Hall of Fame

What is the Definition of Hall of Fame in American Football?

The Hall of Fame in American Football, also known as the Pro Football Hall of Fame, serves as a prestigious institution that honors the greatest figures in the history of professional football. Established in 1963, the Hall of Fame resides in Canton, Ohio, where exceptional players, coaches, officials, owners, and front-office personnel – who have made significant contributions to the game of football, mainly in the National Football League (NFL), are enshrined. The Hall of Fame not only commemorates the achievements of these distinguished individuals, but also serves as a tribute to the sport, its history, and the impact it has had on American culture.

Over the years, the Pro Football Hall of Fame has inducted numerous noteworthy figures who have left an indelible mark on the sport. The selection process undergoes careful scrutiny, ensuring that only the most deserving candidates are immortalized in the hallowed halls. Additionally, the Hall of Fame features a museum where fans can learn about the game’s storied history, the inductees, and the impact that American football has had on both sports and society.

Key Takeaways

  • The Hall of Fame in American Football honors exceptional figures in professional football, including players, coaches, and officials.
  • The selection process carefully evaluates each candidate to ensure that only individuals who have significantly impacted the sport are inducted.
  • The Pro Football Hall of Fame includes a museum that offers an interactive experience, allowing visitors to learn about the game’s history and legends.

History of the Hall of Fame


The Pro Football Hall of Fame, located in Canton, Ohio, was established primarily due to three factors. Firstly, the American Professional Football Association (APFA), which was later renamed the National Football League (NFL), was founded in Canton on September 17, 1920. Secondly, the Canton Bulldogs were an early pro football power even before the days of the NFL. The Hall of Fame was officially opened on September 7, 1963, to enshrine exceptional figures in the sport of professional football, including players, coaches, officials, franchise owners, and front-office personnel, almost all of whom contributed significantly to the game in the NFL.


Over the years, the Pro Football Hall of Fame has seen a considerable growth in the number of inductees and the scale of the annual enshrinement ceremony. As the NFL became more popular and the pool of eligible candidates expanded, the Hall of Fame selection process had to evolve to accommodate more enshrinees. The Hall of Fame now boasts over 300 enshrined members who have made significant contributions to the sport of football throughout its storied history.


The Hall of Fame Game, which is a part of the annual enshrinement ceremony, has also seen changes over the years. Before the AFL-NFL merger, the game was played in August or September, sometimes at the end of the preseason. In 1970, it was moved to the beginning of the preseason, and prior to 2001, it was not uncommon for the game to be played in July. As the NFL and football itself have continued to grow in popularity, the Pro Football Hall of Fame has had to adapt and evolve to remain a relevant and cherished institution honoring the sport’s most influential figures.

Selection Process


Players, coaches, and contributors to professional American football are eligible for the Hall of Fame. To be considered, a player must be retired for at least five years, while coaches and contributors can be considered as soon as they retire. Each year, a list of first-time eligible players is created, and these players can join the list of other eligible individuals for consideration.

Selection Committee

The Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Selection Committee is responsible for choosing new members each year. This committee consists of media members and other football experts, who review the nominees in a multistep process. The process begins with the Preliminary Nominees List, which is then reduced to a list of 25 semifinalists, and finally to 15 finalists.

During the annual selection meeting, held on the day before the Super Bowl, the Selection Committee discusses and debates the cases of the 15 finalists. Through a series of votes, the committee narrows down the list until only a few candidates remain. The final inductees must receive at least 80% approval from the Selection Committee to be elected to the Hall of Fame.

There is no set number of inductees each year; however, the committee’s ground rules stipulate that a minimum of four and a maximum of eight new members can be selected. In special cases, such as the expanded Centennial Class in 2020, a separate selection panel may be formed, involving football personalities like Bill Belichick and former NFL team executives, to choose additional inductees.

Induction Ceremony

Once the new members are selected, they are inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in a formal induction ceremony. This event typically takes place in August, and it is held at the Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. During the ceremony, the new inductees receive their Hall of Fame busts, gold jackets, and rings, symbolizing their entrance into this prestigious group of football greats. They also deliver speeches, often reflecting on their career achievements and thanking those who helped them along the way. The Induction Ceremony is an opportunity for fans, family, and friends to celebrate and honor the lasting legacy of these exceptional individuals in the world of American football.

Notable Inductees


The Pro Football Hall of Fame honors some of the early pioneers who helped shape the sport. Jim Thorpe, considered one of the greatest athletes of all time, was a charter member of the Hall of Fame in 1963. He played for the Canton Bulldogs and was the first president of the American Professional Football Association, later known as the National Football League. Another key pioneer inducted is George Halas, who founded the Chicago Bears and played a crucial role in the growth of the NFL. Both Thorpe and Halas laid the groundwork for the modern game.

Record Holders

The Hall of Fame highlights players who set impressive records during their careers. Jerry Rice is often considered the greatest wide receiver of all time, holding multiple records like most career receptions, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns. Another standout is Emmitt Smith, the all-time leading rusher in NFL history, with 18,355 yards, and 164 rushing touchdowns. These record holders exemplify the peak of performance in their positions.

Influential Coaches

Coaching greats also have a spot in the Hall of Fame. Vince Lombardi, of the Green Bay Packers, is one of the most legendary NFL coaches. His achievements include three NFL championships and two Super Bowl victories. His name graces the iconic Super Bowl trophy. Another noteworthy inductee is Don Shula, the winningest coach in NFL history, with a total of 347 victories, and a perfect season with the Miami Dolphins in 1972.


Contributors who have made a significant impact on the sport are also enshrined in the hall. Al Davis, the former owner and general manager of the Oakland Raiders, played a crucial role in the successful AFL-NFL merger. Ed Sabol, the founder of NFL Films, revolutionized the way football was presented on television, greatly enhancing the league’s popularity.

These inductees represent just a few of the many extraordinary individuals who have left a lasting impact on the sport of American football. The Pro Football Hall of Fame honors their achievements and dedication to the game.

Hall of Fame Museum


The Hall of Fame Museum showcases the rich history and heritage of professional football in the United States. With a focus on the National Football League (NFL), the museum features exhibits that highlight exceptional figures in the sport, such as players, coaches, officials, and franchise owners. Visitors can explore various collections showcasing jerseys, helmets, and other memorabilia, as well as interactive displays that bring the game’s history to life.


The Pro Football Hall of Fame is located in Canton, Ohio, where the NFL was founded on September 17, 1920, as the American Professional Football Association. Canton was chosen due to its early prominence in professional football, being home to the Canton Bulldogs, an influential team even before the NFL’s inception.

Visiting Information

The Hall of Fame is open to visitors throughout the year and offers a range of admission options, including single-day tickets and memberships. The annual highlight of the Hall of Fame calendar is the Enshrinement Week, which features the Hall of Fame Game, enshrinement ceremony, and various other events. In 2023, Enshrinement Week festivities will occur from August 3rd to August 5th, with the Cleveland Browns facing the New York Jets in the Hall of Fame Game on August 3rd.

For more detailed information on the Hall of Fame and its exhibits, visit its website.

Impact on American Football

The Pro Football Hall of Fame, located in Canton, Ohio, holds a significant role in the history and impact of American football. Established on September 17, 1920, the Hall of Fame honors exceptional NFL players, coaches, and contributors who have made a substantial impact on the game, inducting them into a prestigious group that immortalizes their contributions to the sport.

The Hall of Fame is more than just a museum; it serves as a beacon of inspiration for aspiring football players and coaches. As they learn about the dedication, perseverance, and tenacity exhibited by the inductees, up-and-coming talents are encouraged to pursue excellence on and off the field.

Moreover, the Pro Football Hall of Fame boosts local tourism and economic growth in Canton. Each year, thousands of football enthusiasts visit the museum to admire the exhibits, participate in interactive installations, and attend the annual Hall of Fame Game and Enshrinement Ceremony. These events not only foster a sense of belonging and shared history within the football community but also generate substantial revenue for the city.

All in all, the Hall of Fame’s presence has a multifaceted impact on American football. By celebrating the sport’s legends and highlighting their remarkable feats, the institution contributes significantly to American football’s ongoing growth, influence, and cultural significance.

Controversies and Criticisms

The Pro Football Hall of Fame has faced its fair share of controversies and criticisms over the years. One of the most prominent issues stems from the selection process. The Hall of Fame requires four to eight candidates to be inducted each year. This quota system has been criticized as it may not truly reflect the talent and contributions of players in a given year, ultimately diminishing the prestige of the honor.

Another point of contention is the inclusion or exclusion of certain players based on factors unrelated to their on-field performance. For example, players with Super Bowl titles may be more likely to be inducted, while other deserving candidates without championships may be overlooked. This has led to the enshrinement of some players whose careers may be considered less distinguished than those left on the outside.

Additionally, the Hall of Fame has faced criticism over its handling of players with controversial pasts, whether due to off-field behavior or involvement in scandals. Some argue that these issues should not overshadow a player’s achievements, while others believe that inducting such players could tarnish the Hall’s reputation.

Lastly, the geographical location of the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, has been a subject of debate. While Canton holds historical significance as the birthplace of the NFL (then known as the American Professional Football Association), some argue that a more central or accessible location would better serve the interests of fans and the sport itself.

Despite these controversies and criticisms, the Pro Football Hall of Fame remains an important institution honoring the achievements and contributions of professional American football players. Like any other organization, it continues to evolve and adapt in response to changes in the sport and society at large.