Rome, June 21, 2017
On Wednesday, June 21, the Embassy received a delegation from the PRO Football Hall of Fame during their visit to Rome and the Vatican City. The delegation included Jerry Jones, the longtime owner of the Dallas Cowboys, who will be inducted into the Hall of Fame in August, as well as six current members of the Hall of Fame, including Curtis Martin, Ronnie Lott, and Franco Harris, who made the famed “Immaculate Reception” in 1972.
They spent the morning in the Vatican City in a private audience with Pope Francis, who said “as many of you know, I am an avid follower of ‘football,’ but where I come from, the game is played very differently.” The delegation also gave him a custom “Papa Francesco” jersey and helmet. Harris, whose mother was born and raised in Italy, gave an interview with RAI television, recounting his mother’s influence on him as an Italian-American, and he also encouraged Italians to pick up football as a team activity.