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Hall of Fame Class of 2012 receive gold jackets

CANTON, Ohio -- We are one step closer to turning six former NFL players into permanent members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Friday night's Gold Jacket Dinner saw the 2012 Class of Enshrinees slip on their Hall of Fame coats for the very first time. That was our reason for being here, but this was much more than a fashion show.

It's easy to forget that among the many thousands of men to play the game, only 273 have worn these threads. That message was not lost on the crowd here at Canton's Memorial Civic Center.

One by one, six men -- Jack Butler, Dermontti Dawson, Chris Doleman, Cortez Kennedy, Curtis Martin and Willie Roaf -- were introduced to a packed, feverish house.

This year's enshrinees were then joined on stage -- in a sequence that felt ripped from some Internet-age sequel to "Braveheart" -- by each member of the Hall of Fame who made the trek to Canton this week.

Fact: A roomful of legends never gets old.

Yes, there's plenty of silliness and cynicism surrounding pro sports here in 2012. We cover it, and you read about it, every day.

Tonight, by contrast, was a rare departure into something genuine.

Canton has done it again.

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