All three of these guys need to enshrined at Canton … not just middle and far right…
As regards the NFL Hall of Fame, one of these guys pictured above didn’t “go”; that’s a miscarriage of justice, pure and simple.
Cliff Branch passed away earlier this year. He was in his early 70s, and tragically never received the ultimate honor of enshrinement in Canton. When you look at the total body of work, as well as the force and impact he had on the field as Kenny Stabler’s deep threat, there’s just no justice in this snub.
There are a number of explanations for this situation. First and foremost seems to be a view held by voters that wide receivers have to do a little bit more (perhaps a lot more) to get serious consideration, since they play a finesse position. They don’t go through enough pain, and have longer careers because they don’t play as physical a position. Look at the guys who’ve gotten in recently. They are all titans, almost superhuman (Rice, Moss, Owens, Carter, Irvin, Monk). It is definitely a high, high bar.
Also, Branch played on Raider teams surrounded by superstars, who were clear yes votes. Who in their right mind could argue with Stabler, Caster, Upshaw, Shell, Freddie B.? It is definitely a case of rejection by association.
But if you ask his teammates, or most fans who saw him dominate in the 70s and into the 80s, you’ll know why this man should be given his place in history. His numbers look very similar to those of the great Paul Warfield. 501 catches, 8685 yards, 67 TDs, 17.3 yards per catch for Branch vs. 427 catchs, 8565 yards, 85 TDs and 20.1 yards per catch for Warfield. Warfield’s in and so, too, should be Branch. They were both “great” and that’s all that you need to know.