I recently made a trip to Canton for the MAC’s annual football media days, which were held at the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
While I could spend multiple days roaming through the shrine to pro football, I tried to keep my focus narrow.
Here are the local connections I found in a quick trip through the Hall’s halls:
Dayton Triangles team photo
Of course, this was the first thing I looked for. Dayton was part of what is now the NFL from the beginning, including playing host to the first game in league history, a 14-0 win over the Columbus Panhandlers played at Triangle Park.
Paul Brown’s hat
While the Triangles were part of the earliest days of the NFL, Paul Brown was among the most influential people in multiple eras.
The Miami University graduate coached the Cleveland Browns, who entered the league in the 1950s, then founded the Cincinnati Bengals.
He also had great taste in hats.
James Conzelman’s speech
I admit I had to look this one up. I stumbled upon a copy of a commencement speech delivered to Flyers grads, and I had no idea what it was.
Turns out Conzelman was a coach of the Chicago Cardinals, and this speech was immensely popular in its day.
According to the Associated Press’ obituary when Conzelman died in August 1970, “Conzelman had made a deep impression the previous year with his commencement address, ‘A Young Man's Mental and Physical Approach to War.’ It was twice reprinted in the congressional Record, and 50,000 copies of the speech were distributed.”
Best-known as the coach of Pittsburgh Steelers when the “Steel Curtain” won four Super Bowls in the 1987s, Noll played at the University of Dayton in the early ‘50s.
No trip to the Hall of Fame would be complete without checking out the bust of Anthony Munoz.
The only Bengals player to be inducted so far, he is considered by some to be the best left tackle in league history.
Born in Troy, Carter became a star at Middletown High School and then Ohio State.
He overcame drug problems in the NFL to become one of the most prolific pass catchers in league history and was inducted into the Hall of Fame four years ago.
Andy Dalton’s jersey
Another confession: I had to do a double-take when I saw the No. 14 hanging in a display case.
The current Bengals signal-caller is having a nice career, but he’s pretty far from qualifying for a bust in Canton.
For now, he’s represented by a jersey donated after he tied an NFL record with the 23rd road victory of the first five seasons of his career.