The first week of training camp has wrapped up for the Colts, and while I site here typing out my observations on the first week, I was suddenly reminded that THERE IS A FOOTBALL GAME ON TODAY!
Of course, it does not involve the Colts. And, of course, it is not a real game. It is, however, the official start of "pre-season," with the Buffalo Bills facing the Tennessee Titans in the annual Pro Football Hall of Fame game.
The Hall of Fame Game, that takes place the day following the enshrinement of the Class of 2009 (Bob Hayes, Randall McDaniel, Bruce Smith, Derrick Thomas, Ralph Wilson and Rod Woodson), caps the multi-day Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Festival in Canton.
It also marks the first of numerous ways in which the NFL will pay tribute to the American Football League’s 50th Anniversary Season throughout the year. The Titans (who began as the Houston Oilers) and the Bills are charter members of the AFL. The AFL merged with the NFL in 1970 with all of the AFL clubs joining the newly created American Football Conference (AFC). In honor of the anniversary, the Titans will take the field in Houston Oilers ‘60s styled uniforms. Buffalo will also wear throwback uniforms in the game.Kickoff is scheduled for Sunday, August 9, 2009 at 8:00 PM ET and the game will be televised nationally by NBC.
Derrick Thomas was always one of my favorite players. So, I personally am happy he is going in. Chiefs fans are practically throwing a parade. It was pretty touching when Thomas' son, Darrion, took the stage as a family representative during the induction. Carl Peterson gave a pretty moving speech on Thomas' behalf.
Bill Polian has some strong attachment to this HoF game. He drafted Bruce Smith, and Polian also once worked for Bills owner Ralph Wilson. Another Colts connection to this HoF class: Bruce Smith's presenter, former defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell, jokingly said in his presentation speech that Bruce Smith would have had even more sacks in his career if not for Dan Marino and Peyton Manning.
Nearly enshrined All-Pro offensive lineman Randall McDaniel thanked his former coach with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2000-2001), Tony Dungy. McDaniel was a guard for most of his career with the Minnesota Vikings. McDaniel's speech, for me, was the best. He's an educator now, and he compared his current work as a teacher with his work in the NFL as a lineman, saying both jobs are hard, go mostly unnoticed (unless something goes wrong), involve passionate people, and without them the whole system (the offense in the NFL, and society in America) doesn't work. Great speech. I recommend listening to it.
Both teams playing in the HOF game today (the Titans and the Bills) are wearing throw back jerseys, which (in my humble opinion) should be a staple of the HoF game. The game is there to honor the past. Why not have the current players honor the past with some cool throw backs every year?
NFL.com has some great stuff up, including the enshrinement speeches for Bruce Smith and Ralph Wilson. And, yes, we will indeed have an open thread up this evening when the game starts.