Winston Hill for the Hall of Fame

autographed 1965 topps winston hill

The AFL had many fantastic offensive linemen, most of whom have been overlooked for hall of fame induction.  Walt Sweeney, Ed Budde, Jim Tyrer, Bob Talamini, and more.  Winston Hill is in that category as well.  He pass blocked for Joe Namath, and opened holes for Emerson Boozer and Matt Snell.  Hill was an eight-time AFL All-Star/NFL Pro Bowler, and incredibly, missed just one game over his 15-year career.

The Jets Blog discussed Hill’s situation in THIS ARTICLE back in 2009.

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.


10 Responses to Winston Hill for the Hall of Fame

  1. 1967 says:

    “What’s so special about the Colts?” On that Super day January 12th 1969, not a thing, Winston.

    Too, what is so special about a Hall of Fame that leaves Hill & Jim Tyrer among others, absent?

    Ditto.

    Hill (like Tyrer) has accolades to include a Ring & not just All Star/Pro Bowl kudos, while similarly deserving peers Jim Otto, Ron Mix and Billy Shaw are in the Hall of Fame despite nary an undisputed World Championship among them. The Aflac Duck would break his incredulous neck making “ah-hah!?! sounds response, like human beings playing the same game are relegated different planets, eyes the voters.

    According most reviews, Tyrer was peerless at left offensive tackle and as such was impediment to former Charger Ernie Wright same as Hill to former Oiler Walt Suggs. Indirectly, Tyrer’s superlative play contributed to Hill’s omission HOF – which might make sense except that Tyrer too remains unenshrined. The upshot: ancillary things seem to matter in the eyes HOF voters (media hype & preference for one league in lieu another, braggadocio too which exceeded career stats the field one of Winston’s teammates, latter guy’s 60 minutes of Warhol apparently sufficient HOF enshrinement. Joe may have saved one league while shooting down another, but was saved just the same twice a year from a blind side fate named Elvin Bethea (Oilers HOF DE), as well the likes Ben Davidson among others.

    If timing is everything, that Hill & Tyrer played the same position at the same time would be considered bad. Worse that Tyrer had already been retired for the mandatory five years when his tragic demise occurred & coincided with his first year of eligibility enshrinement. How one’s off the field actions half a decade aft leaving the game are still relevant I do not know. Upshot: timing is indeed fortuitous for some (OJ Simpson) and the kiss of death for others (Tyrer.)

    Case Winston Hill, former Manager Leo Durocher’s ‘nice guys finish last’ adage comes to mind. The day may yet come when the AFL’s ‘legion of the denied’ will be enshrined, perhaps even en masse. Alas, by that time the enshrinees will be long since passed on, likely.

  2. John Spoulos says:

    I wonder had Unitas played the whole game instead of Morall,if the outcome would have been different even though Weeb did a masterful coaching job and the Jets played a great game. Not taking anything away from the Jets, but Unitas had an uncanny way of making things happen and bringing his Colts back….

    • Howard says:

      Unitas claimed that during the halftime of Super bowl III, Shula was going to put Unitas in for the Colts first series of the second half. Shula waited until the Colts had about two or three possessions before making the switch. Unitas claimed that the Colts would have won if he played the full second half.

      I personally doubt that would have happened. While I believe Unitas was a top five quarterback of all time, he was coming off a bad injury. His throws during the game were inconsistent. The Unitas of 1964 could have pulled off a comeback, but, as much as I liked the Colts, they played a lousy game. The Jets played smart, timely offense and solid defense.

  3. John Spoulos says:

    Speaking of those Jets, does anyone know where Sherman Plunkett is now?? I remember him as a wall up front..

    • billd says:

      Sherman Plunkett passed away from cancer in 1989. In Super Bowl III, Unitas entered the game with the Jets in front. The Jets were content to give up the short gain in exchange for eating up the clock.
      Getting back to Winston Hill, in 1965 against the Chargers at Balboa Stadium Winston filled in at center for the Jets due to injuries to the Jet centers. Does this make Winston the first black athlete to play center at the professional level?

      • Virgil Baldon, Jr. says:

        Yes and no…I believe Hill was the first Black center to start a game (I’ve seen that clip from a 1965 newsreel). But I believe Bobby Bell was already Kansas City’s longsnapper on kicks and punts.

        BTW, Bell, Len Dawson and Jan Stenerud were one of only four all-Hall of Fame kicking batteries (longsnapper, holder, kicker). Do you know the other three instances this happened?

        • Virgil Baldon, Jr. says:

          OK, here they are: [1] Cleveland (late ’40s-1954): Frank Gatski, Otto Graham. Lou Groza.[2] Cleveland 1955 (Chuck Noll, Graham, Groza),
          [3] Green Bay (late ’50s-1963) Jim Ringo, Bart Starr, Paul Hornung.

  4. Paul Beaver says:

    I see Colts DB Bobby Boyd about once a year at various athletic functions in Texas, and after 45 years I think I can ask him about Super Bowl III and why the Colts lost and their overall opinion of the Jets.

  5. Virgil Baldon, Jr. says:

    When I was a center and O-tackle in Jr, High and High School football in the late 1960’s, my older football-playing relatives and friends said “if you want to see better line play, watch the AFL guys. Man,they really move!” My favorite LTs were Winston Hill, Jim Tyrer and Ernie Wright, who I saw play in person with Cincinnati. When the Jets played, I was amazed at the intricacies of their pass blocking, where Hill seemingly effortlessly stonewalled rushers. And the way he and opposite tackle Dave Herman blocked for Boozer, Snell and Mathis on “18 Straight” or “19 Straight,” where the back read the linemens’ block on the DE and ran accordingly. The ’68 Jets, ’69 Chiefs, ’68 Raiders, ’63 Chargers and ’62 Texans were, in my opinion, the best line units in AFL History.

    It’s simple…outstanding performance, longevity, leadership and class, all in abundance,,,why isn’t Winston Cordell Hill already in the Hall of Fame? Beats me…

  6. Kevin Carroll says:

    Joe Spencer was the offensive line coach for the Houston Oilers for a couple of seasons in the early 60s. He later coached the Jets offensive line during the ’68 season and Super Bowl III. During an interview with him in the early 90s he told me that Winston Hill may have had the “best feet” of any lineman he ever coached. Spencer said not only was he quick and strong, he was also graceful, and always balanced in all his movements. Assets that made Hill an exceptional pass-blocker.

    Spencer was also instrumental in talking guard Bob Talamini out of retirement and joining the Jets for the ’68 season. In the early 90s Talamini also told me candidly and with a degree of humility that while Namath made the prediction publically, Talamini and all his teammates were confident going into the game that they would beat the Colts. He said they had studied film of the Colts in great depth and the Jets coaching staff had them well prepared for what the Colts would do.

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