, it doesn't look like much. Because it wasn't. I was trying to practice some restraint:
But the restraint went to you-know-where when I saw this -- Fresh, piping hot cobbler:
So then I had to do this:
What? You didn't think I was going to pass up fresh, made-from-scratch mixed berry cobbler with FRESH whipped cream...did you? I'll tell you what: I even licked the glass. Screw the diet. It was worth it.
Now, should you visit the Gridiron Glory Exhibit, unfortunately, there won't be an open bar, waiters serving crab cakes on a silver platter, or mixed berry cobbler.
There is still plenty of reasons to check this exhibit out. After all, it contains hundreds of groundbreaking artifacts from the Pro Football Hall of Fame and also affords patrons an opportunity to get up close and personal with the game of football. You'll have a chance to slip on a helmet rigged up with coach-to-player communication, test your vertical leaping ability, step inside the Champions Theater and see hard-hitting new material from NFL Films, and more.
Here are three extremely fascinating things that I deem worth the price of admission:
- The accounting ledger below is from a game played on November 12, 1892 in Pittsburgh and is the first documented proof that a player was paid to play football. Note the line item that shows William "Pudge" Heffelfinger was paid $500 to play in the game. The ledger, which is considered "Football's Birth Certificate," is among the most significant documents in the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s vast collection:
- Any die-hard fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers knows about The Immaculate Reception, which was one of the most famous plays in the history of American football. .(The play's name is a pun derived from the Immaculate Conception, a dogma in the Roman Catholic Church.) It all went down during the AFC divisional playoff game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Oakland Raiders at Pittsburgh on December 23, 1972. With the Steelers trailing in the last 30 seconds of the game, Pittsburgh quarterback Terry Bradshaw threw a pass to John Fuqua, who was immediately hit and lost possession of the ball. As the ball fell towards the ground, Steelers fullback Franco Harris scooped it up and ran for a game-winning touchdown. But here's what many may not know: Right before The Immaculate Reception, the owner of the Steelers left the press box and headed down to the locker room to console his team -- he thought they had lost! But when he had arrived, he saw all the Steelers players celebrating because they had won the game -- and were Super Bowl bound! The owner's son had the good insight to remove the elevator panel of the elevator his father used to travel down to the locker room while The Immaculate Conception was going on...and that elevator panel is on display during this exhibit.
- Also on display are various pieces of memorabilia from the Columbus Panhandles (pictured below), one of the first chartered teams of the NFL:
So there you have it. A peek inside the NFL's Gridiron Glory Exhibit, which showcases the best of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Check your local museums because the exhibit may be coming to a city near you!