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Utah sculptor who memorializes NFL Hall of Famers recalls friendship with John Madden

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PLEASANT GROVE — The 2022 NFL Hall of Fame class is set, and the person responsible for sculpting the busts is a Utah man named Blair Buswell, a former BYU football player who has memorialized over 120 NFL Hall of Famers.

Buswell will measure their faces and prepare to sculpt their likenesses for a bust that will hang in the Hall of Fame — just like he's done for 40 years.

"I've been pinching myself a lot lately," Buswell told

The North Ogden native and one-time BYU walk-on running back has used his talents to sculpt some of the biggest names in professional football. From Sid Gillman in 1983 to Payton Manning, Steve Young, Bill Walsh, Eddie DeBartolo, Terry Bradshaw — all of them have sat with Buswell as he's molded their faces and exchanged stories about football and life.

One of his all-time favorites was the late John Madden, who started as a player and grew to become a legendary coach, broadcaster and video game entrepreneur, inducted into the Hall in 2006. While some of Buswell's subjects were simply that, eager to get in and out of his studio as quickly as possible, Madden was enamored with the entire process, and the two grew to become fast friends.

"His knowledge of the game is just crazy," Buswell said. "But stories about each guy — he just started talking about each one of the guys in the room. It was just a football history day — one of my favorites I've done in close to 40 years."

Buswell recalled his friendship with the legendary coach and Madden's dreams of late-night conversations with other inductees in the Hall's museum. Madden believed that when the lights went off in the museum, the legendary football players talked to each other — something Madden was excited to join.

Click the video above for more stories between the two friends.


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