Why is the football hall of fame in canton ? The Pro Football Hall of Fame is located in Canton, Ohio, because of its significant role in professional football’s early history. In the 1920s, several professional football teams were striving to establish a unified organization to regulate and promote the sport. Canton played a crucial role in forming and developing the National Football League (NFL), which was later founded in Canton on September 17, 1920.
Canton was chosen as the site for the Pro Football Hall of Fame due to its central location in the United States and its historical significance in the foundation of the NFL.
The Canton Bulldogs were an early pro football power, winning the NFL championship twice in 1922 and 1923. The great Jim Thorpe, the first big-name athlete to play pro football, started his pro football career with the Bulldogs in 1915. In the 1960s, Canton citizens launched a well-organized campaign to earn the site designation for their city.
The Pro Football Hall of Fame honors the achievements and contributions of individuals who have significantly impacted American football, including players, coaches, team owners, and other important figures.
It has become a focal point for celebrating the rich history of the NFL and showcasing the sport’s evolution from its early days to the modern era. Despite not being home to an NFL team, Canton’s ongoing commitment to preserving football history is evident through establishing the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Why Is the Pro Football Hall of Fame Located in Canton, Ohio?
The Pro Football Hall of Fame is the ultimate dream for NFL players and coaches. While some may claim they don’t think about it, the chance to receive the bronze bust sculpture and a gold jacket lurks in the back of their minds. Induction into the Hall of Fame represents a lifetime of achievement, symbolizes excellence, and is a true honor.
Every year, thousands of NFL fans flock to northeast Ohio for the Hall of Fame induction ceremony. But do those fans know why they’ve traveled specifically to Canton, Ohio? The NFL headquarters is located in New York City, which has more than eight million people. So why is a city that houses just over 73,000 people the home of the Pro Football Hall of Fame? Well, there are three reasons.
The NFL was founded in Canton, Ohio
While professional football was believed to have started in 1892, there was no real organization to the game. Teams had popped up around the country, but there was little structure. Leagues had been formed. However, the pro game had a ton of problems. This changed on September 17, 1920.
On that day, a group of men met for a meeting in the auto showroom of Hupmobile, which was owned by Ralph Hay, owner of the Canton Bulldogs, one of 11 franchises represented at the meeting.
At the conclusion of the meeting, the NFL had been born, although it was named the American Professional Football Association. The league was renamed the National Football League in 1922.
The Canton Bulldogs were the first two-time NFL champions
The Canton Bulldogs were first formed in 1903 as part of the Ohio League. The Bulldogs were members of the Ohio League from 1903-1906 and 1911-1919, winning three titles in four years before joining what’s now the NFL in 1920.
After the Akron Pros and Chicago Staleys, who would become the Chicago Bears in 1922, won the first two NFL championships, the Canton Bulldogs became the first two-time NFL champs, winning back-to-back titles in 1922 and 1923. Led by player-coach Guy Chamberlin, the Bulldogs went 22-0-3 in a 25-game span at one point. To this day, it’s still the longest undefeated streak in NFL history.
Ralph Hay sold the team following the 1923 season, and it was moved to Cleveland. The Cleveland Bulldogs won the 1924 NFL championship but are not recognized as the same team. A new incarnation of the Bulldogs formed in 1925, much like what happened with the Cleveland Browns in the ’90s. However, the team never won another championship and officially disbanded in 1927.
The residents of Canton raised the money to build the Pro Football Hall of Fame
The residents of Canton, Ohio, are the main reason the Pro Football Hall of Fame exists today. The city had lobbied the NFL to build a Hall of Fame building there, with the reasoning that the league was formed there and it housed one of the best early teams in the league’s history.
However, what took things over the top was the $400,000 fundraising effort within the community. Equivalent to nearly $3 million in today’s money, the effort was enough to convince the NFL to erect the building in Canton. Groundbreaking began on August 11, 1962.
The original building had just two rooms and took up 19,000 square feet. Today, after numerous renovations, the Pro Football Hall of Fame is approximately 118,000 square feet.
THE CRADLE OF PRO FOOTBALL
Ralph Hay, the Canton auto dealer who hosted the 1920 meetings, sold Hupmobiles (a brand of American cars made by the Hupp Motor Car Company that went belly up in 1940) and owned the professional football team the Canton Bulldogs. At the meetings, he and George Halas of the Decatur Staleys, Jim Thorpe, the Olympic athlete and professional baseball and football player, and several other owners hashed out the details for what they dubbed the American Professional Football Association. They changed the name to the National Football League two years later.
They named Thorpe the league’s first president. In the original makeup, Ohio had the most teams at five. Illinois had four, Indiana and New York had two, and Michigan had one. Since the meetings took place in Canton, the city eventually claimed the title “the Cradle of Pro Football.” The city’s residents took the claim seriously and raised the equivalent today of around $4 million in 90 days to help build the Hall of Fame.
A TREASURE HUNT
Canton, besides being the birthplace of the NFL, had another claim on why it should be the Hall of Fame’s home. Ralph Hay’s team, the now-defunct Canton Bulldogs, were the league’s first two-time champions in 1922 and 1923.
Besides the residents who chipped in to help build the Hall of Fame, the city donated 14 acres of land, per the Associated Press. NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle helped break ground on the site in August 1962 for the building with a football-shaped roof.
Dick McCann, the first president of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, quit his job as the general manager of the Washington Redskins to take the job. He was soon on “one of the biggest treasure hunts in sports history,” he recalled (via The Marion Star). Some of the items he found included Jim Thorpe’s sweater and Knute Rockne’s helmet, among other treasures.
Thorpe, who died in 1953, was among the first 17 inductees to the Hall of Fame — 11 of whom were on hand for the ceremony, including George Halas, who helped found the NFL. His team, the Decatur Staleys, is one of two teams still around. They’re now known as the Chicago Bears. The other team is the Arizona Cardinals, which started out in Chicago.
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