2. Joe Klecko, DL, NY Jets
Joe Klecko might go down as one of the most underappreciated players in NFL history. A truly dominant defensive lineman in every sense of the word, Klecko spent 11 years with the Jets earning a reputation as one of the most feared defenders in football.
As part of the famed “New York Sack Exchange” alongside Mark Gastineau, Marty Lyons, and Abdul Salaam, Klecko unofficially set the single-season sack record when he amassed a whopping 20.5 sacks in the 1981 season.
The key word there, however, is “unofficially.”
The NFL didn’t officially start keeping track of sacks until the following season which is why Klecko’s stunning official total of just 24 career sacks is so low.
Nonetheless, Klecko was named the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 1981, was named to four Pro Bowls, has two first-team All-Pro selections to his name, and even had his No. 73 retired by the Jets.
On paper, that sounds like a Hall of Fame resume. But at this stage, it seems unlikely that he gets in.
His best chance came in 2020 when the NFL announced their Centennial Celebration class. Longtime Jets’ offensive tackle Winston Hill was one of the legendary players inducted as part of that class.
Klecko was once again omitted.
Klecko will probably never make it into the Hall of Fame. But if we’re talking about guys who deserve the honor, few ommissions are more glaring than his.
Next: 1. Darrelle Revis