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 Paul Lowe of the San Diego Chargers/Kansas City Chiefs and two HoF running backs, Paul Hornung and Gale Sayers.
Paul Edward Lowe – Took first kickoff in Chargers history (preseason) back 105 yards for touchdown… Fluid runner with breakaway speed… AFL MVP in 1965, two-time All-AFL… Rushed 1,026 times for 4,995 yards (4.9 avg.) and 38 touchdowns, 111 receptions for 1,045 yards and seven touchdowns… Averaged 22.4 yards on kick off returns… AFL All-Time First 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. . .
I find Paul Lowe to be an interesting player in regards to hall of fame credentials. To his detriment, Lowe shared a backfield with Keith Lincoln, and had Lance Alworth split out wide, in addition to Don Norton and Dave Kocourek. Had Lowe not had to share the ball with these other stars, his numbers would have been even better. Additionally, his head coach always though pass-first, which took away more potential carries. Still, Lowe was perhaps the most graceful runner the AFL had, was a threat every time he touched the ball, and he amassed nice career statistics. I had known that Sayers did not have huge career statistics, but frankly I was shocked to see how unimpressive Hornung’s numbers were, especially given that he played on a running team, and his scoring totals are nearly doubled by the points he tallied as a kicker. Granted, he played very well in many championship games, and was still a great player, but his numbers do not scream “Hall of Fame.” Thoughts?