Best TE not in Canton? It’s Retzlaff, for Pete’s sake


Talk of Fame Network

Former Philadelphia tight end Pete Retzlaff isn’t in the Hall of Fame … but he would be if our readers sat on the board of selectors.

Retzlaff won our latest election – pulling down 43 percent of the vote for the best tight end who’s eligible for the Hall but not in it. Former Oakland Raiders’ great Todd Christensen was second, with 27 percent, while Mark Bavaro (16 percent) and Ben Coates (14 percent) completed the field.

Retzlaff was a popular choice among our three board members, too, with Clark Judge and Rick Gosselin each choosing the former NFL Player of the Year.

“He helped to create the position and was the first to master it,” said Gosselin. “Without Pete, there may not have been a Bavaro, Christensen or Coates.”

A five-time Pro Bowl choice, Retzlaff led the league in catches in 1958 with 56 receptions — and he did that despite having never had a catch in college. Seven years later, he had 66 receptions and 10 touchdowns and was named recipient of the Bert Bell award as the league’s player of the year.

Nevertheless, Ron Borges wasn’t impressed. He liked Coates better. In fact, he liked Coates best.

“They were all great players,” he said. “Retzlaff was a pioneer at the position and Christensen was a real weapon as a receiver, while Bavaro was a fearsome blocker. But Ben Coates was the prototype of the modern tight end, with his combination of size, speed and athleticism. He could beat you up or beat you deep. He’s my first choice.”

He wasn’t the first choice of our readers. Pete Retzlaff was, and remember that, Rick and Ron, next time you meet with the Hall of Fame’s seniors committee. You now have a mandate — namely, move Pete Retzlaff to the short list for Hall-of-Fame induction.

NFL Historical Imagery

(Photo Courtesy of the Philadelphia Eagles)

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