A Hall of Fame Comparison – GINO CAPPELLETTI

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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.

Today’s comparison is between Gino Cappelletti of the Boston Patriots, and two HoF wide receivers, Raymond Berry and Tommy McDonald.

autographed 1964 topps gino cappelletti

#005 – Gino Cappelletti

Gino Raymond Cappelletti – Kicker & Receiver for the Patriots, played all 10 seasons of the AFL…  Caught 292 passes for 4,589 yards and 42 touchdowns, kicked 176/333 (52.9%) on field goals and 342/353 (96.9%) on extra points…  Five-time AFL all-star and 1964 AFL Most Valuable Player, Four-time second-team All-Pro…  Led the AFL in scoring five times…  AFL’s career scoring leader.

Raymond Emmett BerryFormed exceptional pass-catch team with Johnny Unitas. . .Caught then-record 631 passes for 9,275 yards, 68 touchdowns. . .All-NFL in 1958, 1959, 1960. . .Elected to six Pro Bowl games. . .Set NFL title game mark with 12 catches for 178 yards in 1958 overtime game. . .Colts’ 20th-round future choice in 1954.

Thomas Franklin “Tommy” McDonaldEagles’ third-round draft pick, 1957. . . Career statistics: 495 receptions, 8,410 yards, 84 touchdowns. . . Selected to six Pro Bowls. . .Scored 56 touchdowns in 63 games, 1958-1962. . .Career ratio of touchdowns to receptions 1 to 5.9. . .Led NFL in reception yardage and touchdowns, 1961. . .Ranked sixth all-time in receptions, fourth in yards receiving and second in touchdown catches at time of retirement.

Individually, Gino Cappelletti was an excellent receiver and an excellent kicker.  Perhaps not either position alone is enough to get him into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.  However, viewed together, as a single body of work, Cappelletti’s success in professional football should be enough to warrant strong HoF consideration.  Cappelletti was the model of consistency and durability, having missed only one game in his career, and that is his final season.  Cappelletti was perhaps not as flashy as an Alworth, Powell or Maynard, and played in a small market, but that should not be held against him when his success is so apparent.

Todd Tobias (781 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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17 Responses to A Hall of Fame Comparison – GINO CAPPELLETTI

  1. chris burford says:

    I think your assessment is a sound one. Combining Gino’s receiving skills with his kicking output presents an extremely valuable and versatitle player who performed at a high level over an extended period of time. On top of that, Gino “stayed in the game” as a member of the Patriots broadcast team for many years. He is truly deserving of lasting recognition for his contributions to the success of the AFL. A very deserving candidate.

  2. Howard says:

    I would put Gino in on the basis of his radio work alone! He and Gil Santos worked together for decades. Nothing meant autumn more than listening to them on a crisp Sunday afternoon. Gino was able to educate you as to what was going on without imposing himself into the radio cast. A true gentleman!
    He was a decent receiver and a good kicker. Not really a HOF player, in my opinion.

  3. My thought as I read the article was that Cappelletti’s role on the Patriots was similar to Hornung’s role on the Packers–with an obvious difference being that one played wide receiver and the other played running back. I really know very little about Cappelletti, or about the AFL Patriots, for that matter.

    In the late ’70’s, as a kid, I wondered if Gino was related to John Cappelletti, running back of the Los Angeles Rams. John later played for the San Diego Chargers. Like I said, I know very little about Gino and the team he played for.

  4. Narrow-minded PFHOF selectors have this thing about the ‘purity’ of a man’s playing position: was he the epitome of a “wide receiver”?, or a “middle linebacker”?, etc. They are myopic and unable to think outside the box when considering a player who had multiple skills. I’ve heard it argued by them that Johnny Robinson doesn’t deserve induction because his early stats were at running back, not at defensive back. This is all nonsense.

    There’s such a thing as star quality. Gino had it in spades, so did Robinson, and no one who ever ACTUALLY SAW EITHER OF THEM PLAY could deny it. As we get further from the ‘sixties and the PFHOF selectors grow closer in age and experience to Matt Haddad (above), it becomes less and less likely that many more great AFL players will ever be inducted. http://bit.ly/Cappelletti

    • billd says:

      That’s why its important for Matt to carry the torch. Kudos to him for showing an interest in the history of the AFL.

    • Howard says:

      Paul Warfield briefly started out as a running back. That was not a problem as far as his HOF induction.

      • Tom says:

        You may be confusing Warfield with Bobby Mitchell or Charlie Taylor, they stated their careers in the backfield and switched to receiver and ended up in the PFHOF.

        • Howard says:

          You are correct. Paul Warfield and Charlie Taylor came into the NFL in 1964. I thought one was a back initially. As I research, I see Warfield did not have a carry until 1967. He had 52 receptions and no rushes in 1964.
          Charlie Taylor had 199 rushes in 1964, along with 53 receptions. Both Warfield and Taylor are in the HOF.

          Bobby Mitchell signed with Cleveland in 1958 and had good production as a runner, receiver and kick returner. He averaged about 30 receptions a year and ran for about 500 yards per year as a Brown.

          He blossomed once sent to Washington in 1962. The first black player signed by the Redskins (under pressure from JFK to do so). He had six outstanding years including 1963 when he had AFL type receptions and yardage (69 and 1,436).

          • Tom says:

            Bobby Mitchell was an earth shaking great player, and with a handful of players, Ollie Matson, Jimmy Brown, Hugh McElhenny, Gayle Sayers, Keith Lincoln, Jon Arnett and OJ with Bobby are the finest big play home run hitters to ever play.

  5. TK says:

    When voting for the PFHOF the fundamental question should be asked of a player: Did he dominate his time ?……..With Gino Cappelletti the answer is a resounding YES…When he retired he was the 3rd leading scorer of all-time as well as being a productive receiver….

    His ommission and others from the great AFL should be enough cause for the voting system and induction process of the PFHOF to be overhauled……

  6. Tom says:

    Gino with QB teammate Babe Parilli were marquee players, two of the most popular early AFL players and football in general. In many ways they characterized the AFL as both were cast aside by the NFL and then became bigger than life stars in the new league.
    The AFL with players like Kemp, Blanda, Cannon, Haynes, Lowe, Alworth, Lincoln, Gilchrist, Burford, Dawson, Hennigan, Tolar, and Lionel Taylor gave the league nation wide recognition and earned the respect and captivated a generation of Baby Boomers that were just then becoming aware of the world of sport, to which we all should be grateful and thankful for memories and the times.

  7. Rich says:

    Over 50 years later and Lance Alworth is still my all time favorite athlete. I would love to see him in this era, with these training methods and “Rules”

  8. Kevin Carroll says:

    Journalists and many sports historians have inexplicably glossed over Gino Cappelletti’s significant contributions to the AFL. His scoring record speaks for itself. Not only was he an exceptional place-kicker and accomplished pass receiver; he, like Johnny Robinson, played on both sides of the ball. Cappelletti broke in with Boston as a defensive back in 1960 before switching to receiver full-time. According to corner back Tony Banfield (Houston Oilers, 1960-65) Cappelletti was also one of the league’s best blocking split ends at a time when
    most AFL wide receivers were good blockers. To miss only one game due to injury in a 10-year pro career is a major feat in itself.
    Cappelletti was and is indeed a true gentleman. He stopped to give an autograph and some kind words to this 14-year-old boy outside the player’s entrance to Shea Stadium in 1964. Unfortunately, it was a rough night for the Patriots who lost to the Jets 35 to 14 – one of only three losses that season. He’s a Hall of Famer in my book!

    • Tom says:

      Ginos’ pro career spanned 15 years starting in 1955 in Canada with Cookie Gilchrist’s old team the Sarnia Bears. To play at the level and consistency missing only a single game professionally from age 21 to 35 is a testament to only one thing…greatness. I’m unsure of what metrics the PFHOF uses to determine a players worthiness for induction, but if greatness is one of them they have sorely missed the boat on two all time greats Gino and Cookie.

  9. Howard Kosrofian says:


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