Treasury secretary becomes latest U.S. dignitary to tour HOF

CANTON — Three days before the enshrinement ceremonies, Dave Motts expected a hectic day at the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

He underestimated.

An hour after he arrived at work Thursday, Motts, the hall’s vice president of marketing and operations, was escorting U.S. Secretary of the Treasury John Snow on an impromptu tour through the hallowed halls of pro football lore.

“I got a call from David Lee, who is the Secret Service agent in charge of this area, and he said the secretary was staying at the Marriott (McKinley Grand Hotel) after a speaking engagement,” Motts said. “He said the secretary likes to take a walk in the mornings, so he suggested walking through the Hall of Fame.

“(Snow) is from the Toledo area and grew up a Browns and Lions fan,” he said. “He’s very knowledgeable about football.”

Snow started his tour at 8:30 a.m., a half-hour before the hall opens. After a brisk 30-minute walk, he went into an office to conduct a phone interview.

“He was here about an hour, then he shook hands and he was gone,” Motts said.

Motts helped conduct the tour with HOF Executive Director John Bankert and Joe Horrigan, vice president of communications, media and public relations.

“It’s always exciting to get someone of high ranking to come through the hall,” Bankert said. “He’s a football fan, and that made it easier.”

Motts has been at the Hall of Fame since the mid-1970s and is used to rubbing shoulders with famous people.

“It’s great to meet the football players, but my biggest thrills are meeting the big government people,” he said. “I think the first one I met was Spiro Agnew.”

Next was Vice President Gerald Ford, then Vice President George H.W. Bush, then Vice President Dan Quayle. He later met President Bill Clinton and, this year, added Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry and Vice President Dick Cheney.

“Quayle’s visit also was impromptu,” he said. “He was in town and decided on the spur of the moment to visit the hall. He came in, asked to see Jack Kemp’s bust, then shook hands and left. He was here about 15 minutes.”

Ford’s visit also was short.

“We had hardly begun when he got called back to Washington and he had to leave immediately,” he said.

You can reach Repository writer Jan H. Kennedy at (330) 580-8325 or e-mail: