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.
Tom Sestak was a dominant defensive tackle for the Buffalo Bills. “Big Ses,” was an anchor of the Bills line from 1962-1967, when knee injuries ended his career. There are only six defensive linemen who played in the 1960s, who were all-league selections in three-or-more seasons – Bob Lilly, Merlin Olsen, Gino Marchetti, Deacon Jones, Willie Davis and Tom Sestak. Of the six, Sestak is the only one that is not a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
William Delford Davis. . .15th-round draft pick, 1956. . . Played Army football prior to joining 1958 Browns. . .Career turning point came with 1960 trade to Green Bay, where he became a defensive standout. . . Had speed, agility, size. . . Great team leader, dedicated, intelligent. . . All-NFL five seasons. . . In five Pro Bowls, six NFL title games, two Super Bowls. . . Didn’t miss a game in 12-year, 162-game career. . .Born July 24, 1934, in Lisbon, Louisiana.
Henry Wendell Jordan. . .Cleveland fifth-round draft pick, 1957. . .Traded to Packers for fourth-round pick, 1959. . . Became 11-year fixture at right defensive tackle. . .Quick, smart defender, specialized in pressuring quarterback. . .All-NFL six times. . . Played in four Pro Bowls, seven NFL title games, Super Bowls I, II. . .Missed only two games first 12 seasons . . . Born January 26, 1935, in Emporia, Virginia. . . Died February 21, 1977, at age of 42.
Robert Lewis Lilly. . .Consensus All-America at Texas Christian. . . Cowboys’ first-ever draft choice (1961), first Hall of Famer (1980). . . Foundation of great Dallas defensive units. . .Had unusual speed, strength, intelligence, recovery ability . . .All-NFL/NFC eight years. . . Named to 11 Pro Bowls. . .Played in five NFL/NFC title games, two Super Bowls. . . Missed just one game in 14 years. . .Born July 26, 1939, in Olney, Texas.
Thomas Joseph Sestak…17th-round draft pick, 1962…Drafted as a tight end, but moved to defensive tackle in his rookie season…Leader of defensive line that was in AFL playoffs in 1963-66…Unanimous All-AFL defensive tackle three seasons in a row…Four-time AFL All-Star…Bills defense held opponents without a rushing touchdown for 17 consecutive games…Scored three touchdowns, two on interceptions, one on fumble recovery…Member of the AFL All-Time First Team…Died April 3, 1987, at age of 51.
Tom Sestak appears to have been every bit the ballplayer that the Davis, Jordan and Lilly were. His injury-shortened career perhaps plays against him, but he was very impressive during his time. What do you think?