One of the most inspirational Hall of Fame speeches I can recall in recent years was made in 2007 by former Dallas Cowboys receiver Michael Irvin. He urged the NFL to send rookies to Canton, Ohio, to see the Hall of Fame and give young players an increased appreciation and awareness for the league before they play their first down.
The NFL agreed and had a successful year of doing it in 2008. I lived in nearby Cleveland at the time, and wrote a story on the Falcons' and Dolphins' rookie classes making the trip. You can read the story here, which features a picture and interview with Dolphins then-rookie left tackle Jake Long.
But the program lasted just one year. A great idea was stymied in part due to logistics and the economy, according to the NFL.
This week, the NFL is holding its rookie symposium in Northeast Ohio. AFC and NFC rookies will attend seminars, do charity events and visit the Hall of Fame before heading off to summer vacation. It’s great to see first-year players get engulfed in one of the historic areas of football.
One surprising thing I learned when writing the Hall of Fame story four years ago is how many rookies have never been to the shrine of the NFL. This week provides a chance for first-year players to be inspired to represent the league well and put their best foot forward.