(Mel Blount photo courtesy of the Pittsburgh Steelers)
Talk of Fame Network
It flew under the radar last week, but the union of the Black College Football Hall of Fame with the Pro Football Hall of Fame is a big deal.
Ask anyone involved.
OK, so we did. We contacted Hall-of-Fame defensive back Mel Blount, who sits on the board of trustees of the Black College Hall of Fame and is one of its inductees, to get his take on how important this move was.
His answer: Very.
“We had been looking for several years looking for a permanent home,” Blount said on the latest Talk of Fame Network broadcast. “We talked to other HBS (Historically Black Schools) schools. We talked to people in Atlanta about buildings that were available. It’s just amazing how things worked out. We also talked to the College Football Hall of Fame.
“There’s something special happening with the Pro Football Hall of Fame right now. We’ve got a tremendous … and I really mean this … a tremendous leader in David Baker. (He's) a visionary, a guy who can get things done. He’s a smart guy. He’s committed. And when we went to him with this idea, it was like a no-brainer. He thought it was a great idea. (He) went back and talked to board members there at the Hall of Fame, and they agreed to house us there.
“I think it’s good for us, not only for the Black College Hall of Fame, but it’s good for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Because if you take away all the contributors that are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and just look at the players … 10 percent of the players come from historically black colleges. And that’s a tremendous accomplishment and tremendous statement to be said.”
The Black College Hall of Fame is the brainchild of former NFL quarterbacks Doug Williams and James “Shack” Harris, who founded it in 2009 to honor the greatest football players, coaches and contributors at historically black colleges and universities. There are 64 inductees, including Blount, Williams, Harris and Hall-of-Famers like Art Shell, Jerry Rice, Lem Barney, Willie Brown, Walter Payton, Willie Davis and Willie Lanier.
But those guys you know about. There are plenty of others you don’t … and having the Black College Football Hall of Fame in Canton will change that – especially with consultants projecting 3 million annual visitors when the Hall completes its $500 million redevelopment project in 2019.
“We’re excited to be where we are,” said Blount, “but it's been a journey up to this point, and I’m sure the journey will continue. But we’re blessed to be able to have that relationship with the Pro Football Hall of Fame and to be able to realize some of the dreams and the vision that these gentlemen – ‘Shack’ and Doug Williams -- have. And that's to honor the guys who played at these historically black colleges and also to help other kids who are coming along and recognize people who have made contributions. ”