Joe Klecko will have to wait another year to clear his next Hall of Fame hurdle.
The Pro Football Hall of Fame Seniors Committee, meeting today in Canton, OH, named iconic Sixties Packers guard Jerry Kramer and Oilers linebacker Robert "Dr. Doom" Brazile as this year's two Seniors finalists for the Hall of Fame's Class of 2018.
Some rumors out of Canton were that Klecko, 63, who played for the Jets from 1977-87, was the all-business face of the "New York Sack Exchange" and was a Pro Bowl choice at three different defensive line positions, was trending in the minds of some on the Seniors Committee. But when the ballots were counted, he was not selected.
"I came home to my wife recently and I told her, I really don't know whether to get excited or not," Klecko told Eric Allen and Ethan Greenberg on this morning's Jets 360 Live show before the Green & White's final training camp practice, before hearing any word from Ohio. "There's been times when I really thought it was a possibility. The key word to this is being immortalized. To have that happen is a little bit beyond imagination. But to get excited about it after all these years, I'm having a tough time."
Klecko has never been one to toot his own horn, but so many others we've reached out to were happy to sing his praises. Hall of Fame members Howie Long, Joe DeLamielleure, Anthony Muñoz and Dwight Stephenson have spoken about Klecko's Hall credentials in the past and have done so again on the newyorkjets.com microsite dedicated to Klecko's bid for that aforementioned immortality.
"That's what I'm proud of," Klecko said. "I'm proud that the people who know, do know."
Select Shots of Jets Legend Joe Klecko
It's important to note that Kramer and Brazile have not made the Hall of Fame yet. They are guaranteed spots "in the room" when the 48 HOF selectors meet Feb. 3, 2018, the day before Super Bowl LII is played at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.
The Seniors and Contributor finalists are voted on for election to the Hall independent of the 15 Modern-Era finalists who will be deliberated upon that day. Like all nominees, the Senior and Contributor nominees on the final ballot of the day must also receive 80 percent approval of the Selection Committee for election.
Also noteworthy is that since 2007, when each year's finalist pool first included 15 Modern-Era candidates and two Seniors nominees, 17 of the 20 Seniors nominees, 85%, went on to induction into the Hall of Fame the year they were selected. And two of the three Seniors who didn't go in that first year were selected in succeeding years.
Last, we'd like to set the stage for the Seniors Committee balloting a year from now. The Hall of Fame is alternating Senior and Contributor finalists on a 2-1/1-2 basis through 2019. So next year there will be two Contributor Finalists and only one Seniors Finalist nominated.
That makes the road even steeper for Klecko to make the Class of '19. But we know No. 73 will be back knocking on the door again.