Howley, Klecko, Riley Nominated by PFHoF Seniors Committee

Pro Football Hall of Fame
Pro Football Hall of Fame
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

NFL Preseason Week 2 - The Pro Football Hall of Fame Seniors Committee has nominated former Dallas Cowboys linebacker Chuck Howley, former New York Jets defensive tackle Joe Klecko and former Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Ken Riley for enshrinement in the 2023 PFHoF class.

All three nominees must be voted upon by the general selection committee when they meet sometime after the NFL playoffs, but that vote has been considered a formality for many years. 

Howley was the MVP of Super Bowl V. He was a five-time All-Pro selection from 1966 through 1970. It’s worth mentioning that the NFL and AFL had separate All-Pro teams for most of that span, making an All-Pro selection roughly equivalent to a Pro Bowl selection.

Joe Klecko was the heart of the New York Sack Exchange defense which also included Mark Gastineau, Marty Lyons and Abdul Salaam. He is unofficially credited with 20.5 sacks in 1981, when he finished second to Lawrence Taylor in the Defensive Player of the Year voting. Sacks became an official statistic in 1982, thanks in part to the popularity of the Sack Exchange. 

Riley ranks fifth on the all-time NFL list with 65 career interceptions. He started at cornerback for the Bengals playoff teams of the mid-70s and the 1981 AFC championship team. He only earned All-Pro notice once, in part because his peak overlapped with the peaks of Hall of Famers like Mel Blount and Michael Haynes.

Mike Tanier’s Take: I’m not one to quibble too much with Pro Football Hall of Fame votes, particularly when it comes to the Seniors committee, who are dipping a tiny ladle into a vast stewpot of overlooked greats.

But …

Riley seems like the odd choice of this group. Lemar Parrish earned more Pro Bowl notice than Riley when they were teammates in the mid-70s, then went on to some excellent years in Washington. I get the sense that Riley received more support because of his status as an “All-Time Bengals great,” while Parrish’s career was split, and he just missed the Washington Super Bowl era. 

Denver Broncos cornerback Louis Wright also earned more Pro Bowl nods than Riley when they were contemporaries, as well as a place on the All-70s team. Broncos observers are predictably upset that Randy Gradishar was overlooked, but Gradishar just doesn’t have the support of his peers and old coaches that fans think he has. Wright has a stronger case, I think, than either Riley or Gradishar. 

As always, I would rather see Howley, Klecko, Riley, Parrish, Gradishar and Wright all get in than advocate for anyone to be left out. 

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6 comments, Last at 21 Aug 2022, 8:33am

1 Surprised...

Howley isn't already in actually. Seems like the most deserving of the three. 5x AP1 and 6x PB along with a ring and SB MVP?  4-3 OLB role gotta be playing key here. 

Riley had one great year ('83) and 3 semi ('75, '76, '81) it seems. Mostly just longevity. Played every year of the 70s and yet couldn't make the 1st team all decade (top 2). And one of the first team all decades, Lemar Parrish, isn't even in despite same number of AP1s (one) but he also had 8(!) more PBs... and they played on the same team for years. 

2 I’m a Broncos fan since the…

I’m a Broncos fan since the early-mid 80s, remember listening to Wright playing on armed forces network (between the medium wave hiss here in the northern end of England), but just missed Gradishar. Reckon they’d quite possibly both be in the Hall by now if they had played in a bigger market, or if they’d won the Super Bowl against the Cowboys. Despite this I’m still happy to see Howley in, and can understand only one LB being picked. Hopefully Gradishar gets in whilst he can still appreciate it, and then maybe Wright will get on the list one day. 

No problems with Klecko getting in. He was a beast and played all along the line.

I don’t know enough about how Riley played other than stats, but hadn’t noticed a great deal of noise about him, I do wonder if him playing in a different position to the other two helped him. 

3 Jerry Jones in the Hall of…

Jerry Jones in the Hall of Fame, and Chuck Howley out, pretty much tells you what you need to know about it as an institution.

4 Biggest Omission

With Chuck Howley finally getting in, it's pretty clear that the biggest remaining omission that the PFHOF needs to correct is Don Coryell.

5 Glad Howley and Klecko are…

Glad Howley and Klecko are probably getting in now.  Surprised a little about Riley, but he was near the top of the interceptions leader board for a while.  I figured Ken Anderson would get the nomination.

6 Howley in is food. Klecko is…

Howley in is food. Klecko is in good. Riley in is weird. Lemar Parrish more respected cornervskc on same tema as Riley ar time when they played. Now here jn 2022, Riley more respected. Weird time element in play. Would be like if people decide in 2052 that alll the award giver Outers and Pro Blow voters in 2022 were dumb and that maybe Daniel Jones was bettter than Lamar Jackson from 2019-21. 


Howley oen of tops nubs for years now. Klecko lunch pail guy. Tremendous strength. Plzyed all over on line liek Raiders gerat Howie Long. Think Klecko does belong in Hall of Gams.


Assuming these three all get in Hall of GMe now these would be some of remaining snubs-

Louis Wright 

Randy Gradishar

Sterling Sharpe

Lester Hayes

Lemar Parrish (if Riley gets in, I mean, c'mon, Parrish needs to be in)

Maxie Baughan 

Eddie Meador

Mike Kenn


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