State Your Case: Bobby Boyd

Bobby Boyd photo courtesy of the Indianapolis Colts

(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.






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  1. Ken
    January 23, 2016

    I could not agree more. Both Boyd and Curtis should get Hall of Fame consideration. Boyd intercepted more passes by the end of the 1968 season, his last, than anyone except Emlen Tunnell and Night Train Lane, both Hall of Famers. Curtis surely would have made the Hall by now if he had remained an outside linebacker. He was moved into the MLB position in 1969 in a shakeup of the struggling Colt defense that year by Don Shula, replacing Dennis Gaubatz, but played the position in the era of Butkus, an aging Ray Nitschke who had already made his mark, Willie Lanier, Bill Bergey, Tommy Nobis and other standouts. I have never understood why either of them have not gotten the consideration they deserve.

  2. bachslunch
    March 17, 2016

    Agreed that Bobby Boyd has a solid HoF case. Decent postseason honors of 4/2/60s, grades out pretty well at Ken Crippen’s film study site. Other Senior CBs in the mix here include Lemar Parrish, Dave Grayson, and Abe Woodson.

  3. Robert Ewing
    August 31, 2017

    how would you rank them bachs boyd parrish grayson woodson

    • bachslunch
      September 3, 2017

      Probably Parrish, Grayson, Boyd, Woodson. But it’s close, particularly between Grayson and Boyd. All should be in, I think.

  4. Wanda Boyd
    September 5, 2017

    Sorry if this comment is a repeat – not very good with today’s technology. However, wanted to thank you for your extremely good article and for attending his funeral. Bobby never grew “to famous” for his local friends & family. He was always humble & kind to everyone he met. On Oct 6th, we would have married for 61 years & were HS sweethearts before that. His stats were earned with less games & seasons so that sorta speaks for his abilities in comparison to some of the other inductees . Bobby never complained about being overlooked.

  5. Sean Mitchell
    February 17, 2018

    There is so much mythology surrounding Super Bowl III that I think it clouds the truth of what really happened. First, the Jets were an excellent team with an explosive offense. Once you understand that, then you realize that the Colts defense did not fail in Super Bowl III. In fact, the Colts defense kept the team in the game while the Colts offense bumbled and stumbled thru 60 minutes of atrocious football. The Jets offense put just 13 points on the board (the other 3 points were due to a Matte fumble). Namath passed for only 206 yards. The guy the Colts couldn’t stop was Snell, but that wasn’t Boyd’s fault. It was the Colts’ offense that failed them – 5 turnovers, most occurring in the red zone. Ironically, two years later, the Colts offense would play a remarkably similar game in Super Bowl V. But, this time, the Colts defense was able to win the game for them with two 4th quarter takeaways.

    The Colts defense of that era was a great defense. Bobby Boyd and Mike Curtis should be in the HOF, and certainly should not be penalized because of a mythical “failure” that never actually happened.

    • February 17, 2018

      Jimmy Orr is still wide open in the end zone, waving his hands. Colts were the better team … but not on that day.

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