The buzz among the national media is the major concern if the yearly Pro Football Hall of Fame Game will be played. I took a trip down memory lane, and here are some of my experiences when being in Canton for the Hall-of-Fame weekend over the years.

The traditional enshrinement festival consists of the Queen Pageant, which serves as goodwill ambassadors and role models for all young kids in the community and are the escorts in welcoming the current class to Canton. There are concerts and fireworks held downtown along with hot-air balloons in flight that brings over 130,000 spectators who enjoy what is called the “night glow,” which is held in the evening. Over 1,900 participants take part in a two- and five-mile walk and run. The community parade rivals those held throughout the country with marching bands, youth groups, giant helium balloons and antique vehicles.

And yes there is plenty of great food to eat including a giant cookout called the “ribs burnoff,” where over 140,000 fans enjoy both local and national vendors and restaurants. Along with the food that can be smelled for miles, is a fantasy football zone, face painting and a master sand sculptor and much more.

The event that officially jump-starts the great tradition of the Pro Football Hall of Fame weekend involves over 2,000 youth in what is called the “kickoff,” where an official NFL Duke football is handed off for nearly 3.5 miles by youngsters from downtown Canton to the steps of the Hall of Fame.

I’m a lifetime member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame and received my credit card-like pass when I was a scout for the Carolina Panthers. We played the Jacksonville Jaguars, both expansion teams, in our inaugural season in 1995.

There are two yearly events that are a must to attend. The Grand Parade held in downtown Canton that introduces the incoming enshrinees and the present Hall of Famers, which is enjoyed by nearly 200,000 fans of all ages. The other is the Enshrinement Celebration Fan Party, which is a private party held on the Hall-of-Fame grounds prior to the induction ceremony under a giant tent-like pavilion, where live music is heard throughout and tons of great food is served while Hall-of-Fame legends meet and greet everyone.

And then there is the yearly traditional induction ceremony of the incoming class. The 2011 class consists of Marshall Faulk, Deion Sanders, Richard Dent, Chris Hanburger, Les Richter, Ed Sabol and Shannon Sharpe. A radio TV award named after the late commissioner Pete Rozelle will be given to Jim Nantz.

During the induction ceremony, each inductee sits center stage on the field of Fawcett Stadium (used as a high school stadium) in front of a sold-out crowd of NFL football fans both young and old wearing their jerseys that represent all 32 teams. Each of the class members have a presenter that takes everyone down memory lane recapping the accomplishments of the inductee including videos created by NFL Films. When the class members take the stage, the crowd goes crazy with cheers and chants of nicknames, first or last names or the team in which they represent, but they quickly quiet and listen intensely while innermost emotions and career experiences along with heartfelt and emotional acceptance speeches are delivered, which many times include a pause to gather themselves and a few might even shed a tear or two.

This will be my fifth visit to the Hall of Fame. My first was with the Panthers. I then had two pro scouting assignments where I had to scout bubble veterans and all rookies drafted third to seventh rounds that might not make the team and the fourth was an invitation by a good friend of mine who was inducted, linebacker Andre Tippett of the New England Patriots. My fifth will be to watch No. 28 Marshall Faulk, a friend I met in 2006 when I became a vice president with the Rams.

While the great tradition of the Hall of Fame weekend including the induction ceremony will take place, the question is whether the two teams scheduled to play in the game (Rams and Chicago Bears) have possibly a once-in-a-lifetime chance to play in this game watched by millions of fans on television including the other 30 teams.

In my opinion, the most important item on the NFL docket or agenda is the settlement agreement and the finalizing of a new CBA. While the rich tradition of the game and the possible loss of revenue for the city of Canton, not to mention the experience for thousands of fans is on the minds of many, the CBA is the No. 1 issue facing owners and players.

When I asked several Rams players about their thoughts of playing in the game, these were their replies:

Adam Goldberg: “Obviously, I’d love to play in a Hall-of-Fame game because that would mean that football is back on and that I am a Ram. But on a deeper level, if it were canceled, I’d feel like I missed a unique opportunity to experience the history of the game I love to play.”

Josh Brown: “It may be the only chance I get. No matter how long my career is, I could say I got to play in the Hall-of-Fame game. And with the lockout this year, an extra pre-season game may come in handy.”

Ron Bartell: “As long as were able to get a deal done and report by the 22nd, I’m for it, but after that it should be canceled.”

Chris Massey: “We just want to play. As one of the guys left that was with Marshall and have seen his greatness on the field, it would be not only be a great honor as a former teammate but also as an organization to celebrate his career. If we don’t get to play it would be a disservice to him.”

David Vobora: “I’m ready to go back to work, as soon as we can get the right deal. Everyone hopes that is as soon as possible.”

When I asked several other players their thoughts on if the lockout was lifted with only 10 days prior to the game, whether that would be enough preparation time in order to play against the Chicago Bears, all were in agreement “that it would not be ideal, (but) nothing about the offseason to this point has been ideal.”

One player went on to say that “we are all in the same boat and when presented with the circumstances we will take each day as an opportunity to improve and get better.”

I also spoke to a current player on another team, on his thoughts of the lockout and the possibility of the Hall of Fame Game being cancelled. He said, “That’s a concern, however we have bigger issues with all the free agents and rookies who may be able to go to work and over a thousand who won’t be able to. Our hope is we get a deal done this week.”