As much as I love watching the Pro Football Hall of Fame Induction Ceremonies (tonight, 7 p.m., ESPN), the last 20 or so years I’ve had to shake my head when I hear all of these speeches.
I mean, Warren Sapp is a great player and all and deserves to be in the Hall of Fame but does anyone who saw both Sapp and Joe Klecko in their primes REALLY think Sapp is a better player?
I didn’t think so.
Joe Klecko deserves to get into the Hall of Fame, as the great New York Times’ columnist Dave Anderson argues in this well-written piece.
Sapp wasn’t as a strong an interior presence as Klecko, never occupied as many blockers as Klecko and, unlike Klecko, was too fat and slow to get to the quarterback on a regular basis. But what can be said about the Sapp/Klecko comparison can also be said about the Dan Hampton/Klecko comparison or a number of other linemen who are already in with Klecko out.
Klecko led the league in sacks with 20 1/2 in 1981 and Sapp never led the league in sacks. Sapp’s season-high in sacks was 16 1/2 in 2000 and had only three other double-digit sack years.
Yet Sapp will get up there, make his speech and sit down and I will think that should have been Joe.
I hope that Temple people and Jets people can combine forces and push the Hall to get Joe Klecko in, if not next year, then the year after.
I do know when Al Golden got up and spoke for coach Wayne Hardin that made a little bit of a difference and I would hope that Matt Rhule does what he can to add his voice to the call for Klecko into the Hall, as do the New York Jets’ players, coaches and fans.
My only beef with Joe is a very minor one. When his son, Dan, played at Temple, he used to tailgate with us all of the time. At one game at Rutgers, I turned to Joe and said, “Now, Joe, just because Dan’s career here comes to an end, that doesn’t mean you have to stop tailgating with us.”
Joe turned to me, looked me in the eye and said: “Mike, I’ll still come back and tailgate with you guys, I promise you that.”
Joe’s never been back, but that should not disqualify him from the Hall of Fame.
The Joe Klecko Hall of Fame Facebook Page