Sam Baker led the NFL with 17 field goals in 1956 and led the league in scoring with 77 points in 1957. He then led the NFL in punting with a 45.4-yard average in 1958. He followed that up with a career-best 45.5-yard average in 1959.
Three times in his career Jimmy Orr led the NFL with his average per catch – 27.6 yards in 1958, 25.6 yards in 1968 and 21.7 yards in 1964. The NFL leader in 2017 was Detroit’s Marvin Jones at 18.1 yards per catch. Orr’s career average of 19.8 yards per catch is eighth best in NFL history.
George Saimes as a member of the AFL’s All-Time team and one of the two best safeties in that league’s history. He was also a member of the Buffalo Bills’ 50th Anniversary team. Yet he has been ignored by the Hall of Fame for 43 years. Why?
Jake Scott is tied with his former safety running mate Houston on the NFL’s all-time interception list with 49. But Houston played five more seasons. Scott also has one more career interception than Hall of Fame safety Willie Wood. And Wood played three more seasons.
Howard Cosell once called Russ Francis “the world’s greatest tight end.” He was a three-time All-Pro recruited by 49ers’ head coach Bill Walsh to come and play for him even though he’d retired from pro football after only six seasons. He was a transcendent star. Was he also really the best tight end ever?
When you play 17 seasons, start 228 games, go to six Pro Bowls, block for two NFL rushing champions and win a Super Bowl as Ray Donaldson has, you certainly deserve to have your career discussed and debated to determine where you game fits in an historical context.
After the AFL and NFL merged in 1970, there was a two-year window when Otis Taylor was the best wide receiver in football. He went to his first two Pro Bowls in 1971-72 and was a two-time first-team All-Pro. In 1971, he was the only player in the NFL with 1,000 yards in receptions.