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In my Hall of Fame era

In my Hall of Fame era

Zeakia Jordan '24 October 05, 2023

I started my Pro Football Hall of Fame internship in May. During my three months at the Hall, I was a member of the HOF team, preparing for The Hall’s biggest event of the year: enshrinement, when the city on Canton, Ohio, and the biggest football fans in the country prepare for a group of legendary athletes to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. 

Interning at the Pro Football Hall of Fame gave me many once-in-a-lifetime opportunities and experiences that deepened my connections with coworkers and athletes. 

Zeakia standing next to a big Hall of Fame football helmet statue









As an intern in the communications department, I had access to events that most of the other interns did not. I worked the Gold Jacket Dinner at the Canton Civic Center, where Pro Football Hall of Famers received the gold jackets they wear for the induction ceremony the next day. At this enshrinement event, and all others, I worked with mainstream media personnel for networks like ESPN, the NFL Network and CNN. 

In the middle of the event, I got a phone call from Rich Desrosiers, the Hall of Fame’s chief communications and content officer. 

“Hey Zee, are you busy? I need you in the auditorium right now,” he said.

I assumed something had gone terribly wrong with media personnel. When I finally found him, I was out of breath. 

“Hey, is everything OK?” I asked, panting through my words and with panic in my eyes. 

“Oh, everything is fine, you can calm down,” he said, “I just had someone that I wanted you to meet.” 

He motioned to a man sitting down right next to me, and when I finally got the chance to relax I almost cried; I was meeting Jim Trotter, a national columnist who works for The Athletic and has previously written for NFL. 

Looking back now, I should have known Desrosiers had something great in store for me because this summer, he and the rest of the Hall of Fame staff always had my back making sure I was getting as much exposure as I possibly could. 

Enshrinement weekend — along with countless other days at The Hall — gave me connections and opportunities to interact with people who I would not otherwise have had the chance to meet. 

A great deal of my time was spent writing spotlights and tributes for Hall of Famers Steve Young, Gary Zimmerman, Jerry Rice and Andre Reed, to name a few. I grew to truly appreciate their careers and admire them as remarkable human beings. And I even got to meet some of them in person. 

The Gold Jacket Dinner had more than 100 returning Hall of Famers attend to welcome their new lifelong teammates into the Hall of Fame. While shadowing the production crew of the Gold Jacket Dinner, I had an overwhelming experience of witnessing the brotherhood that these legends had. 

As they were lining up to enter the auditorium, I was less than a foot away from them; I could literally reach out and touch them. As they were passing, I had brief conversations with athletes including Marcus Allen, Ray Lewis and Michael Strahan. 

Andre Reed was slowly inching up the line. I had to make a game-time decision: Do I say something or do I let this opportunity slip through my fingers? After all, I had spent weeks writing the perfect story about him.

“... I couldn’t allow myself to let you walk past me without me introducing myself.”

“Excuse me, Mr. Reed. My name is Zeakia Jordan, and I’m an intern with The Hall. I had the pleasure of writing about your career, and I couldn’t allow myself to let you walk past me without me introducing myself,” I said, doing my best to not seem nervous.

He gave me a hug, and I knew that I had made the right choice. 

The summer was filled with building new and long-lasting memories with others who shared the same ambition to follow their careers as I did. The other interns are people whom I now consider family. Living in the same apartment building, going to work together, our trips to Handle’s Ice Cream that almost became a ritual for us to decompress after a long work day, sitting around the Walsh University fire pit, First Fridays at Centennial Plaza and spending all of the summer holidays together truly bonded us. 

At work, when we needed a break from our duties, we would visit each other in various locations around The Hall, usually at each others’ desks to see what each department was working on amid discussing our potential plans for the night, catching up on new experiences we’ve had throughout the day and inserting our inside jokes into our short conversations. Every visit was a time for us to temporarily forget our Hall of Fame stresses and take time to truly enjoy our time at The Hall. 

The Hall gave me the opportunity to build connections with people in new ways. Knowing my desire to start a career in news and broadcasting, the staff always made sure I was in spaces where I could elevate myself; to them, I will always be grateful. 

I was invited back to extend my internship and worked The Black College Football Hall of Fame Classic at the start of this month. The Hall remains the same; these people genuinely care about my well-being and the dreams I have for myself. 

I will forever have a home at the Pro Football Hall of Fame and will be forever grateful for the role they’ve played in the development of my career.