The Buffalo Bills are preparing for one of their most memorable weekends, but their trip this weekend to Canton, Ohio -- for Sunday night's Pro Football Hall of Fame Game against the Tennessee Titans and the enshrinement of Bills president Ralph Wilson, Jr., and former Buffalo defensive end Bruce Smith -- carries additional excitement for cornerback Reggie Corner.
As someone who was born in Canton and attended the University of Akron, Corner is thrilled to be returning to his hometown to play in the Hall of Fame game at Fawcett Stadium, where he played in high school and where the first NFL preseason game of the season is played each year.
"I'm definitely looking forward to running out on the field," said the former McKinley high school star. "I've practiced and played there so many times, and this time as a pro is really exciting. I'm really looking forward to the whole thing."
Despite being an All-Ohio, All-District and All-County player his last two high school seasons and winning a state title (1998), one of Corner's favorite grade school memories is the fireworks display that would light up the sky over Canton every Hall of Fame weekend.
"It's one of the biggest weekends of the year for Canton, so it was always pretty exciting," Corner said. "Now I have the opportunity to go back and play at home."
The Hall of Fame Festival events begin in May and continue through August, with highlights including a festival pageant, a community parade, a fashion show luncheon, an enshrinement dinner, the enshrinement ceremony, and the Hall of Fame Game. Surrounding companies are happy to welcome the HOF guests, and neighbors welcome the new inductees as well as returning Hall of Famers.
This year, Corner's family and friends are excited to welcome him back and to obviously see him play at Fawcett Stadium. His family doesn't live far from the stadium, and he can recall their constant support at his home games. For Corner's family members and others who know him, the game will have a more personal connection.
The second-year player just hopes his performance will make them, along with his former coaches and teammates, glad to call Reggie Corner their own.
"My family was always there to support me during home games," Corner said. "They have been telling me that they're really looking forward to watching me play at home again."