FOXBOROUGH -- The voice of Patriots great Gino Cappelletti greets visitors as they ride the elevator up to the Patriots Hall of Fame. It's the start of an enjoyable journey into the history of football in the region, naturally focused on the Patriots.
The Hall itself opened in the fall, but it wasn't until this past week that I had the chance to visit it in a relaxed, non-working capacity. It was well worth the trip.
Summed up briefly, it's first-class.
Stepping off the elevator on the third floor, I spent about a half-hour in the "Building Blocks" exhibit. It features glass cases for each decade of the team's existence, stocked with photos, letters, and memorabilia. The 1960s segment had a copy of the letter Billy Sullivan received from Lamar Hunt granting him an American Football League franchise. If I read the letter correctly, the cost was $25,000. I also learned that the team had a logo before Pat Patriot, a tri-corn hat, used for one season (1960).
"Building Blocks" turned out to be my favorite part of the entire Hall. It captured the different parts of the history of the Patriots, including the not-so-great moments of the early 1990s. The digital touch screens were also impressive in that area. When I picked Bill Parcells, it showed video of Parcells from his introductory press conference in 1993, when fans suddenly had more reason to hope.
The Raytheon Theater was impressive, too, where there is a superb video that tied the history of the New England region to its professional football team.
After exploring the other parts of the third floor -- such as a wall that featured various team records and a New England football exhibit -- it was time to move to the second floor.
This was more interactive.
At the bottom of the stairs, I stepped into the size 17 shoeprints of Richard Seymour. The "Once a Patriot" exhibit had the feel of being in a study and then it was time to get "In the Moment" -- watching highlights of all Patriots Hall of Famers and recapping their careers.
Moving on, I stepped under the instant replay hood and made like an official, and then attempted a 45-yard "Snow Bowl" field goal. There were plays to choose that Bill Belichick broke down, and even a chance to step into the locker room and huddle with Tom Brady and his teammates.
This trip was nearly two hours, and it could have been longer.
For the adult admission price of $10 (kids are $5, seniors are $7), it was well worth it.
For those with an interest in football and the Patriots, it's highly recommended, and easy to come away from with an appreciation for the efforts of the Kraft family.