Football fans would be envious of Kristi Brown’s recent weekend.
She was inducted into the Ford Hall of Fans at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, on Friday, Aug. 6.
Scott Denby, Ford Motor Co. brand partnership manager, and David Baker, chief executive officer and president of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, presented Brown and her fellow inductees with the hall’s blue jacket and ring during the ceremony.
“This has been a dream-come-true weekend,” said Brown, who lives in Peoria. “We’ve been nonstop. Every second has been enjoyable. Our flight landed at 3 p.m. Ohio time, and we just dropped our stuff off at the hotel and went to the Hall of Fame game.
“The next morning, our enshrinement, we received our rings and jackets. We have our own little section in the Hall of Fame, which is just incredible.”
A former Arizona Cardinals cheerleader, Brown is a labor and delivery nurse. She’s a second-generation season-ticket holder and devoted Cardinals training camp attendee.
After her son was diagnosed with Chiari malformation, Brown’s biggest passion is now raising awareness to help find a cure for the disease. Chiari malformation is a condition in which brain tissue extends into the spinal canal.
Her fellow inductees are Ray Prisby, a Cleveland Browns fan, and Wayne Mabry, who follows the Raiders.
Brown said driving past the Hall of Fame gave her “butterflies.”
“You feel inspired,” Brown said. “That’s the best way you can put it. They took us up to this room and did interviews with us. I was all decked out in my Cardinals gear. They have an encasing with our memorabilia. We have a bronze plaque on the wall in the Hall of Fame forever. It was amazing. It was so special.”
Brown has been an Arizona Cardinals fan since she was 3 years old, when she sat in the blistering heat at Sun Devil Stadium.
There was just something she couldn’t resist about the tackles and the Hail Mary passes. She also couldn’t help but be impassioned by the cheerleaders.
“I waved at the cheerleaders, and one of them waved back,” Brown said. “I was sold after that.”
Brown learned of her nomination from Cardinals legend and Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee Aeneas Williams.
“I heard about the contest, but you never think you’re good enough to get to a certain point like that,” Brown said. “Just getting to show my love of my team to others is great. If I can make one person a Cardinals fan, that’s my goal.”
Brown is passionate about the game. She doesn’t paint her face or “get crazy about it.” She said she just has such a love in her heart for the team.
“I feel like they’re a member of my family,” Brown said. “My family raised me as a Cardinals fan. I’m raising my two boys as Cardinals fans. I love the organization for what they do on and off the field.”
As a cheerleader, she took part in community events, so she had a behind-the-scenes look at what they did.
“They have Play 360. They build fields for kids. Kids have to be active and follow their dreams. They’re super active with Phoenix Children’s Hospital. It’s great,” she said.
Now, she’s just as excited about the Cardinals’ latest acquisition, J.J. Watt.
“Oh, my gosh,” she said. “I work the night shift. I sleep during the day, and my phone was dinging like crazy. I thought it was an emergency. I looked at 11:30 in the morning — which is my middle of the night — and I could not get back to bed because I was so excited.
“I can’t wait for the season. He is such a class act — on and off the field. I can’t wait to just have him impact our community. He’s so wonderful.”