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Pro Football Hall of Fame President David Baker: 'We’re Going to Do This'

Pro Football Hall of Fame president David Baker says of 2021 enshrinement weekend: “We’re going to do this.”

There was no hesitation in David Baker’s voice when asked the question not long after the 2021 class of the Pro Football Hall of Fame was recently revealed.

It also came only a few days after the Baseball Hall of Fame announced its summer celebration will be a television event held indoors.

Speaking on the Pro Football Hall of Fame show on SiriusXM NFL Radio, when asked about the Hall’s summer plans, Baker insisted, “The only way I know how to do this and the only way I think the good people of Canton know how to do this, are saying, 'We're going to do this.' We're getting ready. We're going to take every precaution, we're going to make everything safe. But we're going.”

Like the baseball enshrinement in Cooperstown, N.Y., the 2020 football ceremonies in Canton, Ohio, weren’t conducted because of COVID-19. It was especially disappointing for the football Hall because there were plans for events in August and September to celebrate a special Centennial Class of 20 enshrinees.

Now, the schedule calls for the Centennial Class to be enshrined on Saturday, Aug. 7 and this year’s eight-person class to follow on Sunday.

Prior to that will be the Hall of Fame Game on Thursday between the Dallas Cowboys and Pittsburgh Steelers and the emotional Gold Jacket dinner on Friday. Also notable is that four Steelers — Troy Polamalu, Alan Faneca (who played his final season for the Cardinals), Donnie Shell and Bill Nunn — along with two Cowboys (Drew Pearson and Cliff Harris) will be honored during the weekend.

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Baker believes the game itself will be special. He said, “I think there's a very good shot that we'll be the first full stadium for football in the United States in nearly two years. And, to me, that's going to be good for the rest of the country and for the football season ahead. It shows that we can get our economy going and our kids educated and make even more advances on health care. But we're going to be ready.”

The Hall has dubbed the long weekend “Twice the fun in ’21,” but he said, “I don’t think this is twice the fun in ’21, I think we’re going to change that phrase to 10 times the fun in ’21.”

He noted that the NFL draft will be “here in northeast Cleveland” and added, “I think that'll probably be 50 percent virtual and 50 percent in person. But I think by the time we get to August, we're gonna be ready to go. The vaccine is picking up, obviously the trend line is in the right direction right now. I think the NFL has a wonderful study that they did with the CDC that basically said that there wasn't one infection that could be traced to the 1.2 million people that went to a game.

“At the Pro Football Hall of Fame, we've got new technology that takes the temperature of as many as 70 people at a time as they go through the Hall. So there's a lot of things we can do. We got a great operational team. We're going to rely very heavily on the experts at the NFL.”

Baker often speaks about teamwork and he did that while reflecting on 2020.

“This has been an incredible season,” he said. “The NFL postponed some games. They played for the first time on Tuesday night or Wednesday night or Friday night for the first time ever. But they played 256 regular-season games, all the playoffs, the Super Bowl, and they got started on time and they ended on time. And for me when you think about it, everybody together.

“That's what we go do. We gotta just huddle up. We got to work together.”