By Clark Judge
Talk of Fame Network
When Mick Tingelhoff this week was nominated for the Hall of Fame Class of 2015, he made history. He became the first Minnesota Viking to be chosen as a senior in the 43-history of the committee. But of the 24 established franchises (14 NFL, 10 AFL), there still are four — the Jets, Colts, Chargers and Titans/Oilers — that haven’t had a single senior candidate.
That, of course, could change next year when the Hall calls two seniors to Canton again, with the smart money on someone like the Colts’ Mike Curtis or the Oilers’ Robert Brazile. Both were considered strong possibilities before the Hall cut its 2015 senior class from two to one to make room for a separate contributor category, and both are favorites to make it in the near future.
But they’re not the only deserving candidates from each of our four clubs. There’s more than enough to go around, and let the roll call begin:
COLTS — LB Mike Curtis, S Bobby Boyd, HB Alan Ameche. Curtis may be known as much — if not more — for his brutal tackle of a drunken fan who ran on to the Memorial Stadium field during a 1971 Colts-Dolphins game … and that’s unfortunate. Because he made many, many more tackles in his career as a linebacker who could play inside or out, who played with an intensity befitting his nickname, “Mad Dog,” and who was named MVP and captain on a team that included John Unitas. He was also a two-time All-Pro, a four-time Pro Bowler and, like Hill, a Super Bowl champion — making the interception of a Craig Morton pass that led the Colts to a 16-13 defeat of Dallas in Super Bowl V.
JETS — T Winston Hill, DL Joe Klecko. For all the attention given Klecko, a Pro Bowl choice at three different positions, Hill probably gets tapped first. As the tackle who had Joe Namath’s back, he was a four-time AFL all-star and four-time NFL Pro Bowler. Moreover, he not only went to a Super Bowl but he was on the winning team — and, trust me, that counts for plenty, especially when it’s the versatile and popular Klecko who’s pushing him. Remember, it was Hall-of-Fame tackle Anthony Munoz who put Klecko in the company of pass rushers Fred Dean, Bruce Smith and Lee Roy Selmon — and they’re all Hall of Famers.
CHARGERS — G Walt Sweeney, QB John Hadl. Sweeney’s the favorite here for one very important reason — he was one of the best guards of his era, and the envelope, please: A guard who could play any offensive-line position, he was named to nine straight AFL all-star games and NFL Pro Bowls and so accomplished that Hall-of-Famer Merlin Olsen once said he “would rather sell used cars” than play vs. Sweeney. Hadl is a long-shot possibility, mostly because of his position. He’s in line behind guys like Ken Stabler, Ken Anderson and John Brodie — which means it could be a long wait.
TITANS/OILERS – LB Robert Brazile, LB George Webster, WR Charley Hennigan. Anyone nicknamed “Dr. Doom” is going to get attention, and Robert Brazile should. A seven-time Pro Bowler and five-time All-Pro, Brazile was the perfect combination of size and speed for Bum Phillips’ 3-4 defense in Houston — with some saying he was as good a pass rusher out of the 3-4 as Hall of Fame linebacker Lawrence Taylor. But he was more than that — he could cover receivers, he could play the run and he seldom screwed up. In fact, he was named to the 1970s all-decade team and is the only linebacker from that club not in the Hall of Fame.