Talk of Fame Network
By his own admission, Jimmie Giles always wanted to be "the best tight end who played the game." And while he didn't quite get there, he did make a name for himself at the position.
In fact, he was so accomplished that four times he was chosen to the Pro Bowl and in 2011 was elected to the Tampa Bay Bucs' Ring of Honor. He has not, however, made it to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and that’s not exactly a surprise. There are only eight modern-era tight ends there.
But what is odd is that he has never made it as a finalist or semifinalist. Moreover, his name this year was omitted from the Hall's list of 94 modern-era candidates for the Class of 2017.
"Since I retired from the NFL," he said on the latest Talk of Fame Network broadcast, "I've had a number of Hall-of-Fame players asking me if and when I thought I was going to be in the Hall of Fame. I know those guys think enough about me to say that, or to say I should be there.
"I'm not going to sit here and tell you I shouldn’t be. Because if you can strive to be the best player ... if those are some of the parameters of being a Hall of Famer ... if you strive every day to make your team better, you listen to the coaches and try to do what they say within the framework of the position, of course, I think I should be in there.
"When you have teams that game-plan to stop one individual, you've got to think he should have a shot and should be looked at. I've been talking to Dan Hampton and Richard Dent (Hall of Famers from the Chicago Bears), and those guys told me their whole game plan was: If you stop Jimmie Giles, you stop the Bucs. Because I worked to beat them. And I had some tremendous games against them."
He had tremendous games against a lot of people. In 1985, for instance, he caught four touchdown passes vs. Miami – still a Tampa Bay team record, and his average of 14.5 yards per catch is greater than Hall-of-Fame tight end Kellen Winslow. In nine years with the Bucs he had 34 touchdown receptions, and that, too, is a franchise record.
But Giles, now in his 23rd year of eligibility, was more than a receiver. He was a complete player, who prided himself on being a solid blocker – much along the lines of a Mike Ditka, Charlie Sanders or even John Mackey. But it took Mackey 15 years to get to Canton, so Giles understands what he's up against. That doesn’t mean he agrees with it, but it does mean he can explain it … which he did.
"When you look at a guy like John Mackey," he said, "he kind of changed the game a little bit, and he was pretty good blocker himself ... When they did start putting those guys in, obviously, it was in my mind that some day I would get there. But that was long after my career had excelled in the National Football League.
"I think most of the writers (on the board of voters) just didn't think there was much glamor in the position. But there was a lot of brute strength and force in it when Ditka and Sanders and, of course, John Mackey played. So, at some point, you have to consider it. But truth be told, there are a lot of tight ends in the league. You just have to make your own path and excel at it."