The historic inductions of Champ Bailey and Pat Bowlen took Mile High Report to Canton, Ohio. Between Thursday and Sunday, I had the tremendous opportunity to take my time to thoughtfully work my way through the museum that is the Professional Football Hall of Fame.
The exhibits for the 2019 class were the first part of the Hall I saw. Pat Bowlen’s locker featured a couple of his leather jackets. But the item that caught my eye in Champ Bailey’s locker was, surprisingly, a bottle of Orange Crush. You’ve got to love the nod to the defensive past. With zero members of that historic defense enshrined in Canton, I couldn’t help but think that was why Champ may have included it. Who knows.
One of the more unexpected exhibits at the Hall was a showcase of, essentially, the history of football cards. Personally, I was drawn to the oldest cards, ones from the turn of last century, and the cards of past Broncos players. Photography in this particular area was prohibited, so there isn’t much I could tweet out. However, one card caught my attention. Don’t worry, I found a picture of it online and violated no Hall of Fame rules.
Fans come to the Hall of Fame to see their team’s history and players’ artifacts, and I am no different. Peppered throughout the Hall are jerseys, shoes, helmets and other Broncos gear that did not disappoint.
Terrell Davis earned a “hat day” after earning Super Bowl XXXII MVP honors. Here is his helmet alongside Gary Zimmerman’s pads and shoes. pic.twitter.com/NPyC3EQGfi— MileHighReport (@MileHighReport) August 3, 2019
It’s history and so it belongs at the Hall of Fame. Don’t @ me. pic.twitter.com/HnA6FgKiTB— MileHighReport (@MileHighReport) August 3, 2019
When it came to artifacts, it wasn’t just footballs, but the kind of random memorabilia that any fan would proudly display.
Can’t help but notice this box is open. Come clean. Who was snacking on the Hall of Fame’s box of Comeback Crunch? pic.twitter.com/2fMWvJ1q2x— MileHighReport (@MileHighReport) August 3, 2019
When this logo and accompanying gold 50-yard line on the field were unveiled for the 50th anniversary of the NFL, I wasn’t a big fan. Now? Chills. pic.twitter.com/CXHatMF0d5— MileHighReport (@MileHighReport) August 3, 2019
Super Bowl XII didn’t go Denver’s way, but it sent a message to he rest of the NFL that the Mile High City was no longer going to allow itself to be seen as inferior when it comes to the game of football. pic.twitter.com/mcGfbqZl2s— MileHighReport (@MileHighReport) August 3, 2019
Then there are the rings...
Love that Broncos bling. pic.twitter.com/iXMGKhu7si— MileHighReport (@MileHighReport) August 3, 2019
Denver fans may go to the hall to see Broncos history, but it soon becomes clear that the Broncos don’t exist within a vacuum, but are part of a larger organism that is the NFL. Sure, the charismatic players and events, both good and bad, that have driven the team forward through time, but it’s also the historical details that helped shape the team into what we recognize today.
...and Broncos football was born. pic.twitter.com/lTdpDmjazr— MileHighReport (@MileHighReport) August 3, 2019
When the NFL wasn’t interested in a “Super Bowl” type game. pic.twitter.com/OYa32UY7IE— MileHighReport (@MileHighReport) August 3, 2019
After refusing to play in New Orleans, many of the AFL’s African American All Stars faced retribution for their admirable stand. It was this such retribution (among other reasons) that brought Bills legendary back Cookie Gilchrist to Denver in trade. pic.twitter.com/e8X6TFX6U7— MileHighReport (@MileHighReport) August 3, 2019
Briscoe’s 14 touchdown passes still stand as the Broncos rookie passing record. pic.twitter.com/KCgOGSN7uU— MileHighReport (@MileHighReport) August 3, 2019
Then there’s the historical, formation-of-the-game-type stuff that blows your mind. Things that we take for granted as football fans.
Things like the forward pass and the layout of the field.
Things like fourth downs.
How to “know” it’s a fourth down.
Football history is awesome. pic.twitter.com/uiu1EyFgpw— MileHighReport (@MileHighReport) August 3, 2019
...and what would the Broncos be without the horse on the side of the helmet?
Former Broncos GM Fred Gehrke (1977-1981) was the first to design a logo for an NFL team’s helmet. Also featured, the stuff (helmet) of nightmares. pic.twitter.com/0ONtIEYhq8— MileHighReport (@MileHighReport) August 3, 2019
If you’re a football fan, you don’t need to be told that Canton is a special place.
As Broncos fans, we are blessed that so much of our history is on display. While there may be, rightfully, a fair amount of hand wringing over just who deserves eternal residency in the bust gallery, Denver fans should be very pleased with the love that the Hall of Fame shows the Mile High City.
If you want to see MHR’s tour of the bust gallery, you can find it here.