The Jets may not be the most storied franchise in NFL history, or even their own division, but like all teams they have had their share of players that were not only some of the best players on the team at the time, but were some of the greatest men to play and thereby transcend the game of football.
I would like to present this list of 5 great Jets who were among the greatest in NFL history, yet have been overlooked as candidates to enter the Pro Football Hall of Fame:
Let me start by saying that Mark Gastineau is the only reason Mark Gastineau is not in the Hall of Fame. And by that I mean he had all of the tools to be one of the greatest pass rushers of all time. No other player (officially) has ever recorded back-to-back season with 20+ sacks. However, his numerous off-the-field problems leaked onto the field and destroyed his production. In honesty though, perhaps he still would not have had good consideration since he had to share the wealth with one of the greatest D-lines in history.
One of the most solid linebackers in AFL history, and a 5-time All Star that played through the entire period of the AFL. Maybe these numbers don't blow anybody away, but he wrecked absolute havoc against some of the greatest QBs in NFL history.
Here is something that seems inconsistent with Hall of Famer selection: Numbers, numbers, numbers! Hill has them with 8 Pro Bowls and AFL/AFC All-Star Teams, arguably the best Offensive Lineman in AFL history and the man who blocked for one of the greatest running back tandems ever AND ensured that Joe Namath stayed on his feet long enough to become a Hall of Famer. Granted the competition did NOT include all of the greatest defensive players of his generation. But come on! He has Pro Bowls, All-Pros, and a Super Bowl ring. What else is there?
How does a RB with more rushing yards than JIM BROWN not get in the Hall in his first year of eligibility? I would partially blame it on the fact that he was nearly always considered 3rd best behind Emmitt Smith and Barry Sanders, and later Edgerrin James and LaDanian Tomlinson. Nonetheless, he retired with 5 pro-bowls, the number 4 all-time leader in Rushing, a perfect 2-for-2 TDs passing, and even won the rushing title at age 31!
THE NUMBER ONE NEW YORK JET THAT BELONGS IN THE HALL OF FAME:
Imagine a defensive lineman with Haloti Ngata's strength and technique with Justin Tuck's versatility. If you had that you would have about two-thirds the player that Joe Klecko was. Regarded by many Hall of Fame O-Linemen as one of the best defensive linemen they ever played against, Klecko was named to Pro Bowls at not one, not two, but THREE different D-line positions - no other defensive player has ever matched that feat. The very fact that this 1981 Defensive Player of the Year is not in the Hall of Fame is almost as big a travesty as Green Bay's Jerry Kramer not being in.
Well there's my list. If you think I have the order wrong, left someone out or should have removed someone from the list, leave a comment.