Cardinals running backs Chris Johnson (left) and David Johnson are at different points in their careers but both hope to make the Hall of Fame.
CANTON, Ohio – Cardinals stars won't be zipping around the field during the Hall of Fame Game against the Cowboys on Thursday, as coach Bruce Arians is sitting his entire starting lineup to avoid injury.
Instead, it will be their imaginations that run wild.
While Canton has a population under 75,000 with few bells and whistles, it's nonetheless a destination more sought after than any tropical island for many NFL players. Anyone can take a Caribbean vacation. Only the select few get inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame.
"It's something that every player dreams of," safety Tyrann Mathieu said. "A lot of the guys that we looked up to growing up, a lot of those guys are in the Hall of Fame. It means a lot to the guys that actually love football, have a passion for it. Guys want to win championships, and also, one day, they want to be in the Hall of Fame."
The Cardinals are here to help celebrate this weekend's induction of former star quarterback Kurt Warner, who capped a storybook career by leading the team to the Super Bowl after the 2008 season.
The current team has a few players who could join him one day.
Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald is a shoo-in whenever he decides to retire, and cornerback Patrick Peterson is off to a great start. Running back Chris Johnson hasn't sustained his excellence as long as Fitzgerald, but was arguably the league's most electric player for a multiple-year stretch with the Titans.
"You always look at the guys that go in before you and see the type of things that they have done, like, what's your chances?" Johnson said. "By me continuing to play year after year and putting up numbers, I always think about those things."
Johnson said he hasn't compared his statistics too closely to the current Hall of Fame running backs, but believes he has a legitimate shot at a Canton enshrinement. He's 463 yards away from 10,000 for his career, and thinks passing that threshold would cement his legacy.
"Some of the things that I've done in this league, some of the records that I still have, I'm pretty sure I should have a good chance," Johnson said.
Johnson is much closer to retirement than the Cardinals' starting running back, David Johnson, but the young star also had the Hall of Fame on his mind this week. He went to the same college as Warner, and was asked which player deserved the moniker of best Northern Iowa product.
"He's in the Hall of Fame, I'm not," Johnson said. "I've got to give it to him, but hopefully one day I will be."
Arians has been coaching in the NFL for decades, but even he gets awestruck on the tour of the Hall of Fame museum which houses busts of all the all-time greats.
"It's unbelievable," Arians said. "I've been through it a number of times. It's chilling to go through it."
Chris Johnson played in this game with the Titans in 2009. His most memorable moment came pregame when the Hall of Famers were announced as he warmed up. This could be Johnson's final time back as a player, but he's hoping the call comes in for one more return trip.
"Once I get done playing this game, I want to look up and get that jacket," Johnson said.
Images from a one-on-one drill at practice on Tuesday