It has been a busy week at the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame as preparations continue for a new exhibit, “Pro Football and the American Spirit.” The exhibit, which opens this Friday, Oct. 15, will pay tribute to the 1,200 NFL players and coaches who have interrupted their football careers to answer the call of duty and serve their country.

The Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame will be just the third NFL establishment to showcase the “Pro Football and the American Spirit” exhibit, which is made possible through the sponsorship of Oshkosh Defense, a producer of armored vehicles and technologies designed to protect America’s service men and women.

And while the Packers have little problem attracting fans to their 25,000 square-foot exhibit, it is their hope this exhibit will keep their guests returning while rightfully honoring these men.

“We really wanted to bring in new things for our guests to see,” said Krissy Zegers, Packers Hall of Fame and Stadium Tour manager. “We want to give them a reason to come back here, create repeat visitors while also bringing in new fans. It is our hope that we draw in people from not only a sports perspective but from all crowds.”

Since its creation, Pro Football and the American Spirit has been well-received throughout its travels and has Jason Aikens, collections curator for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, confident in the longevity the exhibit holds.

“So far, Pro Football and the American Spirit has been a success at its other stops throughout the country,” Aikens said. “It really is impactful – seeing all the players’ contributions over the years and what many of them have done outside of football. It has definitely been one of our most meaningful exhibits.

“We want this exhibit to reach as many people as we can to pay tribute to all the contributions these players and coaches have made.”

The exhibit will share the stories of 1,200 players, coaches and other NFL members who put their love for the game on hold to serve our country. Through different videos, artifacts, jerseys, helmets, etc., both football fans and spectators will get a better understanding of the lives these men led in sake of their country.

On the display that lists the names of those NFL members, Packers fans will take note of Tony Canadeo and Paul Hornung, two former Packers who served. Current Packers linebacker Clay Matthews even has a tie, with his grandfather, Clay Matthews Sr., listed as a World War II veteran.

And With Veteran’s Day just around the corner and the Packers’ tribute to military personnel during its matchup with the Dallas Cowboys Nov. 7, Zegers believes the exhibit will be a great tie-in to these events.
If well-received, it is Zegers’ hope that the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame will bring in future exhibits for their fans to see.

“Over the next few years, we are looking to bring in two to three different traveling exhibits a year so guests get to come in and see something new – and not only Packers memorabilia,” Zegers said.

“We have a pretty good relationship with the Pro Football Hall of Fame and we have been exploring different options to make the space more changeable, for other potential exhibits. “

And after just one day of construction, the exhibit was already looking impressive, and is sure to be a treat for all to see.

“Pro Football and the American Spirit” will be open to the public beginning Friday Oct. 15, and will be on display through Jan. 9, 2011.

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Click here to view photos of the exhibit's grand opening

Click here for details on admission/hours