The National Football League and the Pro Football Hall of Fame announced that a record number of Hall of Famers and youth will participate in Enshrinement Week festivities to celebrate the beginning of the 2016 football season. Enhanced youth-focused activities will include a youth football clinic led by Hall of Famers and local high school athletes to kick off the NFL’s “Play Football” Month, a nationwide celebration of youth and high school football players.

Major enhancements have been made to the Hall’s 17th annual “First Play” event which took place this morning. A chain of 2,500 children passed a football along a three-mile route, starting in downtown Canton where the NFL was founded in 1920 to the front steps of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Seven Hall of Famers – Elvin Bethea, Joe DeLamielleure, Mike Hayers, Paul Krause, James Lofton, Warren Moon and Andre Reed – the most ever in the history of First Play, will participate at the opening ceremony and join the children along the route before ending on the front steps of the Pro Hall of Fame. The “last pass” will be made by 8-year-old, Brett Rybarczyk from Cleveland, Wisconsin, who was named after Class of 2016 inductee Brett Farve.

The NFL will kick off Play Football Month with a special event and youth football clinic as part of the special Enshrinement Week festivities. Play Football Month celebrates the values of the game and recognizes the efforts and contributions of youth and high school football players and coaches across the country as they prepare to embark on the exciting journey of a new season. Throughout the preseason, the league and its 32 clubs will highlight the talent, character, values and achievements of football players, past and present, on and off the field.

Play Football events will include participation from Hall of Fame President David Baker, NFL Senior Director of Youth and High School Football and Super Bowl XXXVII Champion Roman Oben, and several Hall of Famers, including Mel Blount, Franco Harris, Warren Moon, John Randle, Andre Reed and Andre Tippett.

More than 600 children will participate in a Play Football Clinic on Thursday, including the Ryan Football team from Miami, Florida, the 2015 NFL FLAG National Champions in the 13-14 Division. The clinic will focus on the fundamentals of football as well as the character and values it builds in all who play the game. Hall of Fame greats will lead football skills and drills alongside coaches and varsity football players from Canton’s McKinley High School. The clinic will take place at the new National Football & Youth Sports Complex, part of Hall of Fame Village, a $500 million development project of the Pro Football Hall of Fame campus.

The Pro Football Hall of Fame’s vast programming is deeply rooted in the Hall’s Mission to “Honor the Heroes of the Game, Preserve its History, Promote its Values & Celebrate Excellence EVERYWHERE!” The Play Football Clinic is one of the many ways that the Hall works with the NFL to recognize and celebrate the core values learned from the Game – commitment, integrity, courage, respect and excellence – that help build character in all areas of life.

For more information on Play Football Month, visit playfootball.com and join the conversation using #letsplayfootball.

ABOUT THE PRO FOOTBALL HALL OF FAME: Located in Canton, Ohio, the birthplace of the National Football League, the Pro
Football Hall of Fame’s Mission is to Honor the Heroes of the Game, Preserve its History, Promote its Values, & Celebrate Excellence EVERYWHERE.

Hundreds of thousands of fans from across the globe travel to Canton annually to experience the exciting museum that chronicles America’s most popular sport. Millions more are reached through the Hall of Fame’s 100-plus special events held annually outside Canton and through the multiple nationally broadcast programs focused on the selection of the newest Class of Enshrinees – Edward J. DeBartolo, Jr., Tony Dungy, Brett Favre, Kevin Greene, Marvin Harrison, Orlando Pace, Ken Stabler and Dick Stanfel – and the Enshrinement Weekend (August 4-7, 2016).

Now in its fourth year of traveling, Gridiron Glory: The Best of the Pro Football Hall of Fame is a large-scale traveling exhibition that presents a panoramic view of pro football’s story and includes hundreds of artifacts from the Hall’s expansive collection. Gridiron Glory is showcased at Virginia Historical Society from May 28-September 4, 2016. From there it will travel to the Minnesota History Center Museum in Minneapolis/St. Paul and then for three-month stays at various museums and cultural institutions through 2019. Enshrinees from the Class of 2016 along with numerous other Hall of Fame members will receive the spectacular Hall of Fame Ring of Excellence by Kay® Jewelers during ceremonies held in NFL stadiums during the 2016 NFL regular season. The Hometown Hall of Famer™ program presented by Ford honors Hall of Fame heroes with a program and permanent plaque to honor the Hall of Famer’s hometown support. Now in its 4th year, the US Army-Pro Football Hall of Fame Award for Excellence honors 20 high school students nationally for excellence in community service, academics and athletics. Construction on HOF Village, a $500 million development project, is under way in Canton to transform the Hall of Fame’s campus.

For more information about the Pro Football Hall of Fame, please visit ProFootballHOF.com; @ProFootballHOF

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