A Hall of Fame Comparison – Abner Haynes

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There is a feeling among AFL fans that the American Football League players are consistently overlooked for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.  In truth there are many players, the bulk of whose careers were spent in the AFL, that deserve serious consideration, if not outright induction.  In an effort to spark some discussion regarding their hall of fame worthiness, I will occasionally compare AFL players to their NFL (and Hall of Fame) counterparts. The short biographies on the NFL players have been taken directly from the Pro Football Hall of Fame website.


Autographed 1960 Fleer Abner Haynes

#073 – Abner Haynes

Today’s comparison is between Abner Haynes of the Dallas Texans/Kansas City Chiefs, Denver Broncos, Miami Dolphins and New York Jets, and two HoF running backs, Paul Hornung and Gale Sayers.

Abner Haynes – 5th round draft choice of Dallas Texans in 1960…  Earned AFL Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player honors in 1960…  Three-time TSN All-AFL selection, named all-pro four times…  Played in four AFL All-Star Games…  Won AFL championship with Texans in 1962…  Retired with 4,630 career rushing yards and 46 touchdowns…  Averaged 4.5 yards/carry…  His 12,065 combined yards in an AFL record…  AFL All-Time Second Team member…

Paul Vernon Hornung – Heisman Trophy winner, All-America at Notre Dame. . .Bonus draft pick, 1957. . .Multi-talented clutch player, at best inside 20-yard line. . .NFL Player of Year, 1960, 1961. . .Led NFL scorers three years with record 176 points in 1960. . .Career stats: 3,711 yards rushing, 130 receptions, 760 points. . .Tallied record 19 points in 1961 NFL title game. . . Played in two Pro Bowls. . .

Gale Eugene Sayers Kansas All-America. . .Exceptional break-away runner. . .Scored rookie record 22 TDs, 132 points, 1965. . .Led NFL rushers, 1966, 1969. . .Named all-time NFL halfback, 1969. . . All-NFL five straight years. . .Player of Game in three Pro Bowls. . .Career totals: 9,435 combined net yards, 4,956 yards rushing, 336 points. . . NFL lifetime kickoff return leader. . .

Abner Haynes was the AFL’s premier running back during the first half of the 1960s.  Despite the Texans/Chiefs having other talented backs during his time in Curtis McClinton, Mack Lee Hill, Jack Spikes and others, Haynes put together excellent numbers through 1964.  His overall production slowed after he left the Chiefs, and a relatively-short eight-year career would be the only real drawback that I can see to Haynes’ bust residing in Canton.  Thoughts?

Todd Tobias (789 Posts)

Todd Tobias's interest in the American Football League began in 1998, when he wrote my master's thesis about Sid Gillman. He created this site to educate and entertain football fans with the stories of the American Football League, 1960-1969. You can follow Todd and get more AFL history on Twitter @TalesfromtheAFL.

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15 Responses to A Hall of Fame Comparison – Abner Haynes

  1. chris burford says:

    Abner was the face and the “name of the game” in the AFL in the early 60.s A great talent which transferred to the field and an exciting game breaking runner with a will to win, play hard, tough, and a great teammate. He epitomized what a pro football running back could be and his value to the team was inestimable. The very first “GREAT” player in the AFL.

  2. Howard says:

    Two strikes that would go against Abner Haynes:

    1. He played in the early AFL years. There is bias against that time period.
    2. He played primarily for the Chiefs. Unfortunately, there may be a “too many Chiefs” inducted bias.

    Are there any Utube videos or other videos of Abner Haynes? I would love to see clips of him in action.

    • chris burford says:

      I have Abner’s highlights from 1960 mvp season and his 1962,63, 64,65 footage that are encapsulated in our Texans and Chiefs highlight films of those years…great footage, great back!

  3. Peter Stellato says:


    Is there any possible way of uploading Chris Burford’s hi-light reels onto this site? I’m more of an NFL guy than an AFL guy, but I’m always interested in any high-quality football from the 1960s.

  4. billd says:

    In their prime I would take Haynes over Hornung any day-except at the coin toss.

  5. 1967 says:

    For me, the question of ‘why’ the Chiefs traded Abner Haynes comes to mind. As did the defending AFL Champions of 1962, Haynes slumped in 1963 aft starring for 3 years in Dallas. That season was also difficult because according to reports not only were some native Texas players as well others unhappy having to leave Dallas for KC, but Haynes friend, rookie teammate Stone Johnson died aft an on – field injury. Couple these with his being ridiculed by some over his “kick to the clock” gaffe despite his team having won, and one can speculate.

    According to a January 1965 newspaper article re: his being traded (link below), was the result of being too small at 190 lbs., as larger RBs were starting to come into vogue. KC had Curtis McClinton & Mack Lee Hill, both of whom were in the 230 lb. range. KC also needed LB depth, hence the acquisition LB / P Jim Fraser.


    Well, that was the party line, at any.

    While Haynes size issue may have been plausible & KC may have needed a LB for depth purposes, Haynes had a good bounce back year in 1964 with KC and the Chiefs already had a great punter in Jerrel Wilson, who was already doing what the player the Chiefs acquired (Fraser) never could outside Denver’s high altitude: punt for average. Fraser lasted just one year in KC, another in Boston, sat out a year and ended his career with one last season in New Orleans, 1968. Haynes was still capable of the spectacular even the end his career, averaging almost 5 yards an carry in 1967 for a horrible Miami Dolphins team, at age 30. Just two years removed from his greatest season in ’62 he grew ‘too small’ & so was traded? I don’t buy it, didn’t then and still don’t today.

    Haynes didn’t have great speed much as good… more so he was as silky smooth and fluid a runner as I can recall. Of note, in 1966 aft the death of Mack Lee Hill in 1965, KC drafted and signed Mike Garrett – a listed 5’9 195 lb. (more so 5’8-ish 185 lb.-ish) RB… so much for ‘progress’ and the being ‘undersized’ argument.

    Is Abner ‘Butch’ Haynes a Hall of Famer? I know this: you could field a team of players heretofore excluded and see nary a difference the twain… nuff said.

    • billd says:

      Abner being traded so soon after his involvement in the black all star boycott in New Orleans also begs the question is there more to the “party line” reason for the trade?

      • chris burford says:

        I doubt that was the reason for the trade. I’ve never seen any motivation that way from the owners and management of the Texans/Chiefs. I know Lamar and his family loved Abner and I think it had to have come down to a purely business decision. 1963 was truly a rough year for Abner in K.C…… particularly when Stone Johnson suffered the terrible fractured vertebre injury in Wichita ,Ks during an exhibition game which lead to his death later in the week,…Abner and Stone were boyhood friends, both from Lincoln High in Dallas. Stone was an Olympic silver medalist in the 200 meters and a good guy;, they were the best of friends and Abner grieved over the incident…..never really got over it. Never the same player again…some of the spark was gone….and believe me, he had alot of spark!, alot of heart, and was one of the primary reasons the AFL got off the ground. A great, great, player.

        • Tom says:

          After his first three seasons he was on pace with 44 td’s, one more than Jim Brown scored in his first three season’s 43, to become the all time td leader , In his fourth season the number of touches fell off dramaticlly and as to be expected so did the numbers.
          The early td numbers were not his only extraordinary accomplishment , he led the league in both punt return and kickoff yardage in separate years, a feat even the great return stars Leslie ‘Speedy” Duncan, Gayle Sayers, Ollie Matson and Jon Arnett never acheived. The great Abe Woodson and Abner may have been the only two to have led the league in both return categories in that era.

          Wichita KS birthplace of Gayle Sayers and Barry Sanders home to the death of Stone Johnson and the 1970 Wichita State football team.

        • billd says:

          Thanks Chris for your insight. You were there. Abner bounced back in 1964 and had over 1500 all purpose yards(14 game schedule)while sharing the load with McClinton and Hill. His being traded to Denver along with all star Dave Grayson being traded to Oakland after the 64 season sure raised eyebrows and questions.

    • royfris says:

      Re Abner Haynes trade:
      Haynes had been part of the AFL All-Star game
      walkout in early 1965, following blatant acts of
      racial discrimination in New Orleans. (The game was
      relocated to Houston.) Haynes received a formal
      letter from the Kansas City Chiefs discouraging
      player “activism,” and within days he was traded to Denver.

  6. I just watched a You Tube video where Haynes scores on a swing pass from Len Dawson in the 1962 AFL Championship win over Houston. 1967 describes him well: “silky smooth and fluid.”

    Haynes was one of the AFL players I read about in the late ’70’s, and I remember thinking, when I was 10 or 11 years old, that he was a great player. Now I’m hearing one of his teammates call him “the face and ‘the name of the game’ in the AFL in the early ’60’s.” It sounds like Abner’s impact on the AFL was huge, and I’d like to see him go to The Hall of Fame.

  7. Tom says:

    In 1964 Ron Fowlkes was drafted by the Cheifs, and by the hair on his chinny chin he escaped a racially charged Training Camp nightmare. Day or so later Ron was sent to the Chargers and said “One of the most meaningful experiences of his whole life was when he got off that plane that night at Lindburgh Field Lance Alworth was standing there to greet and welcome him to San Diego.

    Ron did not last the camp but found a home in the Continental League with the Orange County Ramblers where he and Ramblers teammate Dick Degan were named All Stars. Ron was educated at Ohio U and taught, coached and administrated in the LAUSD for 45 years. Ron was the first African American head football coach in LAUSD history with distinction, coaching NFL HOF James Lofton’s at Washington Generals Prep high school head football coach. and his son Tremaine Fowlkes Pac 10 Freshman Player of the Year at Cal later winning a 2004 NBA championship ring as a member of the Pistons. SCP.

  8. Just joined this great site a few days ago. Mr. Burford, I remember ya, you were a great player!

    Getting to Abner, I was just a 14 year old kid, my first Bronco game was when we played the New York Titans toward the end of the 1962 season. I agree about Abner being a smooth runner-and a great one!

    Looking at that trade by the time I graduated from high school in 1968, I learned a tad more about that AFL boycott three years earlier. By this time I was ALL IN regarding pro football. I was ecstatic as a kid when we picked up Abner from the Chiefs and only gave up our punter. Our backup punter at that time was Bob Scarpitto who also was our flanker, with Lionel Taylor at split end. As far as Frazier’s linebacker abilities, I don’t remember him starting. I DO remember Jim had the best punting average in the AFL in 1963 and 1964.

    In 1965 Scarpitto took over punting duties, Abner split time with Wendell hayes in the backfield. And Abner also was used on kick returns, had a great average if I recall correctly!

    • Tom says:

      Abner may be the only player in pro football history to have both a four and three touchdown game in the same season. Abners Dallas Texan, KC Chiefs teammate Frank Jackson is the only player in AFL history to catch four td passes in a single game. Chris Burford, Art Powell and Warren Wells may be the only AFL receivers to catch thee Tds in a single game.

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