If Terrell Owens can demand to know why he’s not in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, how come we haven’t heard from Harold Jackson?
All he did was lead all NFL receivers in catches, yards receiving and touchdowns receiving for an entire decade — the 1970s. He was a five-time Pro Bowler who averaged — averaged — over 20 yards a catch in each of four seasons and, when he retired, had more yards receiving (10,372) than every receiver in NFL history except Don Maynard.
Yet Harold Jackson not only isn’t in the Pro Football Hall of Famel he wasn’t even an all-decade choice for the 1970s, and someone want to explain that one to me?
No, he never had a 100-catch season. In fact, he never was close. Nobody then was. But he did produce 29 100-yard games and three 1,000-yard seasons — and this at a time when 62 receptions, which is what he put up in 1972, could lead the NFL … which, in fact, they did. He also scored four times in a game.
Jackson led the league once in catches, once in TD receptions and twice in yards receiving, and what makes his accomplishments remarkable is that they were achieved with 14 quarterbacks — often with sub-par clubs.
The snag here is that he wasn’t named to an all-decade team, and, yep, that is a problem. The overwhelming majority of Hall-of-Fame inductees were, though the board hiccupped when it came to wide receivers from the 1970s.
Drew Pearson, for instance, is a first-team all-decade choice from that era. Harold Carmichael is a second-team selection. Neither is in the Hall, the only all-decade wideouts from the ’70s, ’80s and’90s missing from Canton. Worse, Pearson is the only member of the 1970s’ first-team offense not enshrined, and not only hasn’t he been discussed; he’s never qualified as a Hall-of-Fame semifinalist.
Don’t get me started.
So that makes it difficult … if not damned-near impossible … for Harold Jackson to be considered. Yet consider this: Harold Jackson averaged more yards per catch (17.9) for his career than any of the all-decade choices from the 1970s and was named to three more Pro Bowls (5) than Swann, two more than Pearson and one more than Jackson.
No, he did not play on a Super Bowl competitor like the other three, but he was the star receiver for a Los Angeles Rams club that three times (1974-76) reached the NFC championship game, losing all three times.
The Black College Hall of Fame thought enough of the guy to admit him this year, along with five others. But the Pro Football Hall? It seems the only way Jackson gets in is with the price of admission. Yet the website profootballreference.com identifies Cris Carter, Charley Taylor, James Lofton, Fred Biletnikoff and Charlie Joiner as receivers comparable to Jackson.
One difference: They’re in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and Harold Jackson is not.
That doesn’t make Harold Jackson unique. There’s a backlog of deserving wide receivers not in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and I’m not talking about guys like Isaac Bruce, Torry Holt or Owens. I’m talking about senior candidates like Harold Jackson … and Drew Pearson … and Billy Howton … and Charley Hennigan … and Mac Speedie — Hall–of-Fame worthy candidates who seem to have been forgotten.
And that’s more than a problem. It’s a mistake that demands to be corrected.