Historic visitor is Steelers fan

It can be considered part of the rite of passage for every NFL fan.

A visit to the Pro Football Hall of Fame is a way to connect with the history of the sport, a way for fans young and old to learn about, and to celebrate, the men and events that have made the National Football League what it is today.

Maybe that was why Bob and Kristen Duff decided on a visit to the Hall of Fame as a part of the family's vacation this summer, or maybe it had less to do with a history lesson and more to do about a day of fun for them and their sons, Joshua and Alex.

Whatever his parents' motive might have been, it's also a good bet that Alex, who wore a Super Bowl XLIII T-shirt that day to show his allegiance to the Pittsburgh Steelers, was most excited about seeing the exhibits honoring his favorite team.

Little did any of them know that they soon also would become part of the Hall of Fame's rich history.

It was 10-year-old Alex who became the Hall of Fame's 9 millionth visitor, when the Duff family filed through the turnstiles on Sunday, July 8.

In keeping with the significance of the event, Alex Duff was showered with prizes that included a lifetime pass to the Hall of Fame, a custom "9 million" T-shirt, a $1,000  gift card to the Hall of Fame store, and a copy of the new "Pro Football Hall of Fame 50th Anniversary Book: Where Greatness Lives."

In addition, the fifth grader at Dallastown Area Intermediate School will be featured on a commemorative football card produced by Panini, the official trading card of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

When asked to describe his new status as a Hall of Fame celebrity, Alex said, "Amazing."

According to the Hall of Fame, the timeline of milestone visitors is: 1 million – 1973; 2 million – 1976; 3 million – 1981; 4 million – 1984; 5 million – 1991; 6 million  – 1996; 7 million – 2001; 8 million – 2007.

The Pro Football Hall of Fame first opened its doors on Sept. 7, 1963.

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