Don’t underestimate the third element of the Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremonies.
The ring is the thing.
“What’s special about the ring is it’s given to them in their stadium in front of their fans,’’ David Baker, president of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, said in a phone interview with 9News this week.
The Gold Jacket and the bronze bust were presented in Canton, Ohio, site of the Pro Football Hall of Fame museum on August 2-3. Baker will present the Hall of Fame rings to former Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey and family members of the team’s late owner Pat Bowlen at halftime of Denver’s game Sunday against the Tennessee Titans at Empower Field at Mile High.
Bowlen died June 13 from complications of Alzheimer’s disease. Because Bowlen was living at the time he was elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, he is the first posthumous inductee to have received his Gold Jacket.
Kay’s Jewelers spent 11 weeks designing and constructing the rings that feature the Hall of Famers’ busts on the side and Hall of Fame member numbers in the middle. Champ is No. 319; Mr. B is No. 320.
“There is only one like each of them in the world,’’ Baker said.
The Broncos have custom-built a display case that will hold Bowlen’s Gold Jacket and ring in the front lobby of the team’s UCHealth Training Center headquarters.
“What’s pretty unique is this has a feel that it’s not just for Pat and not just for his family who I thought did a wonderful job of coming together around this but I think it’s also for the entire city,’’ Baker said. “He was such a humble guy, he would this to be about everybody else.”
In fact, Baker was speaking to 9News at the same time Denver mayor Michael Hancock proclaimed Wednesday, October 9 as "Pat Bowlen Day."
It’s only right that Bailey went into the Pro Football Hall of Fame with the Broncos’ owner. Pat Bowlen so loved the cornerback his team acquired in a trade with Washington prior to the 2004 season, he named his dog Champ.
And Champ is still living the good ol’ dog life, according to Brittany Bowlen, one of Pat’s daughters who is in Germany for leadership training with McKinsey & Co. and won’t be able to attend Friday night’s Ring of Fame ceremony for Bailey – although she will be at the stadium for her father’s ring ceremony Sunday.
“He’s a fierce competitor but he is also a very, very good guy,’’ Baker said of Bailey. “I think it’s wonderful that Champ is going in with Pat. You are probably familiar with the story Pat named his dog after Champ. Pat always loved how Champ competed. He’s a good guy and I think he’s going to be a great Hall of Famer for a long time to come.”
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