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Superfan goes to Super Bowl and to HOF

Who seriously ever gets to go to the Super Bowl?

Sure, we all know people who have had really rare and cool sporting event experiences.

Court seats at an NBA basketball game. Attendance at a college football championship game. Tickets to Game 7 of the World Series. Heck, the Steelers have hosted so many playoff games, I’ll bet countless readers have been there waving their terrible towels.

But a Super Bowl? Really? And during a pandemic, to boot.

Well, Ray Prisby of Youngstown, for one. Prisby earned his trip to Super Bowl LV after being selected as a finalist for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Ford Hall of Fans. As a result, Prisby this afternoon will be among the limited, socially distanced crowd of just 25,000 live fans (and 30,000 cardboard fans) at Raymond James Stadium.

Friday, it was announced that, indeed, this Cleveland Browns superfan will be inducted into the Hall of Fans in Canton. He will be part of the Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Canton, which will honor both the Class of 2020 and this year’s Hall of Fame inductees.

“I want to thank you for loving this game so much,” said Hall of Fame President and CEO David Baker when he delivered the news to Prisby in Tampa. “On behalf of the Ford Motor Company, on behalf of the Hall of Fame and on behalf of all of us who love football, I want to congratulate you on being inducted into the Ford Hall of Fans.”

Prisby, 65, was one of six football aficionados nominated for induction into the Ford Hall of Fans.

The memorabilia in his Youngstown home is evidence of why.

“I started buying this and that, just started adding, and it got to this,” he said, gesturing around a room filled from floor to ceiling with Browns’ jerseys, footballs, helmets, autographs, photographs and one-of-a-kind mementos.

During a recent visit, Prisby toured our reporter Andy Gray through the collection that fills several rooms.

Indeed, Prisby’s fandom is special, and his Browns collection is extremely unique. That makes his trip to the Super Bowl especially fitting because this year’s game is even more unique than usual.

No, I’m not about to go into a long production about Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady being the GOAT — greatest of all time, that is. Really, I’d be the last person to brag on Tom Brady. As a lifetime Steelers fan, Brady has caused me much heartburn. (Isn’t that guy EVER going to retire?)

My husband, a lifelong Browns fan who strongly believes Brady is the GOAT, recently asked why I’m such a hater.

“Tell me, dear,” I retorted, “why are you such a hater of great quarterback and general all-around good guy John Elway?”

Touche.

Sorry for reopening that wound, Browns fans, but you can relate.

No, this year’s Super Bowl is unique because it’s the first time ever that a team — Tampa Bay Buccaneers — will play for the Vince Lombardi trophy in their home stadium. They’ll face off against defending champion Kansas City Chiefs. Kickoff is 6:30 p.m.

Despite the ongoing friendly rivalry in the Linert house, and even though I bleed black and gold, today I’m putting aside my terrible towel and Roethlisberger jersey. Yes, today I’ll (figuratively) wave the brown and orange victory flag for Ray Prisby and the Mahoning Valley.

After all, how could you not root for a guy who was wearing Browns linebacker Clay Matthews No. 57 jersey when he found out he was being inducted?

How could you not root for a guy who answered the door at his East Side Youngstown home to find NFL legend and Hall of Fame running back Jim Brown waiting to deliver the news that he was among six nominated for the honor. (Talk about GOAT. Even as a Steeler fan, I can’t deny that.)

Congratulations, Ray Prisby. You deserve to be at today’s big game, and you deserve to be in Canton.

Oh, and go Chiefs.

blinert@tribtoday.com

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