Pro Football Hall of Fame Game
|Stadium||Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium|
|Location||Canton, Ohio, U.S.|
|Recent and upcoming games|
|Jacksonville Jaguars 11 Las Vegas Raiders 27|
|New York Jets vs. Cleveland Browns|
The Pro Football Hall of Fame Game is an annual National Football League (NFL) exhibition game in Canton, Ohio, held the weekend of the Pro Football Hall of Fame's induction ceremonies. The game is played at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium, part of Hall of Fame Village and located adjacent to the Hall of Fame building. The first game was played in 1962, when ground was broken for the Hall of Fame.
The two teams that play in the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game are typically selected by the league in advance of the remainder of the preseason schedule. The participants are usually announced around the time that the new Hall of Fame members are announced, which coincides with Super Bowl week. Often, if a particularly notable player will be entering the Hall of Fame that year, a team they were strongly associated with may be selected to play in the game to help maximize attendance and publicity of the game itself.
From 1971 to 2010, the opponents for each game usually included one AFC team and one NFC team. In 2009, as recognition of the 50th anniversary of the American Football League, the game paired two AFC teams who were part of the "original eight" franchises of the AFL (1960), the Tennessee Titans (dressed as their previous incarnation, the Houston Oilers) and the Buffalo Bills, whose owner, Ralph Wilson, was inducted into the Hall that year. An all-NFC matchup was scheduled for 2011, but it was canceled due to the lockout; the following year, another intra-conference matchup of two NFC teams took its place. From 2011 onward, each team selected to play in the game has had at least one prominent alumnus being inducted into the Hall that year.
Since the Hall of Fame Game and the Hall of Fame induction ceremony are scheduled for the weekend before the normal NFL preseason season starts, both teams end up playing an additional exhibition game compared to the remaining teams in the league (formerly four, three as of 2021).
The last four expansion teams added to the league all played in the Hall of Fame Game as their first game. In 1995, expansion clubs Jacksonville and Carolina played each other, and Houston appeared in 2002. When the new Cleveland Browns returned to the league in 1999 with a rebooted roster, they played in the Hall of Fame Game.
The Baltimore Ravens, officially established in 1996 as a result of the Browns' relocation, did not play in the Hall of Fame Game until 2018. With the Ravens' participation, all 32 current NFL teams have at least one appearance.
Prior to the AFL–NFL merger, the Hall of Fame Game was played in August or September, in some cases at the end of the preseason. In 1970, it was moved to the beginning of the preseason. Prior to 2001, it was not uncommon for the game to be played in July. Since 2001, when the league permanently moved the start of the season to the weekend after Labor Day, the game has always been played in early August. In 2002, the Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremony was moved from the steps of the museum to the football stadium. This created a tight schedule between the ceremony and the game.
The 2011 game was originally scheduled between the St. Louis Rams and the Chicago Bears, but the game was canceled due to an ongoing labor dispute that had disrupted nearly all league activity during the 2011 offseason. The two clubs had set a deadline of July 22 to ratify a resolution in enough time to prepare for the game. The league and players did not ratify the agreement until July 25, forcing cancellation of the game.
The 2016 edition, which was scheduled to be played between the Green Bay Packers and the Indianapolis Colts, was canceled at the last minute due to unsafe playing conditions. Mike Silver of NFL.com reported that on the morning of game day, it was discovered the logos at midfield and the end zones had been painted using paint which was not intended for use on the newly-installed synthetic FieldTurf. Subsequently, the paint had not fully dried, and officials heated the field to speed up the drying process, causing its rubber infill to melt; the affected areas were described as being slick and "like cement," making it impossible to get decent footing. Stadium officials attempted to address this by applying paint thinner to the turf, but a Packers employee noticed a label warning that this substance could result in burns when exposed to skin, and alerted them to the discovery. In deciding to cancel the game, the league and the Players Association cited safety concerns.
Both teams were told at 6:40 p.m. EDT, eighty minutes before kickoff, that the game was going to be canceled. However, fans in the stadium only learned of the pending cancellation via social media, and no official announcement was made until just before the scheduled 8 p.m. kickoff, which was greeted by boos and jeering.
The next year in 2017, the game was moved to Thursday night, making it the first event of the Hall of Fame weekend. This change has been maintained since. Holding the game prior to the ceremony allows for safer field conditions. Immediately following the game, the stage and seating area for the Hall of Fame ceremony are erected in the stadium.
The game in 2020—which was scheduled to be played between the Dallas Cowboys and the Pittsburgh Steelers—as well as all other preseason games, was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The matchup was held over for the 2021 game.
Television and radio
Unlike the majority of NFL preseason games, which air on local television stations, the Hall of Fame Game airs nationwide. From 1999 to 2005, the game was held on Monday night, televised as part of ABC's Monday Night Football package. It had previously been held typically on Saturday afternoons, except from 1963 to 1965 on Sunday afternoons, televised as part of ABC's Wide World of Sports package (still using the MNF crew). In 1998, the game was put in the MNF package, and played on a Saturday night, which served as a test run for the move to Monday night.
Since 2006, the game has largely aired on NBC as part of the Sunday Night Football package (which replaced MNF as the NFL's flagship primetime broadcast that season), except in 2007 (due to NBC planning to air the China Bowl preseason game in Beijing, which was postponed and ultimately cancelled), and in all Summer Olympics years (2008, 2012, 2016, 2021, 2024, 2028 and 2032) due to NBC's coverage of the Games. In these years, the game has been sold to one of the NFL's other media partners, such as NFL Network (under Thursday Night Football), ESPN (under the current iteration of Monday Night Football), and most recently Fox.
- 2021 (FOX) Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Erin Andrews, and Tom Rinaldi
- 2022 (NBC) Mike Tirico, Cris Collinsworth, and Melissa Stark
- ^ The 1980 game was called with 5:29 remaining in the fourth quarter due to severe lightning.
- ^ The 2003 game was called with 5:49 remaining in the third quarter due to severe lightning.
- ^ The 2011 game was scheduled to be the St. Louis Rams versus the Chicago Bears, but was canceled due to the NFL lockout.
- ^ The 2016 game was scheduled to be the Green Bay Packers versus the Indianapolis Colts, but was canceled due to poor field conditions.
- ^ The 2020 game was scheduled to be the Dallas Cowboys versus the Pittsburgh Steelers, but was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
|New York Giants||5||3||1||1||.700||2014|
|New Orleans Saints||5||2||3||0||.400||2012|
|Arizona/St. Louis Cardinals||5||1||3||1||.300||2017|
|Green Bay Packers||4||1||2||1||.375||2003|
|Las Vegas/Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders||4||4||0||0||1.000||2022|
|New England Patriots||3||2||1||0||.667||2000|
|San Francisco 49ers||3||2||1||0||.667||2000|
|Los Angeles/St. Louis Rams||3||2||1||0||.667||2001|
|Kansas City Chiefs||3||2||1||0||.667||2003|
|Tennessee Titans/Houston Oilers||3||1||2||0||.333||2009|
|New York Jets||2||1||1||0||.500||1992|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||2||1||1||0||.500||1998|
|Los Angeles/San Diego Chargers||2||0||1||1||.250||1994|
- Most appearances
- 7 – Dallas Cowboys (1968, 1979, 1999, 2010, 2013, 2017, 2021)
- 7 – Pittsburgh Steelers (1963, 1964, 1983, 1998, 2007, 2015, and 2021)
- Fewest appearances
- 1 – Baltimore Ravens (2018)
- 1 – Carolina Panthers (1995)
- 1 – Houston Texans (2002)
- Most wins
- 5 – Washington Redskins/Commanders (1965, 1975, 1989, 2004, 2008)
- Longest active streak without Hall of Fame Game appearance
- 31 seasons – Detroit Lions (last appearance in 1991)
- 30 seasons – New York Jets (1992)
- 28 seasons – San Diego/Los Angeles Chargers (1994)
- 27 seasons – Carolina Panthers (1995)
- ^ "Hall of Fame Resort & Entertainment Company Announces New Brand and Identity for Its Sports & Entertainment Destination Resort".
- ^ "Hall of Fame ceremonies held at Canton". Youngstown Vindicator. (Ohio). Associated Press. August 11, 1962. p. 8.
- ^ a b "Cards tie Giants, 21-21, in Hall of Fame Game". Toledo Blade. (Ohio). Associated Press. August 12, 1962. p. 6.
- ^ "Individual Tickets & Festival Fan Packages". Profootballhof.com. Archived from the original on September 10, 2012. Retrieved September 28, 2012.
- ^ Silver, Mike (August 4, 2016). "Hall of Fame Game cancellation: NFL made the right decision". NFL.com.
- ^ Demovsky, Rob (August 7, 2016). "Field conditions force cancellation of preseason Hall of Fame Game". ESPN.com. Retrieved August 7, 2016.
- ^ "Hall of Fame Game fiasco: How the wrong paint, melted rubber, and caustic paint thinner nixed Packers-Colts". Acme Packing Company (SBNation). Vox Media. Retrieved August 10, 2016.
- ^ Doyel, Gregg (August 7, 2016). "Doyel: NFL fans deserve better". The Indianapolis Star.
- ^ "Hall of Fame game moved to Thursday night to start preseason". ESPN.com. December 28, 2016. Retrieved January 22, 2020.
- ^ "What we learned from Broncos-Falcons in HOF Game". NFL.com. Retrieved January 22, 2020.
- ^ Smith, Michael David (June 25, 2020). "Hall of Fame Game canceled". ProFootballTalk.
- ^ Kilgore, Adam. "After 256 games and a few close calls, the NFL's pandemic regular season comes to an end". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved January 5, 2021.
- ^ Staff, S. V. G. "Ratings Roundup: NBC Receives Least Watched Olympics in Primetime; NFL Hall of Fame Game Becomes Most-Watched Preseason Bout in Four Years". Sports Video Group. Retrieved September 10, 2021.
- 2006 NFL Record and Fact Book. July 25, 2006. p. 401. ISBN 1-933405-32-5.
- "AFC-NFC Hall of Fame Game". Pro Football Hall of Fame. Archived from the original on September 4, 2006. Retrieved September 8, 2006.
- 1962 establishments in Ohio
- American football in Ohio
- Annual sporting events in the United States
- National Football League competitions
- National Football League exhibition season
- Pro Football Hall of Fame
- Recurring sporting events established in 1962
- Sports in Canton, Ohio
- NFL on NBC
- American Broadcasting Company original programming
- ABC Sports
- ESPN original programming
- NBC original programming