Skip to main content

The Pro Football Hall of Fame is the ultimate dream for NFL players and coaches. While some may claim they don’t think about it, the chance to receive the bronze bust sculpture and a gold jacket lurks in the back of their minds. Induction into the Hall of Fame represents a lifetime of achievement, symbolizes excellence, and is a true honor.

Every year, thousands of NFL fans flock to northeast Ohio for the Hall of Fame induction ceremony. But do those fans know why they’ve traveled specifically to Canton, Ohio? The NFL headquarters is located in New York City, which has more than eight million people. So why is a city that houses just over 73,000 people the home of the Pro Football Hall of Fame? Well, there are three reasons.

The NFL was founded in Canton, Ohio

While professional football was believed to have started in 1892, there was no real organization to the game. Teams had popped up around the country, but there was little structure. Leagues had been formed. However, the pro game had a ton of problems. This changed on September 17, 1920.

On that day, a group of men met for a meeting in the auto showroom of Hupmobile, which was owned by Ralph Hay, owner of the Canton Bulldogs, one of 11 franchises represented at the meeting.

At the conclusion of the meeting, the NFL had been born, although it was named the American Professional Football Association. The league was renamed the National Football League in 1922.

The Canton Bulldogs were the first two-time NFL champions

The Canton Bulldogs were first formed in 1903 as part of the Ohio League. The Bulldogs were members of the Ohio League from 1903-1906 and 1911-1919, winning three titles in four years before joining what’s now the NFL in 1920.

After the Akron Pros and Chicago Staleys, who would become the Chicago Bears in 1922, won the first two NFL championships, the Canton Bulldogs became the first two-time NFL champs, winning back-to-back titles in 1922 and 1923. Led by player-coach Guy Chamberlin, the Bulldogs went 22-0-3 in a 25-game span at one point. To this day, it’s still the longest undefeated streak in NFL history.

Ralph Hay sold the team following the 1923 season, and it was moved to Cleveland. The Cleveland Bulldogs won the 1924 NFL championship but are not recognized as the same team. A new incarnation of the Bulldogs formed in 1925, much like what happened with the Cleveland Browns in the ’90s. However, the team never won another championship and officially disbanded in 1927.

The residents of Canton raised the money to build the Pro Football Hall of Fame

The entrance to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, on a sunny day
Pro Football Hall of Fame | Joe Robbins/Getty Images

The residents of Canton, Ohio, are the main reason the Pro Football Hall of Fame exists today. The city had lobbied the NFL to build a Hall of Fame building there, with the reasoning that the league was formed there and it housed one of the best early teams in the league’s history.

However, what took things over the top was the $400,000 fundraising effort within the community. Equivalent to nearly $3 million in today’s money, the effort was enough to convince the NFL to erect the building in Canton. Groundbreaking began on August 11, 1962.

The original building had just two rooms and took up 19,000 square feet. Today, after numerous renovations, the Pro Football Hall of Fame is approximately 118,000 square feet.


Deion Sanders Wants Journalists to ‘Get Out of the Way’ and Let NFL Players Decide Who Enters the Pro Football Hall of Fame