Hall of Fame fans arrive early

CANTON, Ohio – NFL.com’s Gil Brandt has always been an early riser. On Enshrinement Day in Canton, he’s not alone. Brandt showed up outside the Pro Football Hall of Fame at 8:30 a.m. Saturday, and the place was already buzzing with fans wearing the team colors of all seven men being inducted into the Hall – even though the ceremony wasn’t set to begin for another 10-plus hours.

Naturally, the Dallas Cowboys fans here to see Emmitt Smith go into the Hall were excited to see Brandt, the man who drafted and signed so many of the Cowboys already enshrined in the Hall.

“I spoke to one guy who’s here from Wheeling, W.Va.,” Brandt said. “His house burned down, he lost his hand. But he’s here to see Emmitt go in. He told me he bought a picture for $1,200 of the five Cowboys who were Super Bowl MVPs. He said his wife will kill him for spending $1,200 on the picture … but it’s the first thing he’s hanging on the wall of his new house.”

Brandt also ran into former Cardinals and Cowboys tight end Jackie Smith, one of the many returning Hall of Famers who will take part in autograph sessions throughout the day leading up to tonight’s enshrinement ceremony.

The souvenir and signing tents are already open, and local residents are charging $20 for fans to park in their driveways. The grounds will be packed soon, and football royalty will be on display.

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