Who are the best AFL players not in Canton? The countdown is about to begin

Photo courtesy of Las Vegas Raiders

Clark Judge

The AFL Call for the Hall is about to begin.

A week ago we told you that too many AFL players have been ignored and/or forgotten by the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but big deal. You knew that. What you didn’t know was that we’re determined to do something about it by promoting the AFL’s top players for Hall-of-Fame consideration.

And we’re doing it now.

We figure if Canton can celebrate the NFL's 100th anniversary with 10 seniors in a Centennial Class we can follow with 10 AFL seniors that could have been ... no, should have been ... considered for that class.

But weren't.

Now, before we get started, let’s make something clear: This is not endorsed by the Hall … is not promoted by the Hall … and, in fact, has little to do with the Hall, other than we have five Hall-of-Fame voters on our board (including our Rick Gosselin and Ron Borges) who are part of its senior committee. This is simply an exercise to recognize Hall-of-Fame worthy AFL stars whom Canton has not.

OK, so the Jets’ Winston Hill just landed in the Hall as part of the Centennial Class of 2020. But he’s the only AFL inductee. In fact, he was the only AFL candidate among the Centennial’s 20 finalists.

Repeat: The only one. 

No question, he deserved to be inducted. But he deserved to be inducted decades ago. So did a raft of others from the AFL.

Consider this a chance to name them.

In addition to the five Hall-of-Fame voters, we have five historians, too – including AFL expert Todd Tobias of TalesfromtheAFL.com and frequent Talk of Fame Network collaborator John Turney of Pro Football Journal. The balance is not dissimilar to a panel I convened late last year as our own Centennial Class, with six of the selectors returning for this vote. That went off seamlessly, and the hope is that this will, too.

So let’s get started.

Today we present our preliminary list of 46 candidates proposed by voters and readers. From this group, 20 finalists will be chosen on June 10, with our 10 winners named the following week – with June 18 the most likely date.

Important: This list is not fixed. It can be amended ... and it can be amended by you ... but only if you propose a deserving candidate who is missing. If not, the polls open to our voters next Wednesday on the list before them.

Any questions? Good. Introducing the preliminary list of candidates for the AFL Call for the Hall:


QBJohn Hadl (San Diego, 1962-72; L.A. Rams, 1973-74; Green Bay, 1974-75; Houston 1976-77), Jack Kemp (L.A./SanDiego, 1960-62; Buffalo 1962-69), Daryle Lamonica (Buffalo 1963-66; Oakland 1967-74).

RBClem Daniels (Dallas, 1960; Oakland, 1961-67; San Francisco, 1968), Cookie Gilchrist (Buffalo, 1962-64; Denver, 1965, 1967; Miami, 1966), Abner Haynes (Dallas/Kansas City, 1960-64; Denver, 1965-66; Miami, 1967; N.Y. Jets, 1967), Keith Lincoln (San Diego, 1961-66, 1968; Buffalo, 1967-68) Paul Lowe (L.A./San Diego, 1960-68), Kansas City, 1968-69); Jim Nance ( Boston/New England, 1965-71; N.Y. Jets, 1973).

WRChris Burford (Dallas/Kansas City, 1960-67), Gino Cappelletti (Boston, 1960-70), Elbert Dubenion (Cleveland, 1959, Buffalo, 1960-68), Charlie Hennigan (Houston, 1960-66), Art Powell (Philadelphia, 1959; New York Titans, 1960-62; Oakland, 1963-66; Buffalo, 1967; Minnesota, 1968), Lionel Taylor (Chicago, 1959; Denver, 1960-66; Houston, 1967-68), , Otis Taylor (Kansas City, 1965-75), Warren Wells (Detroit, 1964, Oakland, 1967-70), .

TEFred Arbanas (Dallas/Kansas City, 1962-70), Dave Kocourek (L.A./San Diego, 1960-65; Miami, 1966; Oakland, 1967-68).

OTJim Tyrer (Dallas/Kansas City, 1961-73; Washington, 1974), Ernie Wright (L.A./San Diego Chargers, 1960-67; Cincinnati, 1968-71; San Diego, 1972).

OGEd Budde (Kansas City, 1963-76), Wayne Hawkins (Oakland, 1960-69), Walt Sweeney (San Diego, 1963-73; Washington 1974-75), Bob Talamini (Houston, 1960-67; N.Y. Jets, 1968).

CJon Morris (Boston/New England, 1964-74; Detroit, 1975-77; Chicago, 1978).


DTHouston Antwine (Boston/New England, 1961-71; Philadelphia, 1972), Tom Keating (Buffalo, 1964-65, Oakland, 1966-67, 1969, 1970-72; Pittsburgh, 1973; Kansas City, 1974-75), Ernie Ladd (San Diego, 1961-65, Houston, 1966, Kansas City, 1967-68), Tom Sestak (Buffalo, 1962-68).

DEEarl Faison (San Diego, 1961-66; Miami, 1966), Rich Jackson (Oakland, 1966; Denver, 1967-72; Cleveland 1972), Ike Lassiter (Denver, 1962-64; Oakland, 1965-69; Boston/New England, 1970-71), Jerry Mays (Dallas/Kansas City, 1961-70), Gerry Philbin (N.Y. Jets, 1964-72, Philadelphia 1973).

LBDan Conners (Oakland, 1964-74), Larry Grantham (N.Y. Titans/Jets. 1960-72), E.J.Holub (Dallas/Kansas City, 1961-70), Mike Stratton (Buffalo, 1962-72; San Diego, 1973), George Webster (Houston, 1967-72, Pittsburgh, 1972-73; New England, 1974-76).

CBButch Byrd (Buffalo, 1964-70, Denver, 1971), Dave Grayson (Dallas Cowboys, 1961; Dallas/Kansas City, 1961-64, Oakland, 1965-70).

SGoose Gonsoulin (Denver, 1960-66; San Francisco, 1967), George Saimes (Buffalo, 1963-69; Denver 1970-72).


P Jerrel Wilson (Kansas City, 1963-77; New England, 1978).

PKJim Turner (N.Y. Jets, 1964-70; Denver, 1971-79).

Comments (8)
No. 1-2
brian wolf
brian wolf

Great list guys ...

Billy Cannon as a RB/TE had a better AFL career than Warren Wells, who though a superstar counting his NFL 1970 season, was only great for two AFL seasons in 68 and 69. It's surprising that there werent more effective TEs in the AFL, though Lammons for the Jets was a good blocker/receiver as well.

If George Webster was great for his three AFL seasons, so was MLB Al Atkinson for the Jets, who was a team leader and excellent in pass coverage, while playing with a separated shoulder in the SB III victory.

DE Verlon Biggs of the Jets never played up to his potential in the AFL but had some very effective seasons while helping LB Grantham be effective as well. Better as an overall player than pass rusher. Another DE who was better overrall, than for pass rushing was Ron McDole of Buffalo.

Yes, I have mentioned many underrated Jets including center John Schmidt and even Sherman Plunkett, who could pass block despite his size ... with bad knee QBs in Namath and Dick Wood, the Jets had to pass protect.

Sherrill Headrick and Archie Matsos were great linebackers in the early AFL years ... Headricks bad SB against the Packers, hurt his legacy somewhat ...

Keith Lincoln and Matt Snell were neck and neck as far as fullbacks with both players having great championship games in the 63 AFL Championship for Lincoln, and SB III for Snell. Lincoln was the better receiver with a better running average than Snell but Snell had more running yards, was a better blocker and was AFL Rookie Of the Year, who would have been even more productive had he not had a devastating knee injury in 67, that hurt the Jets chances of a championship.

Kenny Graham was also an excellent safety for the Chargers, though their defences would falter late in the year due to injuries and having an offence that either scored quickly or turned the ball over ... WR Gary Garrison was effective as well, having excellent seasons also in the NFL.


Glad -- yet not surprised -- to see Jim Tyrer on the list. In the next couple of weeks our documentary on Tyrer's life and death (trust me that the complete story has never been told) will be largely complete. A ton of research, many hours of archive and interviews and insights from others on the list like Arbanas and Budde are included. It is important to get a legacy right. Thank you for doing this. Www.goodmanmovie.com

NFL Stories