Pro Football Hall of Fame week is one of the most wonderful times of the year on the NFL calendar.
Players receive the greatest honor of their lives as they are immortalized forever in Canton, Ohio. This year was extra special because of the ripple effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
Last year the Hall of Fame was unable to host the normal festivities, which forced them to combine the 2020 class with the 2021 class — resulting in the biggest group of HOFs in history.
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A Legendary Jet Cements His Place in History
One of the members of that 2020 class that was supposed to be inducted last year, finally received the honor and dedication they deserved on Saturday, August 7.
Offensive tackle Winston Hill spent 14 of his 15 professional seasons with the New York Jets and became a pillar of the organization from the outset. On the PFHOF website, they list Hill as one of “the game’s best pass protectors.”
For 13 of his 15 years in the league, Hill protected the blindside of fellow Hall of Famer ‘Broadway’ Joe Namath, including their last professional season being spent together on the Los Angeles Rams.
It’s not hyperbolic to say that without Hill being a stalwart on the offensive line for the Jets, there’s no Super Bowl championship. You can guarantee that.
Namath, who became the first 4,000-yard passer in NFL history (and still the only 4K passer in Jets team history), achieved that milestone because of Hill’s domination. He had it all: size, strength, and most importantly durability (the best ability you can have as a player is availability).
He went a dozen years without missing a game, that’s reliability.
Sadly five years ago Hill passed away at the age of 74, on Saturday night his bust was officially unveiled by his two daughters on stage. He was inducted posthumously and live on forever with the other football immortals in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
1 Jets Legend Has Been Immortalized, Another Continues to Wait
Hill became the 18th member of the Jets franchise to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The longtime offensive tackle was long overdue to be enshrined and finally, he got his just due.
This has inspired hope in a lot of Jets fans that another longtime legend can finally hear that historic door knock as he receives the news of becoming an immortal.
Joe Klecko is arguably the biggest Pro Football Hall of Fame snub that is on the outside looking in. He was unable to make it into the HOF during his 20 years of eligibility (you become eligible five years after you retire and you’re on the ballot for 20 years).
Speaking with people from around the league there have been a few factors that have gone against the legend, whether fairly or unfairly:
- Sack statistic: he was credited with only 24 sacks on the official stat sheet, however, he recorded 20.5 sacks in 1981 but sacks weren’t an official stat yet so they don’t count.
- No Super Bowl championship: while the NFL is a team game, players are often punished by lack of championship success or appearances.
- Lack of media coverage: sure the Jets played in the world’s biggest media market, but teams weren’t covered back then how they’re now. If your team was bad, it didn’t get any press.
Despite all of those factors and everything that has gone wrong in the past, there’s a chance he’ll finally be able to break through soon.
A longtime advocate of Klecko getting into the Hall of Fame, Gary Myers was named to the nine-member senior committee. He will be a supporting voice in the room to hopefully convince everyone what we already know in our hearts, Klecko is a Hall of Famer.
On August 24, the senior committee will vote and narrow down a list of candidates to 10. Only one senior will make it into Canton over the next three years, so the chances are small, but I’m saying there’s a chance.