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DAY TRIP: Football’s glory days – Traveling exhibit moves the goalposts to Davenport

DAVENPORT, Iowa – The player is running. No one’s even close to him and he’s got a clear shot at the goalposts. The crowd roars as he makes a touchdown. Hoorah!

Football – what an exciting game. But what can fans do between the last touchdown of one season and the first kickoff of the next one? They can go to Putnam Museum & Science Center’s new exhibit, “Gridiron Glory: The Best of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.”

Featuring items from the Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio,the traveling display, which was previously in Boston, celebrates all things football with rare game footage, photos, artifacts, interactive exhibits and kid-friendly displays. It also caters to regional favorites, with displays showcasing the Green Bay Packers and the Chicago Bears.

“Sports have a way of bringing people together like none other; the love of a team is passed from generation to the next,” Putnam President and Kim Findlay said.  “‘Gridiron Glory’ has something for fans of all ages … the legends, the science, and the passion of America’s most popular sport.”

Gridiron guests also can find out how they stack up against the pros, testing their athletic ability in training camp where they can put their reaction time to the test, or see whether their broad-jump and vertical-jump skills measure up to the pros.

The exhibit also features plenty of history, including running back Barry Sanders’ jersey from 1997, the year he broke the 2,000-yard rushing mark, becoming the third player to ever do so. Also on hand is the 1892 accounting ledger from the first paid player in football. It’s considered one of the Hall of Fame’s rarest documents and is regarded as pro football’s “birth certificate.”

You’ll also see an authentic interactive instant replay booth, a Vince Lombardi trophy, Jerry Rice’s record-breaking career touchdown receptions football, Knute Rockne’s 1919 Massillon Tigers helmet, items from the game in which Emmit Smith set an all-time rushing record, and a jersey worn by Jim Brown.

Don’t worry if those names don’t mean anything to you, or are only vaguely familiar – like they are to me. The exhibit provides a great opportunity to learn more about the game.

Some special events are planned around the football exhibit. April 28 will be a youth day, a rooftop concert is being scheduled for May, and classic football films will be shown on Saturdays through June 2 at the museum’s Giant Screen Theater.

And that’s not all, with the purchase of an exhibit ticket, visitors 18 and older can enter the June 4 drawing for something any self-respecting football fan needs: a La-Z-Boy recliner.


What: Gridiron Glory: The Best of the Pro Football Hall of Fame

Where: Putnam Museum & Science Center, 1717 W. 12th St., Davenport, Iowa

When: Now through June 3

Cost: The cost plus general admission is: adults $15, seniors 60 and older, college students and military with identification $13 and youth 3-18 $12; anyone in team logo wear, $1 off

Distance: about 77 miles from Dixon

Accessible: Accessible to wheelchairs

Information: or 563-324-1933

Football movies

Times: 3 p.m. most Saturdays, 6 p.m. March 17, April 7, April 28, May 12, May 26

Cost: $5 with Gridiron exhibit ticket

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