15 Bucket List Experiences for Football Fans
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NFL Hall of Fame
Canton, Ohio, is the birthplace of the National Football League and home to the Pro Football Hall of Fame where the legends of the game are enshrined. Opened in 1963, the hall welcomed 17 members originally and has grown to 303 members with the 2016 class. Inside, visitors can view bronze bust sculptures of each inductee as well as explore interactive exhibits and game-used memorabilia. If you’re going to go, we recommend you visit during the enshrinement ceremony in August when the new class of inductees don their gold jackets and deliver heart-felt speeches.
College Football Hall of Fame
From the moment you start your journey through the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta, Georgia, visitors are immersed in a football experience like no other. From the 45-yard replica football field to the helmet wall featuring more than 700 college football helmets to the ultra-high definition Game Day Theater, the history of the game is told in so many different ways and it’s truly a one-of-a-kind experience.
In today’s NFL, where billion dollar stadiums with the latest technology are all the rage, there’s one stadium still holding on to tradition. Opened in 1957, Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin, is old-school football at its best. Sellout crowds pack the stadium, even in sub-zero temperatures, to cheer on the four-time champion Packers. The atmosphere alone is worth a trip to the NFL’s smallest city. Just don’t forget your cheesehead hat.
Army vs. Navy
On the second Saturday in December, the Army Black Knights and Navy Midshipmen renew their annual rivalry in one of the most anticipated college football games of the season. The location of the game varies (Baltimore hosted the most recent edition) but the atmosphere is always electric. Sitting presidents frequently attend and the pre-game pageantry featuring the Brigade of Midshipmen and the Corps of Cadets marching into the stadium is enough to leave goosebumps.
The Rose Bowl
Nicknamed “The Granddaddy of Them All,” the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, is the oldest bowl game in college football. First played in 1902 and then annually starting in 1916, the Rose Bowl typically hosts the winner of the Big Ten and Pac-12 conferences but since 2015, the venue has alternated hosting a semi-final game of the College Football Playoff. The 92,542 seat stadium is the largest stadium to hose post-season bowl games and San Gabriel Mountains off in the distance make it one of the most picturesque, too.
The Iron Bowl
Very few rivalries in sports match the intensity of the Iron Bowl. Every year, typically on Thanksgiving weekend, the University of Alabama and Auburn University take to the gridiron with state bragging rights and so much more on the line. Both the Crimson Tide and Tigers are among the winningest programs in the country so the winner has a great opportunity to go on and compete for the Southeastern Conference Championship and potentially win a national championship.
Ohio State vs. Michigan
Known as “The Game,” Ohio State University vs. University of Michigan renew their bitter rivalry every season in a contest that typically has post-season implications. The Midwestern powerhouses are two of the most decorated programs in the country and their unique traditions, such as Michigan’s “Go Blue” banner and the O-H-I-O chant of Ohio State, make attending this game in either Ann Arbor or Columbus truly one-of-a-kind experience.
Baltimore's Marching Ravens
Formed in 1947, the Baltimore Colts’ Marching Band (later renamed Baltimore’s Marching Ravens) are one of only two official marching bands in the entire NFL. Besides being great to watch live, what makes this band special is when the Colts franchise moved to Indianapolis in 1984, the band stayed together and continued to perform despite not having a team to call their own. They fought for a football franchise over the next decade and were instrumental in helping to bring the Cleveland Browns to Baltimore in 1996.
Notre Dame Stadium
Opened in 1930, Notre Dame Stadium in Indiana has been the stage for some of the most memorable moments in college football history. With their iconic fight song playing throughout the game and “Touchdown Jesus” (a large memorial entitled The Word of Life) looking on from just outside the stadium, attending a Fighting Irish home game is a must for any football fan.
Vince Lombardi Gravesite
Vincent Thomas Lombardi passed away on September 3, 1970, but his legacy lives on to this day. Best known as the coach for the Green Bay Packers from 1959 to 1967, Lombardi won the first two Super Bowls and finished with an overall record of 105-35-6. Lombardi, widely considered the greatest coach in the history of the NFL, is buried at Mount Olivet Cemetery in Middletown, New Jersey.
Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum
The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum opened in 1923 and has played host to countless historic moments throughout its history. It was the site of the very first NFL-AFL Championship Game (Super Bowl) in 1967 and it’s also the only stadium to host two Summer Olympic Games (1932 and 1984). The Coliseum is the home of the University of Southern California Trojans as well as the temporary home of the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams.
The Jacksonville Jaguars may not be one of the preeminent franchises in the NFL but their stadium is noteworthy for one very large reason. EverBank Field boasts the largest video board in the NFL at a staggering 60 feet high, 362 feet long and powered by 35.5 million LED bulbs. In-game highlights never looked so good.
The 1958 National Football League Championship Game between the Baltimore Colts and the New York Giants is often referred to as “The Greatest Game Ever Played.” The game was nationally televised and the popularity football enjoys today can be traced back to Baltimore’s 23-17 overtime victory at Yankee Stadium in New York. The original Yankee Stadium was demolished in 2010 and a park complex called Heritage Field now sits in its place. Heritage Field will never be Yankee Stadium but it sits on hallowed ground.
Pat Tillman Memorial
In the wake of the September 11 attacks, Arizona Cardinals defender Pat Tillman made the ultimate sacrifice. Turning down a lucrative $3.6 million contract after the 2001 season, Tillman chose to enlist in the U.S. Army and serve his country instead. While deployed in Afghanistan in 2004, Tillman was killed in combat. The Cardinals honored his memory in many ways, including naming the plaza outside their stadium in Glendale, Arizona, after him and constructing a bronze statue in his honor.
The Super Bowl
The Super Bowl is more than just a football game – it’s a cultural moment in history that is watched by millions around the world. Unlike most sports where a best of seven series decides the champion, the Super Bowl is a winner-take-all spectacle where emotion and passion collide. Even if you’re not a fan of the teams playing, the national anthem and halftime performances alone are worth the price of admission.