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.
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 Berry – Formed 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” McDonald – Eagles’ 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.