‘Hello, Canton!’

CANTON, Ohio — NFL Network’s Rich Eisen began the 2009 Hall of Fame induction ceremony in this fashion: “Hello, Canton!”

After a brief pause, he followed with: “Hello, Canton, Ohio!” That drew even louder cheers, especially from the Buffalo Bills fans, who appear to be dominating today’s crowd.

The 82 Hall of Famers who will be on stage today are lined up directly in front of me, and the collection of football talent is indescribable. Marcus Allen. Eric Dickerson. Harry Carson. George Blanda. Tony Dorsett. The list goes on and on.

As the HOFers are introduced, the guys who are still in lineĀ are cheering for their peers, and today’s inductees, seated behind a black screen offstage, are doing the same. Watching the HOFers take the whole thing in, one gets the sense that today is immensely important to their fraternity.

Michael Irvin is the only one wearing sunglasses. Jim Kelly, Thurman Thomas and Marv Levy have easily has drawn the loudest cheers so far. And yes, that was Tommy McDonald dancing his way onstage, and chest-bumping everyone, including Eisen.

One semi-related side note … Eisen told me today’s suit is brand new. Never been worn. Talk about a way to break in a new suit.

– Frank Tadych

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