Each year since 1963, the NFL decorates legendary football players of the past and present during the Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Week. This year, fans can witness a parade of more than 100 returning Gold Jackets and living Hall of Famers to help usher in the next group of NFL inductees.
For 2020, these include five modern-era players, Steve Atwater, Isaac Bruce, Steve Hutchinson, Edgerrin James, and Troy Polamalu, as well as two coaches, Bill Cowher and Jimmy Johnson, and three contributors, Steve Sabol, Paul Tagliabue, and George Young.
Before you celebrate these NFL players’ legendary careers, you should know these important facts about the Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Week:
1. What is the Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Week?
The annual Hall of Fame Enshrinement ceremony recognizes exceptional athletes, coaches, and franchise owners who’ve made significant contributions to the game of football. Between four and eight new members are inducted each year during a week-long celebration that culminates with the awarding of distinctive gold jackets to inductees.
2. Where did this prestigious event originate?
The city of Canton, Ohio is considered the birthplace of modern football. When plans were announced to build an enshrinement hall for NFL players, the city mounted an aggressive fundraising campaign and won the bid.
In 1962, the NFL broke ground to construct the original building — just two interior rooms amounting to 19,000 square feet. Since then, the prestigious event has grown in both size and stature with many building expansions and program additions.
3. How are Hall of Famers chosen?
Enshrinees are selected by a committee of 48 people, including members of the sports media, one representative from each city with a current NFL team, and one rep from the Pro Football Writers Association. Known as the Selection Committee, these delegates get polled three times per year to eventually compile a list of nominees.
Fans can also nominate a player, coach, or contributor by writing a letter or sending an email to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Next, a vote takes place to determine which eligible nominees — retired from the NFL for at least five years — enter the current year’s NFL Hall of Fame.
4. What is the annual Hall of Fame Game?
An annual NFL exhibition game, the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game takes place during enshrinement week. Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium, part of Johnson Controls Hall of Fame Village in Canton, Ohio, hosts the entertaining event.
5. Who will play in the Hall of Fame Game in 2020?
This year, the Pittsburgh Steelers will play the Dallas Cowboys in the NFL’s 2020 Hall of Fame Game in August.
6. How are the teams chosen?
The NFL typically selects the two teams that play in the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game in advance of the preseason schedule. The participants are usually announced around the time the new Hall of Fame members are announced, which coincides with Super Bowl week.
7. When is the Enshrinement Ceremony?
The Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Week includes autograph sessions, tailgate parties, private and public receptions, and a Gold Jacket walk. The Class of 2020 Enshrinement Ceremony occurs on Saturday and kicks off the 2020 NFL preseason.
8. What is the Concert for Legends?
The 2020 Concert for Legends will take place on Sunday, Aug. 9 at 8 p.m. ET in Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium and wraps up the 2020 Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Week. Musical performers for the Concert for Legends will be announced at a later date.
9. What are the dates for these events?
Thursday, August 6, 2020: Class of 2020 Autograph Session, VIP Tailgate Kickoff Party, and Hall of Fame Game
Friday, August 7, 2020: VIP Gold Jacket Reception, Enshrinees’ Gold Jacket Ceremony, and Private Reception at the Hall of Fame
Saturday, August 8, 2020: Enshrinement Stage Photo, Returning Gold Jacket Autograph Session, the Gold Jacket Walk, and the Class of 2020 Enshrinement Ceremony
Sunday, August 9, 2020: Breakfast With the Busts, Enshrinees’ Roundtable Luncheon, and the Concert for Legends
10. What is the Centennial Celebration
This is the NFL’s year-long celebration of the 100th season that took place in 2019. The extravaganza is planned for Sept. 16-19, 2020 to honor the 100th Birthday of the National Football League.
While the majority of NFL preseason games typically air on local TV stations only, the Hall of Fame Game is broadcast nationwide for the entire country to enjoy.