Following is my list of 9 men who deserve to be in the hall-of-fame. The Pro Football Hall of Fame is always a hot topic for debate, the criteria for induction is left to a handful of people who, let’s face it, do not always vote objectively. It often appears to be a popularity contest where actual achievement takes a back seat to several factors: Was the player/coach was friendly with the media? Did the player/coach run their mouth to attract attention? Did the player/coach seem like a “nice” guy? I think if you look at the Pro Football Hall of Fame, there are, without a doubt, some guys who deserve to be inducted. Today we are going to look at ten of these people who, in my view, have been unfairly overlooked. Not in any particular order, here is my list:
1) Robert Brazile
The original prototype 3-4 pass rushing outside linebacker. Before there was Lawrence Taylor, there was Robert Brazile. Brazile was named the 1975 Defensive Rookie of the Year and went on to be selected to seven straight Pro Bowls. He is the only linebacker to be named to the 1970’s NFL All-Decade team not to be enshrined in Canton. In his legendary career, Brazile amassed 1,281 tackles, 48 sacks and 13 interceptions and to this day holds the record for most straight game played by an outside linebacker at 147. He wasn’t a “look at me” guy. He was a man who did his job and he did it better than most.
2) Joe Klecko
Klecko rose to fame as part of the “New York Sack Exchange” in the early 1980s along with Abdul Salaam, Marty Lyons and Mark Gastineau. Their best year was 1981 when the four accounted for an amazing 66 sacks with 20.5 by the Pro Bowl bound Klecko. In 1983, Klecko was forced to move from defensive end to defensive tackle and was once again named to the AFC Pro Bowl team. In 1985, the Jets went with a 3-4 defense and moved Klecko to nose tackle where, yet again, he made the Pro Bowl at a third position joining Frank Gifford as the only two players in NFL history to be selected to the Pro Bowl at three different positions. Dwight Stephenson, the great Miami Dolphins center, said that Klecko was one of the two toughest defensive lineman he ever faced.
3) Ken Anderson
Anderson is widely known as one of the first quarterbacks to run the West Coast offense under Bill Walsh who was the Cincinnati Bengals’ offensive coordinator. Anderson led the NFL in passing on four separate occasions – 1974, 75, 81 and 82 – and he was named league MVP in 1981. In 1982, he became the first quarterback in NFL history to complete over 70% of his passes for an entire season. That year, he also set the record for most consecutive complete passes in a single game with 20 against the Houston Oilers. Anderson made four Pro Bowls, threw for almost 33,000 yards, 197 TD passes and had a career quarterback rating of 82.
4) Tom Flores
One of only three Head Coaches to win two Super Bowls and not be in the Hall of Fame. Flores finished his playing career as the 5th rated passer in AFL history, won a Super Bowl as a player, an assistant coach and a head coach. Herein lies one of my big gripes about the hall of Fame selection process right here: Marv Levy LOST four Super Bowls and is in. Flores WON two and is not. I would love to find someone who thinks Levy accomplished more in his NFL coaching career than Flores.
5) L.C. Greenwood
When I started doing research for this article, I didn’t realize that Greenwood, a dominant force on one of the greatest defenses in NFL history, was not in the Hall of Fame. Greenwood was a six time pro bowler, 4 time Super Bowl Champion and was named to the NFL’s All-Decade team for the 1970s. He finished his career with 73.5 sacks and added 5 sacks in 4 Super Bowl games.
6) Roger Craig
The stat that says it all about Roger Craig is this: every year he played in the NFL, his team made the playoffs. Craig was the first player in NFL history to rush and receive for 1,000 yards in the same season. In Super Bowl XIX, he became the first person to score 3 touchdowns in a single Super Bowl game. Craig was a complete player who accounted for 13,000 combined yards in his career and scored 73 touchdowns.
7) Dan Reeves
Here is another Marv Levy comparison. Dan Reeves has been a participant in nine Super Bowls winning two. He made it as a player, assistant coach and Head Coach. He led two different teams to Super Bowls and led the New York Giants to their first playoff berth in 3 years where he was named the 1993 Coach of the year. Reeves was also named Coach of the Year in 1998 for his tremendous job in leading the Atlanta Falcons to the Super Bowl. Again, how does Marv Levy merit Hall of Fame consideration before Reeves.
8) Steve Atwater
One of the hardest hitting safeties in NFL history who was runner-up to Derrick Thomas as the 1989 Defensive Rookie of the Year when he amassed 126 tackles. Atwater teamed with the great Dennis Smith in Denver to make up one of the greatest safety tandems in NFL history (A Hall of Fame case can easily for Smith as well). Super Bowl XXXII saw Atwater play one of the greatest games a Safety has ever played in a Super Bowl where he had six tackles, 1 sack, 2 passes defensed and had a huge hit on Green Bay’s final drive. Atwater was also an 8 time Pro Bowl selection and a member of the 1990s All-Decade team.
9) Jim Plunkett
How many retired NFL QBs have won two or more Super Bowls and are NOT in the Hall of Fame? Just one: Jim Plunkett. I know his regular season stats were less than stellar but so were Joe Namath’s. Yes, Namath won a Super Bowl but Plunkett won two. Jim Plunkett is a great American story, Plunkett grew up in poverty, his father was afflicted with progressive blindness and his mother was blind. So I guess you could say his career mirrored his childhood. His early years prior to attending Stanford University were rough but Plunkett always persevered. The most important trait to have as a quarterback is the ability to lead other men and to overcome all obstacles. Plunkett exemplified the true American spirit on the field and, more importantly, off the field. Plunkett came out of Stanford in 1971 with a Heisman Trophy and great expectations. He enjoyed initial success winning the NFL Rookie of the Year award. However, the next eight years of his career were plagued by injuries and playing on poor teams. Plunkett joined the Oakland Raiders in 1978. In 1980, Plunkett got his big break, taking over in the fifth game of the season for an injured Dan Pastorini leading the Raiders to a 9-2 record and a Wild Card Playoff berth. The Raiders went on to win the Super Bowl over the Philadelphia Eagles that year with Plunkett being named the game’s Most Valuable Player. Three years later, Plunkett led the Raiders to another Super Bowl victory when they triumphed over the Washington Redskins. Jim Plunkett accomplished more in his career and life than most ever do and is very deserving of induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.