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New York Jets: Top 3 players worthy of Pro Football Hall of Fame

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - OCTOBER 13: Former New York Jets Marty Lyons #93, Joe Klecko #73 and Mark Gastineau before the start of a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at MetLife Stadium on October 13, 2013 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Lyons is being inducted into the teams' Ring of Honor during halftime. (Photo by Rich Schultz /Getty Images)
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - OCTOBER 13: Former New York Jets Marty Lyons #93, Joe Klecko #73 and Mark Gastineau before the start of a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at MetLife Stadium on October 13, 2013 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Lyons is being inducted into the teams' Ring of Honor during halftime. (Photo by Rich Schultz /Getty Images)
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(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

The Pro Football Hall of Fame class of 2019 is set to be inducted this weekend. Kevin Mawae represents the New York Jets this year. Who can represent Gang Green in the future?

On Saturday, the Pro Football Hall of Fame will officially induct the class of 2019. Among them is former New York Jets great Kevin Mawae. Mawae spent eight years with the Jets and is regarded as one of the best centers to ever play the game.

Two other members of the 2019 class spent time with the Jets as well. Both Ty Law and Ed Reed will be inducted into the Hall of Fame on Saturday, and both spent brief portions of their career in the green and white. Law had arguably his best season in New York, posting a career-high 10 interceptions in 2005.

Although there are several former New York Jets stars that deserve consideration for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

The Jets have a few former players who are worthy of being announced as finalists to be part of the 2020 class. Two of them are two former modern-era finalists. One is a senior candidate who has been waiting for the call for quite some time. Who are they?

Next: A senior candidate awaiting his shot

Joe Klecko

The 2020 group of finalists will be a large group, expanding to 20 members. The group will contain 5 modern-era finalists, 10 senior candidates, three contributors, and two coaches. This is being done in part to celebrate the NFL’s 100th season. Also, it provides a chance of bringing in some very worthy candidates who have been waiting for far too long.

The @ProFootballHOF announces it will have a special centennial class of 20 members next year.5 modern era players, 10 seniors, 3 contributors, 2 coaches. A big chance to clear the backlog of very worthy candidates.

— Judy Battista (@judybattista) August 2, 2019

Joe Klecko should absolutely be among the list of senior candidates for the 2020 class. He has been waiting for his name to be called for 23 years since receiving his eligibility as one of the best do-it-all defensive linemen in NFL history. His induction is long overdue.

Klecko’s ability to play anywhere on the defensive line was unlike any other. He was the first player in league history to make the Pro Bowl at three different positions. He was also listed as an All-Pro at two different positions and is the only player not in the Hall of Fame to ever accomplish that feat.

Klecko’s career stats only list 24 sacks, which is incredibly deceiving. Sacks weren’t counted as a stat until 1982, which was Klecko’s sixth season in the league. In the five seasons prior, Klecko recorded 50 sacks, but they were never added to his career numbers. In 1981, he recorded 20.5 sacks. Unlucky timing to say the least.

Klecko was a game-changer for the Jets, who fell short of .500 in seven consecutive seasons before drafting him in the 6th round of the 1977 draft. They eventually made the postseason four times in the 1981-1986 timespan.

Klecko is worthy of a Hall of Fame bid. Several members of the Hall have vouched for him to be inducted, including Anthony Muñoz, John Hannah, and Howie Long. Joe DeLamielleure, a member of the 2006 class, put Klecko in the ranks of Mean Joe Greene and Merlin Olsen. The players know it, and the fans know it. Joe Klecko should be a Hall of Famer.

Next: A key piece to the 2009 playoff run

Alan Faneca

Alan Faneca was a Hall of Fame finalist this past year but didn’t make the cut. His well-decorated career is well worth a spot in the hall, but he hasn’t made it quite yet. It’s only a matter of time until he’s let in, but for now, he’s on the outside looking in.

Faneca spent 13 years in the league and was one of the most dominant offensive linemen of the early 2000’s. He made the first team All-Pro six times in a seven-year span from 2001-2008, and made the second team in 2003. He started 201 out of 206 career games, and was only inactive for two games in his 13 year career.

Faneca spent most of his career in Pittsburgh, but his time in New York was definitely memorable. He joined the Jets in 2008 and immediately made the Jets one of the most dominant rushing offenses in football.

After being 24th in the NFL with only 3.8 Y/C (yards per carry) in 2007, Faneca gave the Jets a gigantic boost. The Jets were top five in Y/C both years Faneca was with the team. They were also the number one rushing offense in football in 2009 by a landslide. Faneca, D’Brickashaw Ferguson and Nick Mangold led what was the best offensive line in football for those two years.

Faneca was durable, dominant, consistent, and reliable. As one of the most dominant guards of the 21st century, he’s definitely earned a spot in the Hall. It’s only a matter of time before his legacy is immortalized in Canton.

Next: A safety who closed his career in New York

Steve Atwater

Steve Atwater was also a finalist in 2019, but fell short of making the cut. He’s another player who will be back on the ballot sooner rather than later, and will eventually hear his name called in Canton. It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when.

Atwater spent most of his career in Denver, where he racked up 24 interceptions and 1,125 tackles. He was an 8-time Pro Bowler and a 2-time first-team All-Pro member. He was awarded Pro Football Hall of Fame first-team all-1990s team for his stellar performance.

Atwater was one of the most ferocious tacklers to ever play the game. He earned the nickname “Smiling Assassin” through his monster hits. I mean, that’s pretty terrifying. He wasn’t known for his coverage, but rather his toughness and ruthlessness.

Next. NY Jets: Top 10 running backs of all-time

Atwater only played one season with the Jets, but he started 11 games and was a great veteran on and off the field. He eventually retired after his lone season in New York, calling it a career after his 11 great years. Atwater’s been a finalist twice so far, and it’s only a matter of time before he’s officially voted into the Hall.

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