A Hall of Fame Comparison – GEORGE SAIMES

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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 1965 topps #039 - George Saimes

George Thomas Saimes…6th round selection by the Kansas City Chiefs in 1963 NFL Draft, joined the Bills in 1963…  Five-time AFL All-Star, three-time First Team All-AFL…  AFL champion in 1964 & 1965…  Had 22 career interceptions…  One of the most sure-handed tacklers in the AFL…  Member of the Buffalo Bills Wall of Fame… AFL All-Time First Team member.

Larry Frank Wilson. . .Two-way star at Utah, No. 7 draft pick, 1960. . . Cat-like defender, exceptional team leader. . . Became NFL’s top free safety, made “safety blitz” famous. . . All-NFL six times. . . Played in eight Pro Bowl games. . .Had steals in seven straight games, led NFL interceptors, 1966. . .Once intercepted pass with both hands in casts. . . Had 52 career interceptions.

William Vernell “Willie” Wood. . .Signed as free agent, 1960. . .Soon developed into premier free safety. . .Played in six NFL championships, Super Bowls I, II, eight Pro Bowls. . .All-NFL six times. . .50-yard interception return key play in Super Bowl I. . . Career record: 48 interceptions, 699 yards, 2 TDs; 187 punt returns, 1,391 yards, 2 TDs. . .Led NFL in punt returns (1961), interceptions (1962).

Not as well-known as some other players, George Saimes was a safety in the mold of Johnny Robinson.  A fantastic open-field tackler, and hard hitter, Saimes was key member of the great Bills defenses during their championship seasons of 1964 & 1965.  Thoughts?

On a side note, Saimes was originally drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs.  Can you imagine him as a part of the legendary Kansas City defenses?  George Saimes and Johnny Robinson as your two safeties?  Holy smokes!

Todd Tobias (790 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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14 Responses to A Hall of Fame Comparison – GEORGE SAIMES

  1. jeffrey miller says:

    Very nice. He was a good one!

  2. Howard says:

    Never heard much about Saimes. Those 1964-1966 Bills teams were excellent. They sort of faded by the 1967-1969 period. He is unfortunately a guy who played in an era when the AFL was still establishing itself. Highly unlikely he will get into HOF.

  3. Kevin Carroll says:

    Saimes wasn’t flashy, but he was hard-nosed, durable and extremely dependable. He may not be as well known as Johnny Robinson because the Bills did not play in any of the first four super bowls. He and Robinson both deserve to be in it.

    • Tom says:

      I do not know how Saimes was acquired by the Bills from the Chiefs or why he snubbed the Rams who in 1963 just like the Chiefs drafted him in the sixth round, but know he walked into a ready made situation, in Buffalo. In 1963 The Rams had one of the best safeties in the game, Eddie Meador, the Bills a year prior had 34 year old Carl Tassef and one of Saimes former MSU Spartan teammates rookie Carl Charon at Safety. Saimes was seventh in the Heisman voting and for the time was widely recognized, nationally publicized and minus a NEA vote a unanimous All American. For over half a decade and for three consecutive season 1964-66 the Bills had the number 1 defense in the AFL and featured one of the best defenses in all of football from 1963-68. Unlike KC with five or so defensive players from around the same era enshrined in Canton, the Bills can’t name a single one. It’s time Canton calls George back to his birth place and gives him and other great Bills defensive players from the 1960’s a permanent place to call home.

  4. Garry Woodcock says:

    Overlooked by the Hall Of Fame???? COOKIE GILCHRIST ’nuff said….but it’s never too late to “right a wrong”…let’s get it done.

  5. 1967 says:

    Yes, Saimes and Robinson would’ve made quite a pair. In those days the Chiefs generally employed a dual free safety system rather than one free & one strong.

    Too, the ‘other’ safety who in fact ‘was’ Robinson’s partner on defense wasn’t too shabby either: Bobby Hunt had 42 career interceptions and was also an All Pro / Pro Bowler / All Star (too many categories – he was just ‘good’, in the parlance.)

    An aside: while the 32-year old Robinson had a ‘league leading’ 10 ints in 1970 as an NFL safety the combined leagues same (take note Hall of Fame voters and AFL detractors), the ‘great’ Wilson had only 5 ints (for the record, Saimes 0 and Hunt had already retired.)

    Upshot: Robinson was the best, with no apologies to Wilson. As well, Saimes was right there with the two aforementioned players – George must have been pretty good to make AFL All-Time First Team Member; that he did so with 22 ints in 10 seasons compared the 57 of Robinson in 10* (as a safety) & the 52 of Wilson in 13 seasons speaks volumes that mere ‘flash’ the form ‘stats’ does not alone tell the ‘Tales from the American Football League’ or any other, NFL etc.

  6. Joe Brennan says:

    Saimes never took off his helmet during a game or on the field. He didn’t want anyone to see his hair messed up by his helmet. Honest story. Great safety and a the best tackler I ever had the pleasure to see play in person.

  7. Mark Murphy says:

    Good argument for him. Bills had great teams in 64-66, almost went to first Super Bowl but lost to Chiefs. Sestak, Stratton, Saimes, great players. I’m always excited when an old AFL player is put in the Hall of Fame, Would be great if it happened with Saimes it probably won’t though. Thanks for teh story though.

  8. Tim Tryjankowski says:

    I’ve been re-discovering the 64-65 Buffalo Bills. The Defense was stout..some argue the best ever. With that said it sounds as if Sestak led the front four, Stratton the linebackers and Saimes the secondary..sprinkle in McDole, Dunaway, Jacobs, Byrd and that sounds on par with the Stell Curtain. Saimes out of MSU was always in position and a sure tackler..Seems like several of those AFL Bills need mention at HoF time..and Yes COOKIE was the man on the other side of the ball for the Bills

  9. jeff says:

    Seems to me I remember hearing that George was the AFL originator of the safety blitz. Not sure who did it first, him or that other guy from that other(inferior) league

  10. TK says:

    Saimes, like Robinson was also a converted college RB…..

  11. Just yesterday I received the latest issue of The Coffin Corner (January/February 2012), the official magazine of The Professional Football Researchers Association. There’s a very good article titled: “George Saimes, Star Safety.” The author is Greg Tranter. It sounds like this guy named Saimes deserves The Pro Football Hall of Fame–especially in light of the Bills defense allowing the explosive Chargers a TOTAL of 7 points in TWO championship games.

    As far as Bills players go, I think the first order of business is to get Cookie Gilchrist enshrined. Saimes should be on the list to get elected, though. And to think, I’d never even heard of him until February 22, 2013 ! ! !

  12. […] George Saimes was recently the subject of a Tales from the American Football League Hall of Fame Comparison, which can be found HERE. […]

  13. Marvin Cobb says:

    George Saimes was probably smaller than his listed 5’11”, 186 lb stat. So I’m guessing that to get a title like “best open field tackler,” George had more heart than a little bit. Like most of us, he rarely got to tackle someone smaller than himself, so I take my hat off and offer condolences to his family today.

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