Some enshrinee busts at the Pro Football Hall of Fame now speak to visitors.

Some of the busts in the enshrinees gallery at the Pro Football Hall of Fame are speaking to us, and we should listen.

It was enshrinee John Madden who first suspected such conversations were taking place.

“Here is the deal: I think over in the Hall of Fame, that during the day, the people go through, they look at everything. At night, there's a time when they all leave. All the fans and all the visitors leave the Hall of Fame. Then there's just the workers. Then the workers start to leave. It gets down to there's just one person. That person turns out the light, locks the door," Madden explained in his enshrinement speech in 2006.

“I believe that the busts talk to each other. I can't wait for that conversation, I really can't. Vince Lombardi, … Reggie (White), Walter Payton, all my ex-players. We'll be there forever and ever and ever talking about whatever. That's what I believe. That's what I think is going to happen, and no one's ever going to talk me out of that.”

It was hopeful speculation by the Hall of Fame coach, at the time, but, now, busts of enshrinees in the Hall of Fame Gallery indeed do talk. And one of the first voices to be heard is that of Madden himself, according to a page posted at the Hall of Fame's website in January of this year.

“John Madden’s vision from his enshrinement speech is now a reality thanks to transformational technology,” Hall of Fame President & CEO David Baker stated in the online posting. “Fans visiting the Hall of Fame will soon be able to interact with the Bronzed Busts to listen to inspiring stories and learn how the values from the Game have shaped the lives of Greatest Heroes of the Game.”

Starts With Tests

Granted, the busts won't be engaged in idle conversations that wonder about the weather or wish away their aches and pains.

"Thank God we're not full-sized statues. My knees would hurt ..."

Busts won't kid each other about their relative playing abilities.

"I owned you 40 years ago in the league championship game ..."

The earliest of the enshrinees won't question fellow football heroes about the latest additions to the gallery of heroes.

"Hey, what's the story with the new guys?"

And, as the "Talking Bronzed Bust" project gets underway at the Hall of Fame, only a couple of the busts currently will speak. Madden himself is one of them.

"Fans will soon be greeted into the Hall of Fame Gallery in Canton by Madden’s interactive bust," said the web page explanation a few months ago. "With hours of storytelling built into the experience at launch, fans can ask, 'What was it like getting carried off the field after winning the Super Bowl?' or 'What was it like to coach opposite Vince Lombardi?' and get lost in conversation with the legendary coach."

How It's Done

Madden's interactive bronze bust was unveiled earlier this year at the Super Bowl Experience in Atlanta. Later, the originating company, StatMuse, collaborating with the Hall of Fame, "rolled out" the artificial intelligence technology in the enshrinees gallery at the Hall.

"StatMuse creates an interactive digital persona by first capturing a series of specialized images and high-resolution 3D scans of the original bust," said the website. "A 3D character artist then constructs a virtual bust, optimized for a mobile-based AR (augmented reality) experience. StatMuse used its proprietary in-studio software to record Madden's iconic voice and storytelling flair, simultaneously capturing audio and facial motion data."

Visitors can enjoy "conversing" with talking busts — another one is Michael Strahan — if they use their cell phones or take advantage of computer tablets made available by museum docents.

"When fans hold a mobile device in front of John Madden’s (Interactive) Bronzed Bust, they will see it come to life on-screen — moving, talking and interacting with them."

It isn't the middle of the night when this conversation occurs. Visitors still are present in the museum. No maintenance worker has turned off lights and locked doors.

The museum remains open for the "Talking Bronzed Bust" conversations.

Still, the essence of what John Madden imagined so long ago has come true through technology.

The Hall of Fame enshrinee busts speak, if not to each other, at least to us. And, after all, isn't that what our heroes should do?