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Pro Football Hall of Fame Welcomes New Enshrinees and a New Partner: Black Colleges

photo of Pro Football HOF
Professional Football Hall Of Fame

Two of this year’s Pro Football Hall of Fame inductees are from northeast Ohio.  WKSU’s Tim Rudell says both found the return to the region moving.

HOF Class of 2016, Orlando Pace
Credit Tim Rudell / WKSU
Orlando Pace

Three-time All-Pro offensive tackle Orlando Pace, who was all-everything at Ohio State, is from Sandusky.  And, although he says he’s stayed close with his family there, being back for the Hall of Fame experience is special.

“Being that I grew up in Ohio, played high school football here, played college football here, there are so many great moments I have in Ohio, to finish it off here in Canton, it couldn’t be any better.”

Eddie DeBartoloJr., going into the Hall of Fame as the owner of the 49rs, is from Youngstown.

Edward DeBartolo, Jr.
Credit Tim Rudell / WKSU
Edward DeBartolo, Jr.

“To be selected as one of the class of 2016, come back to Canton, just 40 miles from our home, it’s almost like my life came full circle."

Click here for a ink to the entire class of 2016

An added wing to the hall
Northeast Ohio is the center of the football world right now with the NFL’s Hall of Fame Week under way. This year’s activities and announcements include that there will be another Hall of Fame on site in Canton, within the Pro Football complex:

A 10,000-square-foot Black College Football Hall of Fame to celebrate the athletes from traditional black institutions — 29 of whom are in the Pro Football Hall too.

James Harris, former quarterback of the Buffalo Bills, Los Angeles Rams and San Diego Chargers, and a retired vice president of the Detroit Lions, is a Grambling graduate and co-founder of the Historically Black College Hall of Fame.

“You look at Walter Payton, maybe the third-leading rusher in history. But most people don’t know he came from Jackson State.  Jerry Rice, the leading receiver in the history of the game.  But most fans don’t know he came from Mississippi Valley.  Deacon Jones, many consider the best pass rusher ever.  But the fans wouldn’t know his alma mater. Those are the kinds of history and tradition that we’re trying to keep alive.”

James Harris, former NFL quarterback
James Harris
Credit Tim Rudell / WKSU
James Harris, co-founder Black College Football Hall of Fame

In addition to the new HBC Hall of Fame, there are plans to help set off the college football season each year with a nationally televised game at Benson Stadium in Canton between teams from historically black college and universities.