In honor of the NFL’s 100th birthday, the Pro Football Hall of Fame decided to expand its next enshrinement class and add a 15-member “centennial slate.” Among the finalists announced in mid-December also was a former member of the New England Patriots: long-time team executive Francis “Bucko” Kilroy was one of 10 contributors to be voted in or out by a 25-member panel that also included Patriots head coach Bill Belichick.
However, when the Hall of Fame announced the centennial class on Wednesday, Kilroy’s name was nowhere to be found. Instead, the three contributors chosen for induction later this year were former NFL Films president Steve Sabol, long-time NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue, and ex-general manager and five-time Executive of the Year George Young. Kilroy, meanwhile, will have to wait at least another year for enshrinement.
Still, the mark he left not only on the Patriots but the NFL in general cannot be denied. Not only was Kilroy responsible for drafting some of the greatest players in league history — Hall of Famers John Hannah and Mike Haynes among them — he also was a co-founder of the scouting combine. His Hall of Fame résumé therefore is a strong one, but the voters apparently saw other candidates as more worthy of enshrinement.
Kilroy first entered the NFL with the Philadelphia Eagles for whom he lined up between 1943 and 1955. As a two-way player whose positions were along the offensive and defensive lines, he won two championships while also being named All-Pro on six separate occasions and to the NFL’s team of the 1940s. After his playing days had ended, Kilroy became a scout — first with the Eagles, later with the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins.
In 1971, he finally moved to New England where he spent the next 36 years in various roles. Kilroy worked as personnel director from 1971 to 1978, as general manager between 1979 and 1982, as vice president between 1983 and 1993, and finally as scouting consultant until 2007. At the time of his death at the age of 86 in July 2007, he had been a contributor to 14 of the club’s 15 playoff seasons at the time and had won three Super Bowls.
2020 Pro Football Hall of Fame centennial slate
- Bill Cowher (1992-2006 Pittsburgh Steelers)
- Jimmy Johnson (1989-1993 Dallas Cowboys, 1996-99 Miami Dolphins)
- Steve Sabol (1964-2012 NFL Films president)
- Paul Tagliabue (1989-2006 NFL commissioner)
- George Young (1968-1974 Baltimore Colts, 1975-78 Miami Dolphins, 1979-1997 New York Giants)
- WR Harold Carmichael (1971-1983 Philadelphia Eagles, 1984 Dallas Cowboys)
- OT Jim Covert (1983-1990 Chicago Bears)
- S Bobby Dillon (1952-59 Green Bay Packers)
- S Cliff Harris (1970-79 Dallas Cowboys)
- OT Winston Hill (1963-1976 New York Jets, 1977 Los Angeles Rams)
- DT Alex Karras (1958-1962, 1964-1970 Detroit Lions)
- S Donnie Shell (1974-1987 Pittsburgh Steelers)
- OT Duke Slater (1922 Milwaukee Badgers, 1922-25 Rock Island Independents, 1926-1931 Chicago Cardinals)
- E Mac Speedie (1946-1952 Cleveland Browns)
- DE/LB/E Ed Sprinkle (1944-1955 Chicago Bears)