It’s football season, kids!

Well, preseason football anyway and this weekend will be a celebration of both the past and present. That’s the agenda this weekend in Canton, Ohio, birthplace of the NFL.

First, the past is saluted with the Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony on Saturday at 7 p.m. Eastern on NFL Network and ESPN. History will be at the forefront as the Hall of Fame class of 2015 is inducted, sporting their new gold Hall jackets in front of returning Hall of Famers and thousands of fans.

“This is a wonderfully spectacular tradition, one of the greatest in all of sports,” says Hall of Fame president David Barker. “Nowhere can fans see so many of the greatest heroes of the game in one place at one time. There’s no better way to kick off the NFL season.”

The Hall of Fame class of 2015:

INDUCTEE – POSITION(S); TEAM(S), YEARS
Jerome Bettis – RB; 1993-95 Rams, 1996-2005 Steelers
Tim Brown – WR/KR/PR; 1988-2003 Raiders, 2004 Buccaneers
Charles Haley – DE/LB; 1986-1991, 1999 49ers, 1992-96 Cowboys
Bill Polian – Contributor; 1978-1982 Chiefs, 1984-1992 Bills, 1993-94 NFL, 1995-97 Panthers, 1998-2011 Colts
Junior Seau – LB/ 1990-2002 Chargers, 2003-05 Dolphins, 2006-09 Patriots
Will Shields – G; 1993-2006 Chiefs
Mick Tingelhoff – C; 1962-1978 Vikings
Ron Wolf – Contributor; 1963-1974, 1979-1989 Raiders, 1966 AFL, 1976-78 Buccaneers, 1990-91 Jets, 1991-2001 Packers

“…AND NOW, TO PRESENT…”

Always of interest are the names of the “presenters” of the Pro Football Hall of Fame inductees on their special day.

Jerome Bettis selected his brother John Bettis III to represent him.

“My brother has been the biggest Steeler fan in the world since we were kids,” Bettis told the Pittsburgh Gazette, KDKA-TV and USA Today. “All he wanted was for me to play for the Steelers and when that opportunity came there was nobody happier than my brother. He’s been my biggest fan, my biggest supporter my entire career.”

The Pro Football Hall of Fame class of 2015 presenters:

INDUCTEE – PRESENTER, RELATIONSHIP
Jerome Bettis – John Bettis III, Brother
Tim Brown – Donald Kelly, Brother
Charles Haley – Edward DeBartolo, Jr., Former 49ers owner
Bill Polian – Marv Levy, HOF coach
Junior Seau – Sydney Seau, Daughter
Will Shields – Adrian Lunsford, Friend
Mick Tingelhoff – Fran Tarkenton, Teammate & HOF QB
Ron Wolf – Eliot Wolf, Son

Then on Sunday night, it’s back to football with the first game of the year (yes, there’s a football game… were you paying attention?) – the annual NFL/Hall of Fame Game at 8 p.m. Eastern at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium on NBC – when the Pittsburgh Steelers and Minnesota Vikings meet.

The NFL is launching a year-long celebration of the Super Bowl to commemorate Super Bowl 50, which will be played on Sunday, February 7, 2016 at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California. The “On The Fifty” platform is designed to link the past 49 Super Bowls with this year’s game and honor the teams, players, coaches, fans and communities that have been a part of those games. The 2015 NFL schedule will feature several Super Bowl rematches, beginning with Sunday’s Hall of Fame Game featuring Pittsburgh and Minnesota in a Super Bowl IX rematch. The regular-season schedule includes 19 Super Bowl rematches.

Sunday also marks the debut of the NFL’s new rules governing extra-point attempts. The extra point attempt will now be snapped from the 15-yard line, while two point-conversions will remain at the two-yard line. Additionally, the defense will be able to return a blocked kick, interception or fumble for two points.

The NFL/Hall of Fame Game will cap a memorable weekend for Steelers and Vikings fans one night after former Steelers running back Jerome Bettis and former Vikings center Mick Tinglehoff are inducted into the Hall.

“It’s a special time I am sure for Jerome,” says Steelers wide receiver John Stallworth, who was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a member of the 2002 class. “For me, when I went in it was seeing all of the things you did, all the workouts, all of the sacrifice when you could have been doing things other guys were doing and you chose to work on your craft. It is recognition that all of that is worthwhile. That means a whole lot.”

The Steelers’ appearance will mark the sixth time the team has played in the NFL/Hall of Fame Game (1963, 1964, 1983, 1998, 2007).

“I’ll take it,” Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said of the extra work his team will get by preparing for and playing in this year’s NFL/Hall of Fame Game. “Having a fifth preseason game is an advantage if we make it one.”

The Vikings will play in the preseason classic for the fourth time in franchise history (1970, 1982, 1997).

“I think it gives you good work, especially for a young football team,” Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer told the Minneapolis Tribune about playing in the Hall of Fame Game. “It gives us another chance to evaluate our young players. Some of these guys in their first preseason game, when we go to Canton in the Hall of Fame Game, their eyes are probably going to be that big.”

Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is anxiously awaiting his return to the field as he prepares for his second season as the starter in Minnesota.

“We’re heading to Canton, Ohio, ready to play our first preseason game, so we’re pretty excited and can’t wait to get back to work,” says Bridgewater.

Advertisements