The Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, is a worthwhile destination for any football fan. But it's also 800 miles southeast of the Twin Cities, so it's not exactly a swift weekend drive away.
But you know what is? Downtown Minneapolis. And if the Hall of Fame is relevant to your interests, you'll want to consider heading to the Minneapolis Convention Center on Saturday or Sunday for the Pro Football Hall of Fame's "Honor the Heroes" tour.
George Veras, the Pro Football Hall of Fame's executive vice president, said the tour is essentially a pumped-up version of the full Hall of Fame, featuring a replica of the actual space, artifacts from Canton and interactive games designed to test football skills. Minneapolis is the first leg in a multicity fall tour.
"Our mission statement is to honor the heroes of the game, and that's why the tour is called that," Veras said. "This is part of our national outreach.
Among the highlights is a chance for fans to mingle with former Vikings players who are enshrined in Canton. Warren Moon is appearing from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, followed by Randall McDaniel from 2-6 p.m.; on Sunday, Paul Krause is in the 10-2 slot, while John Randle is there from 2-6.
"It's a run across generations of Vikings Hall of Famers," Veras said. "The programming is what's going to be really fun."
Fans can interact with the "Gold Jackets," as Veras calls Hall of Famers, but the youngest fans will get a particularly interesting opportunity during kids-only news conferences.
Veras said the sessions, where kids get a chance to ask the questions, are a major hit during induction weekend. So that part of the show goes on the road, too.
"The players love doing it because it's their chance to talk and teach, not just in terms of the great plays on the field but in terms of how they got there," Veras said. "From the mouths of babes comes the real truth."
Veras is moderating the sessions and said he's "looking forward immensely" to all four — including one in particular.
"Can you imagine John Randle?" he said, referring to the quotable former Vikings defensive lineman. "The question is, 'Will he stop talking?'"
He'll need to, because the tour heads to Detroit the following weekend. The fall destinations for the tour are primarily NFL cities, while a separate spring tour is expected to reach several spots that don't have teams.
"To us, every city in America is a football city," Veras said.