CANTON, Ohio — The road to the Pro Football Hall of Fame begins in Cleveland, where Hopkins International Airport is already overrun with autograph hounds.
The swarm of pen-holding, helmet-toting fans were waiting eagerly as we made our way down the escalator and toward baggage claim. Then suddenly, like a school of fish, they moved in unison, as one father shouted back to his son, “get your pen, it’s Willie Davis!”
From there it was on to Route 84 East, down 77 South, straight into Canton, where the McKinley hotel is already bustling with former players, all indebted one way or another to Gil Brandt … or so Gil likes to tell us.
Outside two ballrooms filled wall to wall with memorabilia, players reacquaint themselves with one another and introduce their sons, who are often in search of autographs for their own personal collection.
In one hallway you have Gale Sayers giving a radio interview, just a few feet away from the likes of Charlie Sanders and Raymond Berry, who are more than happy to contribute to the massive autograph operation taking place. Outside, Deion Sanders just pulled up in his RV. More on all that later, as we get settled in here.
Until then, stick with NFL.com for the latest from what is shaping up to be a memorable weekend in Canton.
– Aron Angel