CANTON, Ohio — Workers assembled the metal framework for outdoor tents in the parking lot of the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Friday, getting ready for its big enshrinement weekend — one that won't include a game for the first time in 45 years.
It's much more than just a lost pre-season game for the northern Ohio community with deep football roots.
The labor dispute between NFL owners and players forced the league to call off the annual Hall of Fame game between Chicago and St. Louis scheduled for Aug. 7.
Everything else will go as planned, including the enshrinement on Aug. 6.
It's a financial blow to the Hall of Fame, which could lose about $1.5 million out of its $20 million annual operating budget. And it's a big loss for the community, which gets more than just a financial boost from the event.
Pride also comes into play.
"We're such a football community," said Joanne Murray, director of the Hall of Fame festival for the local Chamber of Commerce. "From the staff to the man on the street, I doubt you'd find a single person who would say they're not disappointed.
"We're just going to have to get through this unusual year and embrace the other events."
The Hall of Fame game started in 1962, a year before the building opened.
Last year, nearly 20,000 tickets were sold for the enshrinement. The 22,000-seat stadium was packed for a game between Dallas and Cincinnati. An estimated 6 million people watched the enshrinement on television, and the game turned out to be one of the highest-rated shows of the week with 11.4 million viewers.
The Hall of Fame gets ticket and merchandise sales from the game, plus increased visits to the museum. The Hall is in the midst of a $27 million renovation to be completed in 2013. It's offering refunds for game tickets.
The 2011 induction class includes Shannon Sharpe, Richard Dent, Marshall Faulk, Deion Sanders and Chris Hanburger.
Edwards pleads guilty
NEW YORK — New York Jets star wide receiver Braylon Edwards pleaded guilty Friday in his drunken-driving case, saying he wanted to resolve it as a possible end to the NFL lockout neared.
"I feel good. I feel like it came to a fair conclusion," Edwards said as he left a Manhattan court after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor driving while intoxicated charge. His case will be closed without jail time or probation if he meets conditions that include paying a $500 fine and staying in an NFL substance abuse counseling program he's been in since October.
"We're happy that it's past us, and now it's really time to focus on football again," he said.
His drivers' license will be suspended for six months, and he'll have to install a device that prevents a car from starting until the driver blows into a breath alcohol detector.
Packer pleads not guilty
GREEN BAY, Wis. — Green Bay Packers cornerback Brandon Underwood pleaded not guilty to a count of disorderly conduct Friday after being charged in an incident with his wife the night the team got their Super Bowl rings last month.
Authorities allege the 25-year-old Underwood ripped a necklace off his wife, Brandie, and pushed her to the ground at their home following the June 16 ring ceremony.
Brandie Underwood has said the incident has been blown out of proportion and that's she's never been afraid of her husband.