In its 11th year, the Kentucky Pro Football Hall of Fame will welcome brand-new festivities to its star-studded ceremony, heightening fan interaction with legendary players and coaches of the sport.
On Feb. 1, Frank Minnifield, executive director of the Kentucky Pro Football Hall of Fame, announced the unique approach planned for the Hall of Fame weekend, including a ring ceremony and the Game Day Live Preview at Fourth Street Live! The free, public event on June 27 will offer a glimpse of Game Day Spectacular, the official induction ceremony for this year’s honorees.
The 2013 Hall of Fame inductees include Irv Goode, Lander McCoy “Coy” Bacon, Chad Bratzke, Roman Dissake Oben and Otis Wilson, former University of Louisville linebacker and Super Bowl champion with the 1985 Chicago Bears. “When I got the letter from Frank (Minnifield) and the committee … you can’t help but smile and be honored by that,” said Wilson, who attended Friday’s announcement at The Brown Hotel. “You look at the guys that went before you and the ones that go in with you, it’s good to be in that crowd. There’s some great athletes, and Frank is a great individual.”
Along with the Class of 2013, former Chicago Bears running back George McAfee will be honored during the June ceremony as a retroactive member of the Kentucky Pro Football Hall of Fame. Born in Corbin, Ky., McAfee was inducted into the 1966 class of the national Pro Football Hall of Fame long before the Kentucky Pro Football Hall of Fame’s establishment.
Finally, amongst the NFL accolades to be presented, the Blanton Collier Award for Integrity will be given to the Harbaugh family, consisting of NFL Head Coaches Jim and John Harbaugh, of the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens, respectively, as well as their father Jack, a former Western Kentucky University head coach.
Minnifield also revealed the All Commonwealth Collegiate Team on Friday, in addition to the Offensive and Defensive Player of the Year. University of Louisville star quarterback Teddy Bridgewater was named Co-Offensive Player of the Year alongside Larry Warford, an offensive lineman for the University of Kentucky. Zach Autenrieb of Thomas More College received the Defensive Player of the Year honor. “When you drill all the way down to it, our mission is to promote football. And so we need to promote football at Thomas More like we need to promote football at the University of Kentucky and at the University of Louisville and Eastern Kentucky,” Minnifield said of the defensive pick. “They’re all the same. They’ve got good football players, so we need to highlight that.”
UofL Head Football Coach Charlie Strong and new UK Head Coach Mark Stoops will take part in the Hall of Fame celebration as co-chairs of this year’s event. “As pro football players you kind of strip away University of Louisville, UK,” Minnifield said. “It’s more how can we help the next generation reach their dreams, and it’s not about trying to push one university in front of the other, it’s about trying to help the players.”
The induction ceremony in June will serve as a fundraiser benefitting the Kentucky Spinal Cord Injury Research Center at the University of Louisville. “We are a hidden jewel here at the University,” said Dr. Scott Whittemore, scientific director of the organization. “We have one of the world’s largest and most comprehensive spinal cord injury research centers that comprises clinical care and rehabilitation care and basic science in a way that is really unprecedented in the world. … What we see with the patients helps us design new experiments, and the support of the (Kentucky) Pro Football Hall of Fame is going to help that process move forward, and we truly appreciate (their) support.”
The purpose of the Kentucky Pro Football Hall of Fame is to appropriately honor those who have brought significant recognition to the state of Kentucky; have by their unusual successful service achieved significant accomplishment on behalf of their school; have by a significant act or contribution distinguished themselves as an unusual former National Football League player, coach, referee, owner or management; or have been a significant or unusual supporter of pro football. Kentucky is the only state to have its own Pro Football Hall of Fame.
The official 2013 induction ceremony – or Game Day Spectacular – will take place Friday, June 28, at the Louisville Palace, 625 S. Fourth St. The two-day celebration will also include a golf scramble at Seneca Golf Course, ring ceremony and other local activities. Tickets for the ceremony are $25, $50 or $75 and will be available online at a soon-to-be-announced date.
For more information, visit www.kyprofootballhof.org.