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 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?