Tackle George Kunz Nominated For Hall Of Very Good
EX-COLTS LINEMAN LATEST TO BE CITED
By Joe Platania
For the 10th consecutive year, the Professional Football Researchers Association has selected nominees for its annual Hall of Very Good honor.
This year's 20-strong list includes a former Baltimore-based offensive tackle who wore No. 75, but it isn't Jonathan Ogden.
One of this year's nominees is former Colts right tackle George Kunz, who helped pace the team to its last three postseason berths while in Charm City, the AFC East Division titles from 1975-77.
As a way to cite those players that made a contribution to the game but were not likely to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, the PFRA began the Hall of Very Good in 2003. Nominees are usually announced in midsummer, with the induction class presented toward the end of the calendar year.
Another person included that has Baltimore connections is former Colts and Ravens assistant coach Maxie Baughan, who was cited for his playing days (1960-74), mostly with the Philadephia Eagles. Baughan was inducted into the HVG in 2005.
Other local inductees include ex-Colts defensive tackle Eugene "Big Daddy" Lipscomb (honored in 2006), former Baltimore running back Timmy Brown (2007), Colts head coach Cecil Isbell (2008, for his days as a Green Bay Packers quarterback), Frederick native and ex-Minnesota running back Chuck Foreman (2010) and former University of Maryland head coach Lou Saban (2011).
In 2009, the HVG inducted former Cleveland Browns head coach Blanton Collier, whom future Ravens owner Art Modell famously hired in 1963 after predecessor Paul Brown was controversially fired.
The year after Collier was hired, the Browns won the NFL championship by shutting out the Colts behind a standout performance by Maryland grad Gary Collins. Cleveland has not won a major sports professional championship since.
As for Kunz, the Atlanta Falcons drafted him second overall in 1969 and he played right tackle for the then-hapless team for six years, earning five Pro Bowl berths in the process.
But on Jan. 23, 1975, a trade involving Kunz that would help transform the cellar-dwelling Colts into winners was consummated.
After a 2-12 season in 1974, the Colts held the top overall pick, but traded down two spots. They dealt the first selection and a sixth-round pick to the Falcons for Kunz and the No. 3 pick, with which they took University of North Carolina guard Ken Huff.
In one fell swoop, Baltimore had overhauled a key unit on a team that went on to dominate its intra-divisional foes and make three straight playoff appearances despite not winning a postseason game during that time.
Those games included the 1976 Divisional Playoff home loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, a 40-14 defeat at Memorial Stadium best remembered for the crash of a private plane into the upper deck mere minutes after the final whistle.
Huff would not break Elmer Collett's hold on the starting right guard job until 1977, but proved to be a valuable backup. But Kunz's experience meant that he would have an immediate impact.
Kunz was durable, playing every contest of the era's 14-game seasons during seven of 10 years, starting 126 of 129 career games.
Kunz added three more Pro Bowl appearances to his resume while in Baltimore, giving him eight total, including seven straight from 1971-77. He was also named first-team All-Pro in 1975, the year the Colts reversed a 1-4 start by winning nine straight games and the division crown.
Not only that, the line -- including the 6-foot-5, 257-pound Kunz -- plus stalwart running backs Lydell Mitchell and Don McCauley, as well as fullbacks Roosevelt Leaks and Ron Lee, contributed to one of the league's best ground games.
During the three seasons before Kunz joined the Colts (1972-74), Baltimore scored 32 total rushing touchdowns. But during the ensuing three campaigns, the team ran the ball into the end zone 71 times.
Other notable nominees on this year's HVG list include former Washington running back Larry Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end L.C. Greenwood, Oakland/Los Angeles Raides cornerback Lester Hayes, longtime Buffalo quarterback and former United States Senator Jack Kemp (deceased), and ex-San Francisco 49ers receiver and NFL executive Gene Washington.
There have been seven HVG inductees are later elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, including Minnesota Vikings defensive lineman Carl Eller, Dallas Cowboys speedster Bob Hayes and Washington linebacker Chris Hanburger.
Posted July 10, 2012