Yesterday, the Pro Football Hall of Fame's selection committee unveiled its list of finalists for potential enshrinement later this year. The 15 modern era players are joined by two senior finalists – players whose careers ended more than 25 years ago –, who are also up for vote to become members of the 2018 Hall of Fame class.
All of the 17 candidates have had great careers and are deserving of Hall of Fame consideration. And so would be a former member of the Boston Patriots, who once again has been left out of the enshrinement-discussion: Gino Cappelletti.
In 1960, the then-26-year old Cappelletti made his professional football debut as a member of the newly created Patriots franchise. 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. And as a defensive back, he intercepted four passes.
To date, Cappelletti still has only one Hall of Fame jacket to call his own: The red one the Patriots 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 83-year old, 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, 38 former AFL players have a bust in Canton, Ohio. Gino Cappelletti needs to be one of them.