George Kunz was one of the best offensive tackles of his era … maybe any era … but he’s not in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Worse, despite being named to eight Pro Bowls, he’s never been discussed.
But Kunz never played on a championship team. He played for the Atlanta Falcons and the Baltimore Colts in the 1970s, and while the Colts won three straight division titles that decade they never won a playoff game. Nevertheless, they were one of the game’s most entertaining clubs, mostly because of their charismatic young quarterback.
“Bert was an outstanding person and an outstanding athlete,” Kunz said on the latest Talk of Fame Network broadcast, “(and) don’t forget Bert’s father is Dub Jones, and Dub is 92 and was a receiver with the Cleveland Browns when Otto Graham was there. So Bert had a great football knowledge. In addition to that, don’t forget that his younger brother, Tom, was the quarterback at Arkansas when Bert was in the pros. So he came from a football background.
“His leadership style was straight forward. He was in your face, and that’s something that I think a quarterback needs to be. But the other part of Bert that was really, really interesting was that he listened to his players. He listened to the guys up front. I told him on a couple of occasions when he had a read, and he used that information profitably.”
Jones’ career was cut short by injury, but when he first broke into the game there were few better at his position. In fact, Jones was named the league’s MVP in 1976 when the Colts won the second of three straight AFC championships.
In 1975-77, Jones was 31-11, with 59 touchdown passes and 28 interceptions and a league-leading 3,104 yards passing in 1976. He was tough. He was athletic. He was dynamic. And he was so good that years later when New England coach Bill Belichick was asked what quarterback — other than Tom Brady — he’d choose for his football team, he said, “I would put Bert Jones up there. Bert Jones was a tremendous player.”
But there was more to those Colts than Jones. There was, of course, Kunz and a solid offensive line. There was also the “Sack Pack,” a search-and-destroy front four that hunted down quarterbacks. And there was a terrific head coach in Ted Marchibroda.
“I think Ted came over from the Washington Redskins with great offensive knowledge, which really helped Bert. Ted was a pragmatist. He knew exactly what was going on; he knew the weaknesses, and he could spot them on defense.
“The other guy who I think is a saint was Whitey Duvall, who was my offensive line coach — a wonderful person and a great, outstanding coach. He knew how to get each individual that he coached personally to make them better. So you throw that together with Bert, and, all of a sudden, you’ve got something you can be pretty proud of.”
And the Colts did. From 1975-77 only one AFC team — Oakland — had more regular-season victories than Baltimore. Pittsburgh, which won four Super Bowls in the 1970s, tied the Colts with 31.