[Note by Skin Patrol, 08/05/08 9:09 AM EDT ] Many thanks to CptChaosSidekick for posting his Canton thoughts here at Hogs Haven. Edited a bit, enjoy.
Friday August, 1st, the day before I was to fly to Canton early in the morning; I celebrated that night as I could not contain my excitement for the upcoming trip.
Very early Saturday morning I woke up, vision blurred and my skull feeling like it was caving in, I began my journey to Canton. My girlfriend, who was my ride to the airport early the fateful day, was briefed prior that if she dragged her feet to get me to my plane I would in fact turn into a mythical beast (Ed note: not unlike Chris Horton). To her credit she proved her worth as a sky cab.
My first stop from departing Harrisburg, Pa was Detroit, Mi. I thought: how should I make this hour plus layover go by when I saw two women in Redskins gear at a Martini Bar. I promptly seated myself next to them, and upon further observations noticed that they were already drinking. My type of people. I had two beers with them and in the process came to learn that they were on their way to Canton without their husbands and they were most knowledgeable about football too. Extra Point: they were hella milftastic. Early quote of the day, in a day filled with quotes: It's not fun unless it's a double was the reply to a bartender who asked what kind of Bloody Mary they wanted. We boarded together bound for Canton. I fell asleep with their drunken laughs in the background.
Canton! I landed and the first thing I see out of the gate is a massive HOF banner. This wasn't a dream anymore; Art Monk and Darrell Green were going to be HOF'ers that night. The first indication that I was heading into something much bigger then me, than every Redskins fan, hell even the milky way, is when the Cabbie looked at me, laughed and asked "Canton?" with a chuckle. I replied yes promptly. He noticed I had no luggage, so I informed him that my flight left the next day and I'd just party the night away until then. He assured me that I wouldn't have a problem finding some people to tag along with. I agreed although I had no idea the magnitude of what I was getting into.
The Hall: One foot out of the Cab at 11am 7hrs before the ceremony was to start and it was a tidal wave of Burgundy & Gold. Being where football was born combined with the fact that I knew it was going to be a Redskin day was almost too much to take in. I overheard the Canton police saying that they never seen anything like this before. After walking around heaven for awhile I took a cab to a restaurant were I was to meet up with some nice folks I had met on Redskinsheads.com. After some intros, and food we all meandered back to the HOF. Everywhere in Akron, Canton Ohio Redskins fans were in the streets, cars, bars and restaurants.
5 minutes of walking the hallowed grounds my group walked smack dab into Gary Clark and Ricky Sanders! (Ed Note: no pictures?) They signed everything possible and had every picture taken asked of them before the Canton VIP patrol whisked them away. They were awesome. Walking through memorabilia tents and not trying to make my credit score astronomical was a challenge.
Fawcett Stadium: was a living breathing Redskins pulse by the time I arrived. Enter the Mayor of Canton with opening remarks: Today is Washington Redskins day he proclaimed playing to a crowd as only a politician can, but fuck it, it was Washington Redskins day with or without his blessing. Chris Berman would mention anything Redskins related and the fans went wild -- alternatively Berman or someone else mentioned anything Dallas and that place got downright hostile. Michael Irvin became the epicenter of Redskins hatred of the Cowboys. He wizzed by in a cart to a seat on the stage, and a wave of Redskins nation crashed into him along the way. Fred Dean, Andre Tippet, Gary Zimmerman, and Emmitt Thomas all had great speeches and were politely welcomed into the HOF. An army of Redskins fans though were on edge for what we all had waited for for so very long...
Green was met with a loud, boisterous welcome. HOF Decon Jones places a bet every time this year on which inductee was going to cry first. Deacon Jones said I would cry. You bet your life I'm going to cry. You bet your life I'm going to cry. You bet your life, I will. His speech was uplifting and motivational. It concluded with something only a select few could say Can I tell you today at the expense of sounding real self-righteous, I belong here. I belong here. (Ed Note: He sure does.)
Art Monk was the last inductee to speak. I wondered the whole night what he might say. Monk was always soft spoken but he was the major: when he does speak people listen. Art Monk for some reason was passed over for selection time and again. What possible reaction will he get and how will it compare to Darrell's? Monk's son introduced him and the second Monk stepped to the mic, the dam that was emotion filled with Monk being passed over for years and erupted into what Mr. Irrelevant described best as the Ovation to End All Ovations. Seeing him up on the podium, soaking in the cheers from the sea of Redskins fans in the crowd, was simply fantastic. In the crazed croud I heard someone chant ART, ART and it spread through the stadium, then I heard one person yell IT's ABOUT TIME and with that a chant of IT's ABOUT TIME spread faster then a forest fire and was more deafening than WE WANT DALLAS. The ovation was so long, so passionate that the HOF'ers in their seats stood and clapped. Monk, by my count, tried four different times to begin his speech. After a while he stopped trying, paused looked down and then just soaked it all in. He deserved this and we the fans let him know how much we loved him and were going to celebrate the moment. For the rest of my life I'll remember this moment and have never in my existence been more proud to be a Redskins fan.
Long story short, Redskins nation brought Canton/Akron to her knees that night. Every bar & club was packed with us. I myself got hammered and woke up at the airport with time to spare for my flight. I felt like 32 bags of crap and the simplest tasks were hard to do. Although I left solo for this trip I was never really alone, Skins fans were one pulse, one entity. Would I do it again, you bet your life.
[Note by Skin Patrol, 08/05/08 9:20 AM EDT ] Closing gracias again to reader CptChaosSidekick for sharing his Canton experience. If anyone else was there make sure you get your narrative up in the FanPost section. Cheers, big week for Redskins Nation.