CANTON, Ohio — The “First Play” to the Pro Football Hall of Fame kicked off the enshrinement week celebrations.
Thousands of children passed the pigskin from the city of Canton to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, which to some is the unofficial start of the NFL season, WKYC reported.
The first handoff was from former Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Bobby Taylor to Hall of Fame mascot Goldy the Goat in downtown Canton and continued all the way to the Hall of Fame, about three miles away, The Canton Repository reported. The event ended with the final handoff to Hall of Fame President Jim Porter, who said, “Football is back!” when he got the ball.
The ball will be used at kickoff in Thursday’s Pro Football Hall of Fame game between the New York Jets and Cleveland Browns, which starts at 8 p.m. and is part of enshrinement week.
Jarell Briggs was surprised at just how big a football used in professional games really is.
“The ball, it was big,” Briggs told WKYC. “I never held an NFL ball in my life and that was my first time doing it. It was a great experience.”
The event was put on by the league’s youth football program Play Football.
The Hall of Fame Class of 2023 includes:
- Joe Thomas (Cleveland Browns offense tackle).
- Joe Klecko (New York Jets defensive end/defensive tackle/nose tackle).
- Darrelle Revis (New York Jets cornerback).
- Rondé Barber (Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback/safety).
- Don Coryell (St. Louis Cardinals and San Diego Chargers coach).
- Chuck Howley (Dallas Cowboys linebacker).
- Ken Riley (Cincinnati Bengals cornerback).
- Zach Thomas (Miami Dolphins linebacker).
- DeMarcus Ware (Dallas Cowboys linebacker/defensive end).
The enshrinement ceremony will be held inside Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium on Saturday.