Preview: 'Gridiron Glory' exhibition brings football history to the History Center


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Down, set, hike!

An exhibition called "Gridiron Glory: The Best of the Pro Football Hall of Fame" is heading out on a national tour, and guess where it's starting?

You got it -- Steelers Country.

It makes its national premiere Saturday at the Senator John Heinz History Center in the Strip, focusing on the history of pro football from its humble beginnings in 1892 right up to the present day of ... concussions and replacement refs (well, not those things specifically).

'Gridiron Glory'

Where: Senator John Heinz History Center, 1212 Smallman St., Strip District.

When: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily beginning Saturday.

Admission: $15; $13 seniors (ages 62 and up); $10 students and children (ages 6-17); free for children (5 and under); www.showclix.com; 1-888-71-TICKETS; www.heinzhistorycenter.org.

"Gridiron Glory" is billed as "the most comprehensive traveling exhibit ever created on America's most popular sport." It will feature more than 200 football artifacts and rare photos from the Pro Football Hall of Fame collection.

Included among those are:

• The 1892 Allegheny Athletic Association accounting ledger featuring Pudge Heffelfinger, known as "Pro Football's Birth Certificate."

• Artifacts from pro football's pioneers such as Jim Thorpe, Knute Rockne, Red Grange, Sammy Baugh and Bobby Layne.

• Items from record-breaking quarterbacks, including John Elway, Joe Montana and Dan Marino.

• Artifacts from the golden era of pro football, including Jim Brown, Vince Lombardi, Dick Butkus and Johnny Unitas.

• Highlights from the NFL's greatest running backs.

• Items from today's stars, including Tom Brady and Peyton Manning.

• The History Center will add a special section to the exhibition that features unique artifacts from the Pittsburgh Steelers, including Franco Harris' Hall of Fame jacket.

"This jacket has a lot of meaning to me," Mr. Harris told the PG. "To me it's the summation of everything that we achieved during our time."

It opens on Saturday with the Gridiron Glory Kickoff and Pep Rally from 10 a.m.-noon. featuring a free family-friendly tailgate outside.

"It should be a lot of fun -- pep bands, Steelers Hall of Famers, the Steelerettes, Terrible Fan mascot, Steely McBeam, etc., all culminating with a field goal kick by Pittsburgh Power player Mike Washington through our Three Rivers Stadium goalposts outside of the History Center," says Ned Schano, the Center's director of communications.

The History Center has assembled a lineup of special events in conjunction with the exhibition:

Tonight: Black Tie Tailgate Preview Party: 6-10 p.m. $250-$500.

Saturday: Gridiron Glory Kickoff and Pep Rally: 10 a.m.-noon.

Oct. 24-29: Steelers' Hall of Fame Busts: View all 22 of the Steelers' Hall of Fame busts, on loan from the Hall.

Nov. 11: NFL Play 60 Training Camp: 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Test your football skills with drills developed by the NFL Play 60 to help encourage an active and healthy lifestyle. Take a crash course in the Football 101 session, taught by local coaches. Learn about new trends in sports nutrition, safety and fitness from local athletes.

Nov. 17: Pittsburgh Steelers 80th Season Celebration: Special public event featuring Steelers alumni.

Nov. 23-29: Steelers' Six Super Bowl Trophies: Take your photo alongside the Lombardi trophies from all six of the Steelers' Super Bowl victories.

Dec. 22: An Immaculate Reception: The 40th Anniversary of the NFL's Greatest Play: Events will include the screening of a new NFL Films documentary along with special appearances by former Steelers involved in the play, including Franco Harris and John "Frenchy" Fuqua.

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