What is the Eleven?
The ELEVEN is a $2.2 million multi-year project of ArtsinStark and The Pro Football Hall of Fame with the following goals: 1) To turn downtown into an ongoing celebration of football, 2) To create a walkable series of 11 pieces of world-class art, 3) To establish a new tourism attraction called The ELEVEN. The total cost for all 11 moments is $2.2 million (cash and in-kind). Here are the eleven greatest moments in professional football in chronological order, as selected by The Pro Football Hall of Fame.
- Birth of the NFL (1920) DONE
- Red Grange Turns Pro (1925)
- The NFL Draft (1936) DONE
- Reintegration of Pro Football (1946) DONE
- 1958 Championship Game (Colts/NY Giants)
- Formation American Football League (1959)
- Pete Rozelle Named Commissioner (1960)
- AFL/NFL Merger (1966) DONE
- The Ice Bowl (1967)
- Super Bowl III (1968) DONE
FIRST MOMENT – the Birth of the NFL, 1920 sculpture by artist Michael Clapper was installed on August 1, 2014. It celebrates the NFL being created in Canton, OH on September 17, 1920. “Birth” is placed very close to where the NFL agreement was actually signed inside the Hupmobile showroom of Canton Bulldogs owner Ralph Hay. Today the Frank T. Bow Building at 201 Cleveland Ave SW stands on that spot. More than 80 artists from 30 states responded to a national invitation to create “The Birth.” The pre-rusted steel pedestal celebrates the steel industry of Northeast Ohio and includes the ten charter members laser cut into it. The stainless steel top, or “seed pod,” is giving birth to the NFL, whose letters which have been placed sideways, are made of 30-some pieces of dichroic glass which was developed by NASA for satellite mirrors in outer space.
Sponsors: Deuble Foundation, Sally Morse Dale, and Stark Community Foundation. In-Kind Supporters: City of Canton, County of Stark, Fred Olivieri Construction, and Hilscher-Clarke Electric.
SECOND MOMENT – the NFL Draft, 1936 sculpture by artist Gail Folwell was installed on August 7, 2015. It celebrates NFL Commissioner Bert Bell’s idea of teams selecting college players by inverse order, based on how they finished the prior season, which changed the future of clubs overnight. The 5-bronze-figure creation by artist Gail Folwell features a man in a suit hiking the ball among four gladiatorial- looking football players. The man in the suit is Bert Bell, owner/founder of the Philadelphia Eagles and later NFL Commissioner. But Folwell says this could be any owner of any team, surrounded by his players.
Sponsors: Deuble Foundation, Hoover Foundation, Stark Community Foundation, Timken Foundation. In-Kind Supporters: Beaver Excavating, City of Canton, Hilscher-Clark Electric, Reliable Ready Mix, Whitacre Engineering.
THIRD MOMENT – the AFL/NFL Merger, 1966 sculpture by artist David Griggs was installed on June 23, 2016. His art is abstract. It meant to capture the essence of an idea. Here in steel and granite is that moment in the 1960s when the AFL and NFL — after battling endlessly — decide to merge. The sculpture is about becoming greater than the sum of the parts. In the 1960s, the two leagues battled endlessly, and this sculpture straddles the sidewalk as the two sides reach out to become one. One side represents the more traditional NFL, and the other the upstart AFL. The artist wants the viewer to think about this for himself and won’t tell which side is which. Finally there may be a “defense” shape or a football helmet design in “The Merger,” and the sails, as the artist calls them, on top, light up at night and change colors every ten seconds.
Sponsors: Deuble Foundation, Hoover Foundation, Stark Community Foundation, Timken Foundation. In-Kind Supporters: Hilscher-Clarke Electric, Rice’s Landscapes Redefined, The Vasco Group.
FOURTH MOMENT – the Reintegration of ProFootball, 1946 mural by artist Paul Collins was installed on August 5, 2016. Although there were a handful of African American players in the early days, from 1934 to 1946 pro football had none. That all changed in 1946 ( a full year before Jackie Robinson began playing professional baseball) when the Los Angeles Rams signed Woody Strode and Kenny Washington, and the Cleveland Browns signed Marion Motley and Bill Willis. These four heroic players are celebrated in the documentary “The Forgotten Four.” Artist Paul Collins created the original painting upon which this 30 foot by 90 foot banner mural is based. He purposely made one of the hands on the football white and the other black to emphasize the importance of unity as America moves forward into the 21 century.
Sponsors: Deuble Foundation, Hoover Foundation, Stark Community Foundation, Timken Foundation. In-Kind Supporters: Hilscher-Clarke Electric, Kebco Precision Fabricators.
FIFTH MOMENT – Super Bowl III, 1968 mural by artist Dirk Rozich was installed on August 4, 2017.
This was the year that Joe Namath, star quarterback of the AFL’s New York Jets, predicted victory over the NFL’s heavily favored Baltimore Colts, and, in one of the greatest upsets in sports history — did exactly that with a final score of 16 – 7.
Sponsors: Deuble Foundation, Hoover Foundation, Stark Community Foundation, Timken Foundation. In-Kind Supporters: Coon Restoration and Hilscher-Clark Electric.
TIMETABLE for implementation: The NFL will be 100 years old in 2020. Our goal is to have all 11 moments installed in time for that big celebration. Here again are the eleven moments with a short description of each.
- Birth of the NFL, 1920. On September 17, representatives of the league’s ten charter teams, including Jim Thorpe and George Halas, meet in the showroom of Canton Bulldogs owner Ralph Hay’s automobile dealership, and create the NFL. (On August 1, 2014 Michael Clapper unveiled his 25-foot steel and glass sculpture.)
- Red Grange turns Pro, 1925. The Chicago Bears sign college superstar halfback Harold “Red” Grange and he becomes pro football’s first big gate attraction.
- The NFL Draft, 1936. NFL Commissioner Bert Bell’s idea of teams selecting college players by inverse order, based on how they finished the prior season, changes the future of clubs overnight. (On August 7, 2015 Gail Folwell unveiled her bronze sculpture.)
- Reintegration of Pro Football, 1946. The Los Angeles Rams sign Woody Strode and Kenny Washington, the Cleveland Browns sign Marion Motely and Bill Willis, and the doors of professional football open for African Americans. (Paul Collins created the painting. Both the painting and the mural were unveiled on August 5, 2016.)
- 1958 NFL Championship Game. In what has been called the “Greatest Game Ever Played,” Johnny Unitas and the Baltimore Colts come back to beat the New York Giants in first “sudden death” NFL championship.
- Formation of the American Football League, 1959. The AFL is formed and for ten seasons expands into new markets, creates opportunities, and brings tremendous innovation to the game.
- Pete Rozelle named NFL Commissioner, 1960. Rozelle begins his 29-year career during which he makes pro football America’s most popular sport, gets the first league-wide TV contract, negotiates the NFL/AFL merger, and transforms the Super Bowl into an international extravaganza.
- AFL/NFL Merger, 1966. The costly battle between two rival leagues for players and markets ends with the June 8, 1966 announcement of the AFL-NFL merger. (David Griggs unveiled his granite and steel sculpture on June 23, 2016 in front the YMCA downtown.)
- The Ice Bowl, 1967. In frigid conditions at Lambeau Field on New Year’s Eve, Bart Starr and the Green Bay Packers beat the Dallas Cowboys 21 – 17, cementing the legacy of coach Vince Lombardi and the 1960 Green Bay Packers.
- Super Bowl III, 1968. Joe Namath, star quarterback of the AFL’s New York Jets, predicts victory over the NFL’s heavily favored Baltimore Colts and — in one of the greatest upsets in sports history — does exactly that 16 – 7. (On August 4, 2017 Dirk Rozich unveiled his mural on the side of Cultural Center for the Arts.)