By Don Lund
I went to the College Football Hall of Fame about 10 years ago and thought it would be fun to check out the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
I’ve been planning the road trip to Canton, Ohio, for a few years and a couple of weeks ago finally pulled the trigger.
Two of my homeboys, Tim Nolte and Kirk Neustrom, loaded up my car with refreshments, reading material and tunes on Sunday, June 5, and hit the road. It was a 590-mile, nine-hour journey. It probably would have been eight hours except for the road construction in Illinois (not one of our favorite states).
We pulled into Canton around 7:30 p.m. our time, 8:30 Eastern, unloaded the car, cleaned up and went to a sports bar to watch the NBA finals.
It wasn’t surprising to find 95 percent of the fans in the bar were rooting for the Dallas Mavericks or rooting against former Cleveland Cavalier LeBron James.
The Miami Heat won that night, but Dallas took the series and most Ohio fans are happy.
I went to the College Football Hall of Fame with Kelly Neustrom, Kirk’s brother, and thought it was good, but the Pro Hall had a lot more lights, cameras and action.
The Hall opened at 9 a.m. and we were the second ones to enter.
It started slow with the new inductees on the wall including Richard Dent, a defensive end from my favorite team– the Chicago Bears.
We walked up a circular ramp and the fun began.
You could find your favorite team and look at all the Hall of Fame players. Then you could pick one and get the video highlights.
I went to the Bears and clicked on Gale Sayers, Dick Butkus and my main man– Walter Payton.
Tim likes the Packers so he checked out his guy, Brett Favre.
Kirk likes everybody so he was just floating around with a happy face.
There was so much stuff to see and a lot of videos so it took over an hour to see most everything.
We got through and I said to the guys, “Let’s back up and see it again.”
They agreed and we did an instant replay.
I was a little surprised to find out with all the great football players the Iowa Hawkeyes have had that played pro ball, only three were in the Hall of Fame– Emlen Tunnell, Paul Krause and Andre Tippett.
Emlen was inducted into the Hall in 1967. He played for the Hawkeyes in 1946 after two years in the United States Coast Guard in World War II.
Emlen played quarterback, halfback and defense for the Hawks in 1946 and 1947. He led the team in passing in 1946 and receiving during the 1947 season.
Emlen left Iowa before the 1948 season to join the New York Giants where he was the first African-American to play for the Giants.
Emlen played 14 years in the NFL, the first 11 for the Giants and the last three for the Green Bay Packers.
He was a nine-time Pro Bowl selection and ended his career as the all-time leader in interceptions with 79 (that record was broken by Paul Krause).
Emlen was the first African-American elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1967.
He was a scout and assistant coach for the Giants when he died from a heart attack during a summer practice in 1975.
Paul Krause was a three-year letterman at Iowa from 1961-63. He started at wide receiver and defensive back.
When Paul was a senior he tied an Iowa record with six touchdown receptions for the season.
Krause also played baseball for the Hawks. As a sophomore, he was an All-American and was drafted by the major leagues. He injured his shoulder his junior year in football and gave up baseball.
Paul was drafted in the second round of the 1964 NFL draft by the Washington Redskins. In his rookie season, he led the NFL with 12 interceptions and was named first team all-pro. He also was selected to his first of eight Pro Bowls and was second to his teammate Charlie Taylor for NFL Rookie of the Year.
Paul was traded to the Minnesota Vikings in 1968 and played in four Super Bowls. I actually liked the Vikings at that time.
Paul holds the all-time interception record with 81, scoring three touchdowns on the picks. He was inducted into the Hall in 1998.
Paul and his wife Pam are living in Minnesota, where they own several restaurants.
The final Hawkeye in the Hall is Andre Tippett, who I saw play at Kinnick in 1981.
Andre started out at Ellsworth Community College after prepping in New Jersey.
Tippett was a three-year letterman for the Hawkeyes from 1979 to 1981.
Andre was a two-time All-Big Ten selection in 1980-81 and was named first team All-American at defensive end in 1981.
That was the year the Hawkeyes had their first winning season in 20 years.
The Hawks also won the Big Ten and went to the Rose Bowl for the first time since 1959.
Andre was part of an Iowa defense, which included Bobby Stoops and Mel Cole, that allowed only 89.6 rushing yards per game, the best in school history.
Tippett was drafted in the second round by the New England Patriots in 1982.
Andre was named the AFC’s Linebacker of the Year three straight seasons from 1985-87.
Andre played in the Super Bowl against the Chicago Bears in 1985.
I not only saw Andre play at Iowa but went to a Bears game in 1985 when Chicago beat New England 20-7.
Andre currently is the Patriots Executive Director of Community Affairs.
Some pretty impressive players from the Hawkeyes with some pretty impressive stats.
It was a great trip to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. I definitely would keep an open mind about going back… what do you think, Kirk and Tim?
Next week…Prime Time.