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HOF staff has Greene ready to go

The questions were plentiful. The answers thorough. But despite it all, the first visit to the Pro Football Hall of Fame to prepare for his enshrinement this summer was overwhelming for former Steelers linebacker Kevin Greene.

Kevin Greene and his wife Tara visit the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.

But when all was said and done, after two days of tours and meetings, he left Canton with a much greater understanding of what to expect in August and that was the exact purpose of the trip for him and his wife Tara.

"This is to help them get a picture of what this is going to be," said David Baker, the president of the Hall of Fame. "What it's going to be like at the civic center when they get their Gold Jacket. What it's like when they are on the stage for the Enshrinement or in the parade. It's our job to protect their legacy for the rest of their lives. In football terms, it's the walkthrough. They get a feel for it." Tammy Owens and Michelle Norris, who are the directors of Gold Jacket relations, will handle all of the details for members of the Class of 2016, from accommodations, to tickets, and everything in between. But it doesn't stop there. The entire Hall of Fame staff plays a role, from helping with their speech, to interviews, and every little detail.

"We meet them at the Super Bowl when they are first announced and it's hard to explain to them on paper, or when we talk, just what this is like," said Owens. "It's so important we bring them here and do a site inspection so they can see the area, see where the hotels are, see the civic center, where their friends and family will be. It's important they see the Hall ahead of time. When they are here they don't get to see the Hall. It's good we have this time with them.

"The wives do all of the work, not some of it, they do all of it. All the guys want to know is what they should wear to each event. It's wonderful to have the wives here and get to know them."
The site visits are something new for the Hall of Fame, and on the day Greene visited fellow Class of 2016 members Tony Dungy and Marvin Harrison were also on hand. For everyone at the Hall of Fame, it's not their job but their passion to make them feel at home.

"I think the site visits for the current class is truly valuable because during Hall of Fame weekend, you are stepping in front of an oncoming train," said HOF Senior Vice President Dave Motts. "To have the ability to at least know the surroundings, not just the Hall of Fame but this is where I am staying, where my friends are staying, it's a comfort level. It also shows them we care about them. We are there with you every step of the way. This is part of honoring the heroes of the game. I think it's totally invaluable."

One of the highlights of bringing the class to the Hall of Fame is seeing their reaction when they arrive, when they know they are officially a part of the best to ever play the game, when they realize they are one of only 303 members of the Hall of Fame.

"When someone gets elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame it is life altering, absolutely life altering," said HOF VP of Communication Pete Fierle. "They realize when they start putting it into perspective exactly what it means to be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, I don't think it sinks in for a long time.

"I don't think I have met anybody who has been so excited to be elected into the Hall of Fame as Kevin Greene. He is so humbled by it. He has a great appreciation for the history. I think he is constantly pinching himself that he is part of this group. I think he appreciates it a little more because he really wanted it. He knew how important an honor it was. It's the most exclusive honor in all of sports."

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