- Associated Press - Saturday, July 2, 2016

Ever dream of sitting in a pro football locker room, learning life lessons from the legends of the game?

The Pro Football Hall of Fame will be providing the next best thing: a holographic film experience called “A Game For Life” featuring representations of Joe Namath, Vince Lombardi, George Halas and many others.

“I think it gives the fans a real sense of being in a locker room atmosphere and how we convey some things to one another as players, coaches and as former players,” Namath says. “Sitting in this dressing room and having the experience with the hologram technique and feeling what we have to say will have an impact.”

Created through a two-year collaboration of leaders from the film industry, writers of inspirational sports projects and efforts from a leading museum design firm, “A Game For Life” is expected to open by the end of the month. Immersive Artistry, the company that put everything together, says the exhibit will be ready just as football fans are gearing up for another season.

“It just happened to be a moment in time where everybody burned the midnight candle, and it was worth it,” says Cary Granat, CEO of Immersive Artistry. “We recognize if someone is coming to the Hall of Fame, they are coming already with some level of participation or having that connection to football. To build something to come to life, the last thing we wanted was something that would feel artificial.

“I think visitors will find a new sense of relevancy for the lessons of the game.”

The Hall of Fame, based in Canton, Ohio, has undergone significant changes and upgrades under its current president, David Baker. One thing he has stressed is “bringing to life our assets,” says Joe Horrigan, the hall’s executive vice president.

“With the new direction for the hall, this kind of defines a new beginning for us,” Horrigan explains. “Making the Hall of Fame more of a complete entertainment package and living up to our strict museum standards at the same time.”

The exhibit will allow fans to enter a stadium-themed preshow tunnel where they will see a video presentation that explains the odds of making it to the Hall of Fame; only 303 people have.

A main set is designed to look and feel like an NFL locker room for Hall of Famers. Small groups of visitors enter and are treated to a multitude of physical, visual and audio elements.

The holographic host for this intimate setting is none other than Namath, who Horrigan calls “kind of the perfect guy. He’s a high-profile Hall of Famer and a majority of the people know him. … His iconic ‘I guarantee it’ is kind of part of this whole theme: be confident, work hard and anything is possible.”

After Namath introduces the audience to the presentation, he turns to a “magical chalkboard” where his fellow Hall of Famers share their inspiring stories about how the lessons learned from the game have carried them through life.

“Teamwork: you can’t get by in life without sharing with people,” Namath says. “Confidence. Respect. Never giving up. So much of everyday life that you need is in that game.

“Sitting in this ‘dressing room’ and having the experience with the hologram technique and feeling what we have to say will have an impact.”

Holograms of actors portraying the late Lombardi and Halas offer motivational messages as if they were addressing one of their championship teams. Other “gold jackets” such as Jim Brown, Alan Page, Jim Kelly, Curtis Martin and Steve Largent share their inspirational stories.

As the exhibit progresses in years to come, there is the capability to include many more Hall of Famers, keeping it fresh.

“This is only the first piece,” Granat says. “The people who are in it now are going to be cycled so during the course of the years, it is likely you will see different players talking to you. It is meant to have a fluidity to it.”

The locker room setting was the idea of Baker, Horrigan and other hall executives. Horrigan thought holographics were a “gimmick” until he saw them in action and was instantly sold on the idea.

“For all of us who are fans and love the game of football, the one place we don’t get to go is the locker room,” Baker says. “The locker room is a classroom, cathedral, church, where some of the greatest lessons in life are taught.”

Granat expects visitors to “A Game For Life” to be in awe.

“People will come out of this thing mesmerized,” he says. “You are going to walk out of this and want to run to the rest of the museum for the rest of the experience.”

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP_NFL

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