Yesterday, the Pro Football Hall of Fame's selection committee released its list of 15 modern-era finalists for potential enshrinement later this year. Furthermore, one contributor and two senior finalists – players whose career ended more than 25 years ago – are up for vote to become members of the 2016 Hall of Fame class.
As usual, all of the 18 candidates have had great careers and are deserving of Hall of Fame consideration. And as usual, one player who would also have been worthy of at least being in the enshrinement-discussion was once again left out of it: Gino Cappelletti.
In 1960, the then-26-year old Cappelletti made his professional football debut as a member of the newly formed Boston Patriots. Over the course of the 11-year career that would follow, he became one of the most recognizable faces of the young franchise – and one of the American Football League's biggest stars: Cappelletti was a five-time AFL All Star, was voted the league's most valuable player in 1964 and retired as the AFL's all-time leading scorer with 1,130 points.
"The Duke" has earned those accolades not only by being one of the best players of his era, but also by being one of its most versatile ones. As a kicker, Cappelletti made 176 field goals (out of 333 attempts) and 342 extra points. As a wide receiver, he caught 298 passes for 4,770 yards and 42 touchdowns. As a defensive back, he intercepted four passes.
And still, Cappelletti has only one Hall of Fame jacket to call his own: the red one the franchise awarded him in 1992, when he became the second player to be enshrined into the team's Hall of Fame. Despite his on-field success, the 81-year, who has also called 585 games as the Patriots' color commentator alongside Gil Santos, has not been recognized as one of the great players of his time by the Pro Football Hall of Fame and its voting committees – unlike other member of the American Football League.
Overall, 28 former AFL players have a bust in Canton, Ohio.
Gino Cappelletti should be one of them.