The best TE not in Canton is a Cowboy

Jay Novacek became a go-to receiver for Troy Aikman during the Cowboys' Super Bowl run, and Talk of Fame Network listeners and readers believe he deserves stronger Hall of Fame consideration.


(Jay Novacek photo courtesy of the Dallas Cowboys)

(Todd Christensen photo courtesy of the Oakland Raiders)

Talk of Fame Network

There’s a shortage of tight ends in the Pro Football Hall of Fame – only seven of them.

So there’s a line that's been forming of talented tight ends deserving a bust and listeners, and readers of the Talk of Fame Network have determined that former Cowboys' great Jay Novacek ought to be at the head of that line.

In last week’s poll, we asked who the best tight end not enshrined in Canton was, and Novacek won the vote by the margin of a mouthpiece, receiving 32.7 percent of the vote to edge Todd Christensen of the Raiders at 32.2 percent.

AFL great Fred Arbanas of the Kansas City Chiefs came in third at 20 percent, followed by Pete Retzlaff of the Philadelphia Eagles at 5.3 percent. Ron Kramer, who played for the Green Bay Packers in the 1950s and ’60 and was voted to the NFL’s 50th anniversary team, joined Ben Coates, an all-decade selection of the 1990s, in rounding out the field.

All three of the Talk of Fame Network voters disagreed with the final vote. All cast ballots for Retzlaff, a pioneer at the position.

''It is difficult for me to ignore Todd Christensen and Ben Coates,” said Talk of Fame Network host Ron Borges, who has spent his career covering the Raiders and Patriots. “But the most deserving is Pete Retzlaff, who was one of the creators of the modern tight end position. He transformed it from a glorified tackle into a productive receiving position. He was both an important transitional player who helped change the game and a productive player whose numbers, in their historic context, argue loudly for his inclusion in Canton.''

NFL Historical Imagery

(Pete Retzlaff photo courtesy of the Philadelphia Eagles)

Host Clark Judge focused on Retzlaff’s versatility. He played every skill position in his career except quarterback for the Eagles.

“I’m going old school,” Judge said. “Retzlaff could play anywhere -- running back, tight end, wide receiver. And he was so good he was named to five Pro Bowls, was a league MVP and set a team record with 23 games with 100 receiving yards. In an era where they ran first and threw second, that works for me.”

Novacek needs to make no apologies. He became Troy Aikman’s go-to guy on third downs for Dallas teams that won three Super Bowls in the 1990s. Novacek went to five Pro Bowls and caught 422 career passes for 4,630 yards and 30 touchdowns. He added two more TDsece in Super Bowls.

Christensen also has a strong case for induction. He led the NFL in receiving twice in the 1980s and, like Novacek, went to five Pro Bowls. He played on two Super Bowl championship teams. Christensen caught 461 career passes for 5,872 yards and 41 touchdowns.

“The bottom line is there are too few tight ends in the Hall of Fame,” host Rick Gosselin said. “These players all deserve stronger consideration, and the position should have a few more busts in Canton.”

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