From the Sidelines of the Hall of Fame Game
Aug 27, 2013
By Hanson Yang, Assistant Athletic Trainer/Physical Therapist – Dallas Cowboys
The Hall of Fame (HOF) Game, in Canton, Ohio, signals the start of the NFL’s new season. Two historic franchises, the Dallas Cowboys and the Miami Dolphins, played in this year’s game, and I was honored to take part in the festivities and experience the unbelievable history and tradition. The highlight of my trip was witnessing a former player and coach being inducted to the Hall prior to the game. As a member of the Dallas Cowboys organization, I was in awe of the connections being created between current and former coaches and players.
To help the players get acclimated to being on the road, preparation for the HOF Game was the same as any other. We traveled as a team to Canton a day early where treatments, taping times, team meetings, and walk-thru’s mimicked those of an actual away game. The only difference was after we landed, we were escorted to the HOF exhibit, allowing the players and staff to partake in the festivities.
Walking through the exhibit and seeing the history that has made the NFL as popular as it is today was a very special experience. The displays and newly renovated facilities made it evident that the committee puts a great deal of time and effort into making this memorable for all that attended. Personally, there were special moments all around: seeing players from both teams interact off the field; seeing memorabilia from the past and present; and seeing the shrines of the new HOF inductees. To make the experience richer, two former Cowboys were being inducted into the Hall: Larry Allen and Bill Parcells. The entire Dallas Cowboys organization was thrilled to finally celebrate these legends. What really caught my attention was the exhibit created in honor of past and present athletic trainers, displaying the importance of the profession. As an athletic trainer for the Dallas Cowboys, and having firsthand knowledge of the dedication required for this position, I was thoroughly grateful for the recognition of my predecessors. To be part of the festivities was an incredible experience, and we hadn’t even played, yet.
The HOF game has been played at the historical Fawcett Stadium for many years. Because it is a high school stadium, the facilities are smaller, adding another challenge to our new environment. The players and staff alike had to adapt to the confines of the space. From a medical perspective, we had to be creative in how we utilized the areas we were given, both in the locker room and on the field. The sidelines were small and crowded, and we really had to be more observant due to the circumstances. At kickoff, the crowd roared with excitement as the NFL’s new season began. I looked into the stands, amazed at the amount of Cowboys fans in attendance, even for such a small town. The support and cheers pushed the Cowboys to a joyous victory! It was an exciting game, but more importantly, no one was seriously injured. It was an exhausting trip but a great way to start the season.