Joe Klecko should be in in bronze, that is the message from New York Jets fans to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. And it is a message that is gaining momentum.
A part of the famed "New York Sack Exchange" that ran rampant throughout the league in the late 70s and early 80s, Klecko is one of the names not in the Pro Football Hall of Fame that remains a bit of a head scratcher. He was a sixth round pick in the 1977 NFL Draft and became, arguably, the best player on one of the league's best ever defensive lines. His peers raved about him and he remains one of the most popular Jets in franchise history. Klecko was one of the first inductees into the team's Ring of Honor.
His numbers could have been far more impressive but the NFL didn't start counting sacks until 1982.
An online petition started earlier this month has over 1,200 signatures asking the hall's selection committee to enshrine Klecko.
“We have some plans in the coming weeks to draw more attention to the petition and we hope that it brings some awareness to the fact that Joe Klecko is more than deserving of this great honor,” said Jason Koeppel, who founded the "Klecko 2 Canton" movement. Koeppel was also one of the moving forces behind FireJohnIdzik.com, a site dedicated to ousting the Jets' former general manager. “It really is hard to say why he has not been inducted yet. A four time Pro Bowler at three different positions on the defensive line - the only player to ever do that - and two-time All-Pro. He won AFC Defensive Player of the Year in 1981 after tallying an eye popping 20.5 sacks. Joe has the outspoken support of Hall of Famers like Howie Long, Anthony Munoz, Joe DeLamielleure, Dwight Stephenson and even highly respected writers like Peter King.”
Four times selected to the Pro Bowl, he was also twice an All-Pro. He was hurt by the fact that while he played defensive end, a switch to a 3-4 defensive front meant that he was bumped to the interior of the line, a role that required him to generate less of a pass rush. But he was nonetheless dominant and feared from the nose tackle position.
Despite former teammates and opponents vouching for Klecko, he still hasn't come close to standing in front of that podium.
Koeppel said that there are plans in the coming weeks to raise the awareness of the Klecko movement although he is pleased that the social media campaign has already generated over 1,200 signatures to date.