(Editor’s note: Bobby Boyd passed away Monday, Aug. 28, at the age of 79. Clark Judge stated his case for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in this 2015 column.)
Like it or not, pass rushers are defined by sacks and cornerbacks by interceptions.
Six of the league’s top eight sack leaders are in Canton, with a seventh (Kevin Greene) in the on-deck circle and an eighth (Jason Taylor) not yet eligible, while seven of the NFL’s eligible career interception leaders are in the Hall, too.
So how come we’ve heard nothing about former Baltimore Colts’ cornerback Bobby Boyd?
I wish I knew. He’s tied for 13th in all-time interceptions with 57, and, while impressive, that’s not what gets your attention. This is: He played nine seasons, or 121 games, and do the math, people. That’s almost an interception every two starts, which should make him a serious candidate for discussion to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Yet it hasn’t happened. And it should.
I didn’t say he should be voted in. I’m saying I’d like to have the Hall take up his candidacy. Period. After all, Bobby Boyd was a key starter on one of the league’s most successful teams – the Baltimore Colts of the 1960s, a club that went to two league championship games – and was a three-time All-Pro.
I sometimes make the cases for players by comparing them to others who either are considered Hall-of-Fame worthy or already in the Hall, and Boyd is no different. So let’s look at him vs. Jack Butler, chosen for the Hall in 2012 as one of its two senior candidates. Butler and Boyd not only played the same position; they played the same number of seasons, so the comparison has legitimacy.
Boyd had five more interceptions, 167 more interception yards and as many defensive touchdowns. He not only was third in career interceptions when he retired; he averaged a staggering 6.3 interceptions per season for his career. Like Butler, he was named to an all-decade team. Unlike Butler, he’s not in Canton.
But that’s not all that separates them. Boyd had interceptions in every year, including a career-best nine in each of the 1964 and ’65 seasons, and never had fewer than six in any of his last five. Butler did not, blanked in the 12 games he played in 1955.
Boyd also played on very good teams. Butler did not. In fact, during Boyd’s nine-year career, the Colts went to the 1964 and 1968 championship games. They lost in ’64 to the Cleveland Browns, then buried the Browns four years later.
Only one problem: That defeat of Cleveland wasn’t Baltimore’s last game that season. Super Bowl III was, and the New York Jets pulled off the biggest upset in the game’s history.
So what? So it may have crippled Bobby Boyd’s Hall-of-Fame candidacy.
That Colts’ defense was terrific, and so was the team. Led by MVP Earl Morrall, it won all but one of its games and was acclaimed as “the greatest football team in history.” One reason: Morrall. Another: Defense. It allowed 10 or fewer points in 10 of its 14 starts, allowed a league-low 10 points per game during the regular season and blanked Cleveland in the conference championship contest.
So tell me how many of its defensive starters are in the Hall? Never mind, I’ll spare you the trouble. Zero. Bobby Boyd’s not in, and linebacker Mike Curtis isn’t, either, and, sorry, but if you ask me they’re paying a price for the Super Bowl’s greatest upset.
Had the Colts won that game, I have no doubt one or both would be in the Hall. As it is, neither has been discussed. And that needs to change.