Former Hamilton High School football star Warren Moon only ever wanted to play in the Rose Bowl game, he told an audience of about 100 friends, family, patrons, and media members at the dedication and ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new California High School Football Hall of Fame on Saturday at the Rose Bowl. The space will not be open to the public until the first Public Tour in October 2023 or for private game-day specific uses.
“This was the stadium and the game that I had grown up watching every year,” said the former Seattle Seahawks quarterback, the only player ever to be named to both the NFL Hall of Fame and Canadian Football Hall of Fame. “This is where I wanted to play.”
Moon was one of several former California high school football stars who were named to the first 100 members of the Hall of Fame at the dedication ceremony, which will occupy a space located between Tunnels 20-21.
The new installation itself was previewed in a special dedication and ribbon-cutting ceremony Saturday hosted by KCAL sportscaster and former NFL star Jim Hill.
“The Rose Bowl Stadium is now more than 100 years old,” said Dedan Brozino, president of the Rose Bowl Legacy Foundation, “and over the years it’s become a living museum, with statues and historical markers and photos, along with the museum in our original locker room. Today is an extension of that museum, but it’s also to pay homage to the history of high school football in this great state of California.”
The Hall of Fame is a partnership between the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF), the National Football Foundation, the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and the Rose Bowl Stadium. According to a statement from the Rose Bowl, the project will “honor the history, quality, and overall impact of players, coaches, and integral moments that have shaped the landscape of high school football in the state.”
“When scanning the names of the California High School Football Hall of Fame Inductees,” said Jim Porter, president of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, “it quickly becomes obvious that this is a national caliber, ‘Who’s who’ list of players, many who also went on to make significant contributions in the college game, the pros, and, for a truly impressive number, all the way to the pro football Hall of Fame. We join in celebrating these outstanding achievers.”
“I have such vivid memories of playing in this stadium in high school,” added Pasadena Mayor Victor Gordo, who played in several “Turkey Tussle” rivalry games against John Muir, while a student at Pasadena High.
“I remember just standing in the tunnel and waiting to come out and seeing the crowd and hearing the band,” he said, before the ceremony. “It’s a feeling I’ll never forget.”
The Hall of Fame project first came together as a result of two substantial pledges to the Foundation from local philanthropists Brian Panish and Mickey Segal. Philanthropist Brian Kennedy also provided a significant pledge.
Segal, who has raised hundreds of millions of dollars for local causes from schools to hospitals, is also a Pasadena High School alum who played in the Rose Bowl three times in high school.
Recalled Segal, who was an offensive guard, said, “I played in the ‘Turkey Tussle’ three times, and we won every game.”
The first 100 members of the Hall of Fame were chosen by a selection committee, representing all 10 CIF state sections. Following public nominations, the committee selected the inaugural class, which includes 100 players and 13 coaches. The hundred players in the first class represent the stadium’s recent 100th birthday.
The inaugural class includes such legends as New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, San Francisco 49er quarterback John Brodie, Pasadena legend Jackie Robinson, former LA Rams quarterback Vince Ferragamo, USC legend Anthony Davis, Stanford quarterback Jim Plunkett, and former Pittsburgh Steeler standout Lynn Swann.
The Hall of Fame Museum features one-of-a-kind mementos and artifacts from 100 years of high school football history in California.
Along with the 100-member inaugural class, four additional awards have also been presented, “representing an outstanding Californian who has contributed significantly to the sport of football in our country.“
Former NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle was awarded the Golden State Award, while Pete Saco, former CIF commissioner of the San Joaquin section, was named to the Terry Donahue Leadership Award.
The Champion of Success Award was presented to former CIF Southern Section Commissioner Dean Crowley, and the Impact in Sports Journalism award was presented to Eric Sondheimer, Prep Sports editor at The Los Angeles Times.