Gridiron Glory Comes To Tacoma

A little piece of Canton, Ohio is in Tacoma this summer. Gridiron Glory, a touring exhibit of Canton’s Pro Football Hall of Fame, is at the Washington State History Museum from May 27-Sept. 10.

With more than 200 artifacts, several interactive exhibits, and rare NFL video footage, Gridiron Glory is a football fan’s paradise. There are artifacts from every legend from Jim Thorpe to Peyton Manning.

There are objects such as the oldest football trophy from 1900, John Elway’s jersey, and Bill Belicheck’s playbook.

“All the objects are telling a story, not only of football, but a story of us,” said Mary Mikel Stump, the museum’s director of audience engagement.

A Seattle Seahawks Super Bowl ring. Photo by Karen Miller

And yes, of course, there’s a Seahawks section. From opening weekend until early June, the Seahawks Lombardi trophy and Super Bowl ring is on display, courtesy of a loan from MOPOP in Seattle.

The section is especially poignant in the wake of former Seahawk Cortez Kennedy’s death on May 23. The Hall of Famer’s cleats are in the exhibit.

Overall, the 6,000-square-foot exhibition is divided into several sections that incorporate objects, videos, and interactives. For example, one section has a “you make the call” type interactive that puts visitors in the place of a referee. Using video footage, visitors determine if a call should be upheld or reversed.

Through football, the exhibit also tells the story of American history, with ties to how the Great Depression and World War II affected the game. There’s also a section named “The Road to Equality” about the inspirational rise of black athletes and coaches.

“Our mission is to connect people through history,” said Stump.

And it’s not just about the past, it’s about the future, too. “The Science of Football” is a section devoted to the science and technology being developed to change the game.

The exhibit kicks off with a VIP preview from 6-8:30 p.m. May 25 at the museum. Hosted along with the Tacoma Athletic Commission, the ticketed event will offer a first-look of the exhibit.

The museum also will be presenting events through the summer about the history of football, including:

  • Friday Football Flick, Brian’s Song, 7 p.m. June 23. A 1970s film staring James Caan and Billy Dee Williams that tells the story of Brian Piccolo and Gale Sayers.
  • Football 360: An All Angles Look at the NFL Experience, 7 p.m. June 29. A panel discussion that explores what it’s like to be part of pro football. Learn about getting drafted, playing on a team, trading, working out, and refereeing.
  • Two Pint Conversions, 7-10 p.m. July 13.  An adults-only tailgate party at the museum with indoor lawn games and activities. Tickets include two beverages from a local brewery.
  • Friday Football Flick, Invincible, 9 p.m. July 28. The story of Vince Papale, a lifelong fan who becomes a Philidelphia Eagle. The movie will be shown in the outdoor amphitheater.
  • Gridiron Gauntlet: An NFL Youth Combine Day, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Aug. 5. The combine will put kids through a NFL draft-style test. The event is free.
  • To the Limit: Health and Safety in a High-Impact Game, 7 p.m., Sept. 7. A panel focused on the evolution of sports safety, with a focus on football.
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is a staff writer at South Sound magazine. Email her.
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