Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Which Offensive Tackles are Hall of Fame Worthy?

By John Turney

Recently, the Talk of Fame Network has been interviewing and writing posts on Hall of Fame candidates who are worthy in many ways but have yet to be in the discussion by making the Final 15 list or even the Final 25 semi-finalist list.

We decided to put up some numbers of the Hall of Fame tackles and compare them to those who are waiting for their chance to perhaps be inducted.

On this list we show the tackles who have been inducted and the games they played, started and their honors. We've excluded Lou Groza in that he was exclusively a kicker for the 1960s, but we could add him in if folks were to object, we don't think it makes much of a difference for the purposes of this exercise. We also include inducted and the games they played, started and their honors. We've excluded Lou Groza in that he was exclusively a kicker for the 1960s, but we could add him in if folks were to object, we don't think it makes much of a difference for the purposes of this exercise. We also include Jim Parker among the Hall of Fame guards though he split time between guard and tackle, but when he was included on many all-time teams it was almost always at guard.

Ron Mix sits atop the list but there should be an explanation. It wasn't until 1967 or so that combined All-AFL-NFL teams were selected, so many of Mix's selections are All-AFLs. In most of his seasons he wasn't competing with Rosey Brown or Forrest Gregg for an All-Pro slot. But, it is also very likely his numbers would have been excellent regardless of how All-Pro, All-AFL, and All-NFL teams were selected. The 1960s are an era where historians need to be accurate in selections to be neither biased against the AFL or for it. In this case we just listed his selections but we are not suggesting he's the best offensive tackle of All-time by being atop this list, just that he was honored many times. Maybe he was the best, but numbers alone wouldn't make that determination in our view.

Click to enlarge:
Note: Jim Parker split his career between tackle and guard, we put him with guards. He was a guard on the NFL 75th Anniversary team, so we let him there, though he could also be on this list as it is a close call.
The final category is one we think should be included in any analysis for linemen and it's the Offensive Lineman of the Year Awards. From the mid-1960s through the mid-2000s there were several groups, including the NFLPA and the NFL Alumni and a couple of others selected, through a vote of players, former players or writers who the best offensive linemen in the league or conference was, regardless of position. Anthony Munoz won one of those awards in six different seasons and we think these awards, along with the consensus All-Pro selections and other factors shed light on players and who may be a cut above, in a group of great players.

Tony Boselli had career-ending injuries and as a result, ranks very low in the longevity part of this table. However, he was a consensus All-Pro three times and was an NFL/AFC Lineman of the Year those same three seasons.

Mike Kenn ranks highest in the longevity portion and in the All-pro portion. His Pro Bowltotal is five, but in one of those oddities that sometimes occur, in 1991 he was a consensus All-Pro but was only a first alternate to the Pro Bowl, so his Pro Bowl number would be higher if not for that.

George Kunz, Lomas Brown and Chris Hinton ranked high in Pro Bowls but were not All-Decade and only Kunz was ever a Conference Offensive Lineman of the Year.

We do not envy the position the Hall of Fame voters are in, they have piles of excellent players and when they are compared to those in the Hall they see that sometimes the separation between those in and some of those out is very small.

This chart it shows that the average HOF tackle played 13 years and started 86% of the games they could have in their career. The averaged four consensus All-Pros and six First-team All-Pro selections to go with an average of 8 Pro Bowls. Those not in do have lower numbers, albeit it's a matter of opinion how great the separations.

We fully understand there is more to selecting Hall of Famer than numbers, there are intangibles, the "what they said" type of things where opposing defensive ends may have a comment about who was the toughest they faces, there is team success, the "rings" and other things, but this, we feel gives some perspective for the votes and fans.

We welcome your comments.


  1. The reason for Jim Tyrer's exclusion from the PFHOF is obvious, but he deserves at least to be mentioned in a discussion like this. His on-field accomplishments are Hall-worthy, and given what we are learning about CTE and other mental health issues that are possibly football related, perhaps it's time for the voters to reconsider Tyrer's case for induction.

    1. I ommitted Jim Tyrer for a few reasons, one was he is in the senior category, another was he was a finalist before and has at least been on the final 15. He, at least, has discussed, and another reason is that it is difficult to compare his stats (like the caveot mentioned for Mix) with those on the bottom of that list, those who are not in. Also, I took the names of those tackles who have been on the premliminary list since 1999 and Tyrer wasn't on it.

      Thus, we are aware, very much of Tyrer's case, but for the several reasons we mentioned we left him (and Jim Parker and Lou Groza) off the list.

      IF you wish for Tyrer's case to be mentioned, it would need to be taken up by the senior committee of the PFBHOF, and would be up to them to try and assess his worthiness, maybe someday, if it could be proven he actually had CTE issues they might consider him.