The Pro Football Hall of Fame Has An Image to Maintain | Draft Day Suit

The Pro Football Hall of Fame Has An Image to Maintain

Last week, the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio removed a 2010 photo of Aaron Hernandez from a gallery that celebrates excellence in professional football photography. The 2010 season was Hernandez’s rookie season where he excelled and showcased his innate abilities. In week 2 of the 2010 season he became the youngest player to have over 100 receiving yards in a single game since 1960. A football superstar was born. The photo in question captured Hernandez strutting into the end zone during a game against the Green Bay Packers. So why was the photo removed?

2010 photo by Mary Schwalm that used to reside in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

2010 photo by Mary Schwalm that used to reside in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

The photo’s author, Mary Schwalm, is rightly upset that the photo has been removed from its place in history. The photo was selected at the end of the 2010 season as the recipient of the Dave Boss Award of Excellence and earned the right to hang in a gallery at the Pro Football Hall of Fame. It was selected by a panel of photography experts as the best professional football photo of the year. It was not selected because of the person highlighted in the photo, it was selected because of its composition.

Visitors complained upon seeing it in the HoF. The HoF decided that in the interest of public outcry that it would be best if they took it down. Is anyone currently offended seeing Ray Lewis and the Ravens celebrating their 2012 Superbowl win at the HoF’s theater?  Back in 1994, this article about OJ Simpson’s bust, shows that the HoF had no plans to remove Simpson’s likeness from the museum, despite some of the public complaining about it. Granted those murders are far from the forefront of the public’s mind now. Maybe since we are ten, fifteen, twenty years on from those trials, it’s acceptable to continue to celebrate those men and their achievements without having to remember how they tarnished the image of themselves, their teams, and this sport we all love so much.

Mary Schwalm did nothing wrong and yet her achievement is being punished. Was she supposed to know that two and a half years ago she was taking a photo of someone who would one day become a murder suspect? No. Her achievement in professional photography has been discarded because the Patriots, the HoF, and the NFL in general are worried about their image. Distancing themselves from an accused killer is the smart, business minded thing to do. But the wrong person is being punished here. Mary’s artwork should be celebrated for years to come. It’s a photo that captures the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat, aptly titled “Thrill and Agony”. To know that from now on, there will be an empty space in the HoF where her artwork should hang is sad and disappointing.

I was thrilled when the Patriots organization announced they would be exchanging out old Hernandez jersey’s for any other player’s jersey. I don’t want little kids idolizing a suspected murderer and wearing his jersey when they may not understand the scope of his actions during the time of an innocent man’s death. That, to me, punishes Hernandez. This action by the HoF, doesn’t seem to be anything but bowing to the whims of a few people who can’t appreciate art for art’s sake. They should stand behind their decision of selecting Mary Schwalms artwork to hang in their museum. It is a gorgeous picture. Instead they’re taking away something she rightly won and deserved. It is sad times when art can’t just live as art and is instead subjected to the media image cleaning machine.

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About the author
Tom Brady and Craft Beer. She enjoys both of those for 17 weeks every Fall and it is a glorious time for her. Raised in sunny San Diego, she grew up a Chargers fan and a Packers fan because her Dad is from Wisconsin. After a move to BFE Ohio in 1992, she decided to switch allegiances and become a Patriots fan. Why? Well, the uniforms were pretty colors and she was 12. In college she became a Yankees fan out of spite and in her late 20's she became an LSU fan out of love. After moving to Pittsburgh in 2010, she's become a die-hard Pirates fan and a reluctant Penguins fan. Can someone teach her about hockey, please? She will never, ever, ever under any circumstances, root for the Steelers. Ever. Don't ask her about basketball or soccer or any other sports, she could care less.

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3 Replies to The Pro Football Hall of Fame Has An Image to Maintain

  1. Sarah says:

    I was even ill at ease when the Patriots decided to exchange jerseys – you know, not guilty until proven innocent? But this seems extreme. I agree, the photographer did nothing wrong and it is an outstanding shot. He wasn’t a murderer then, right?

    Mike Vick is a CONVICTED felon. I bet you can find Irvin’s picture in there somewhere. Janikowski? Come on!

  2. MsBossyNoPants says:

    Irvin is a Hall of Famer, so yes, his likeness is all over that place. Janikowski? Well, he may be pictured in the HoF in some capacity, a picture during the Raiders 2002 Superbowl appearance perhaps. Michael Vick is not yet in the HoF, and if we go by previous HoF statements, they look at on the field performance to determine eligibility. Now, whether or not the HoF voters will look to his extracurricular activities before voting… we’ll have to see.

    I’m disappointed that the HoF is blatantly disregarding their own guidelines in this situation. Because now, more than ever before, the media is every where. And the media image has to be clean at all times. Rather than doing the right thing, and leaving the picture up, they’re making sure they “look” like they’re doing the right thing, by not supporting an alleged murderer.

  3. Louis R. Gonzalez says:

    The Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, has removed from its pictorial display an award-winning photo of New England Patriot tight end Aaron Hernandez eluding a tackler and scoring a key touchdown during his rookie season in 2010. Hernandez, 23, was arrested a month ago on first-degree murder charges in the death of an acquaintance and semi-pro football player, Odin Lloyd of Boston. He was dropped by the Patriots upon his arrest, and remains in custody, having twice been denied bail. Joe Horgan, vice president of communications and exhibits for the hall, said the museum received complaints from visitors about highlighting a player who was under arrest for murder. “In the spirit of good taste, we thought we’d take it down,” said Horgan. The photo shows Herhandez high-stepping into the end zone, with crumpled defender Sam Shields of the Green Bay Packers in the background. Titled “Thrill and Agony,” it was taken by photographer Mary Schwalm of The Eagle-Tribune, North Andover, Mass., and won the hall’s annual Dave Boss Award of Excellence as the best pro football photo of the 2010 season. The Eagle-Tribune had removed the photo from its sports Facebook page profile picture the day Hernandez was charged with murder. In the photo, Hernandez is wearing jersey number 85. He switched to number 81 the next season. Earlier this month, the Patriots offered to exchange jerseys with No. 81 and Hernandez’ name from fans who had purchased them at the team’s pro shop. Hundreds of fans did so. In another disassociation from Hernanez, EA Sports Madden football announced earlier it had removed the former star tight end’s image from its latest version of the video game.

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