In 1960, Gino Cappelletti made his pro football debut as a member of the newly created Boston Patriots. Over the course of the 11-year career that followed, 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 its all-time leading scorer with 1,130 points.
‘The Duke’ earned all of 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, for example, Cappelletti made 176 field goals (out of 333 attempts) as well as 342 of 353 extra point tries. He also played wide receiver for the Patriots and caught 298 passes for 4,770 yards and 42 touchdowns. Furthermore, he intercepted four passes as a part-time defensive back.
And yet, 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 85-year old, who has also called 585 games as the team’s 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.
However, this could all change in 2020 as the Hall of Fame is considering expanding the number of enshrinees for one season. David Baker, the Hall’s president, recently said that it could potentially add twenty new members next year in order to to deal with numerous deserving candidates not yet being enshrined and to also honor the NFL’s 100-year anniversary. Baker broke it down as follows on SiriusXM earlier this week:
Potentially, we would have twenty Hall of Famers enshrined for the year 2020. Now normally, this year, we have eight. So this would be quite a few guys but it would be the five normal modern-era players elected from fifteen finalists, and then it’ll be ten seniors, three contributors like Gil [Brandt] and two [coaches]. But again, I want to stress that that’s got to be something that is passed by our board at its meeting on Friday, August 2.
Given that he retired more than 25 years ago, Cappelletti would fall under the ‘senior’ category Baker mentioned and could benefit from its potential expansion to ten enshrinees in 2020 — especially considering that only one or two seniors usually enter the Hall of Fame each year. This numbers game has so far prevented the Patriots legend from making its way to Canton, but the change could very well work in his favor now.
Needless to say that Cappelletti is deserving of the honor, and now is the voters’ best chance to show that they agree and recognize him as the all-time great he is.