(John Hannah photo courtesy of New England Patriots)
(Joe Klecko photo courtesy of New York Jets)
Talk of Fame Network
Former New York Jets’ defensive lineman Joe Klecko just gained a vote for the Hall of Fame. Unfortunately, it’s not from one of the selectors.
But it is from someone who knows more about Klecko than most — former New England star John Hannah, who had to block Klecko twice each season.
On the latest Talk of Fame Network broadcast, The Hall-of-Fame guard Sports Illustrated once called the “Best Offensive Lineman of All Time” said if he were given one pass for Canton – that is, a place there for someone who’s not already in the Pro Football Hall of Fame – he would give it to Klecko, the best defensive player in Jets’ history.
“Everybody asks me who’s the best I ever played against,” Hannah said. “Well, if you’re talking about maybe the best pass rushers I ever played against, the best pass rushers were Alan Page and Randy White, bar none. If you ask me who were the best run guys, I would tell you ‘Refrigerator’ Perry and (Ernie) Holmes from Pittsburgh because they’re so just daggone big it’s like trying to move a house.
“But if you’re talking about an all-around player – pass, run, the whole thing – the kind that was never going to quit, there are two guys who come to mind. One’s in the Hall of Fame, and that’s Howie Long. And the second one is Joe Klecko. He’s an all-day sucker. He came at you all the time.”
Klecko was so good he was named to the Pro Bowl at three different positions – defensive tackle, nose tackle and defensive end – with Hall-of-Fame center Dwight Stephenson calling him one of the two best interior linemen he ever faced.
And it’s easy to see why: Klecko produced a league-best 20-1/2 sacks in 1981 when the Jets had a team-record 66, and Klecko was named AFC Defensive Player of the Year. But sacks weren’t recognized as an official statistic until a year later, and Klecko retired with only 24 credited to his name.
A four-time Pro Bowler and two-time All-Pro, Klecko never was a finalist as a modern-era candidate for the Hall of Fame and now is in his third year as a senior candidate, with the Hall choosing one nominee later this month.