Jim Plunkett and the Pro Football Hall of Fame

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Oakland Raiders quarterback Jim Plunkett, the game's MVP, prepares to pass against the Philadelphia Eagles during the Raiders 27-10 victory in Super Bowl XV on January 25, 1981 at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Sylvia Allen/Getty Images)

Despite the fact that the Oakland Raiders have had 25 players, executives, and coaches enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, members of the Raider Nation are still upset with the institution. Ken Stabler didn’t get enshrined until he had passed away, and many deserving Raiders, like Daryl Lamonica, Cliff Branch, and Lester Hayes remain absent from Canton, Ohio. However, it’s another Raider, Jim Plunkett, whose absence is discussed the most.

Jim Plunkett and the Pro Football Hall of Fame

First thing’s first, people need to realize that the Pro Football Hall of Fame is a bit flawed. There are a few players, like Troy Aikman, that shouldn’t be in that are. And then are some players, like Terrell Owens, that should be that aren’t. This article is not about whether Plunkett does or doesn’t belong in the Hall as it is now, rather whether his career accomplishments are truly worthy of the institution.

Why?

Why does Jim Plunkett belong in the Pro Football Hall of Fame? The answer is quite simple. He won two Super Bowls for the Raiders. He helped lead the Raiders win Super Bowl’s XV and XVIII. In one of those games, he even won the Super Bowl MVP award. He’s the only quarterback in NFL history to win multiple Super Bowls without being enshrined in Canton. Unfortunately, that’s just about the only reason he should be considered.

Why Not?

If it weren’t for the Super Bowls, Jim Plunkett would’ve been a very forgettable player. Statistically, he was unimpressive, retiring with more interceptions (164) than touchdowns (198). He was never voted to a Pro Bowl, he was never an All-Pro, and his completion percentage barely scraped over 50%. In Plunkett’s most statistically impressive season, he only threw for 2,395 yards, 20 touchdowns, and 18 interceptions.

It’s easy to stop and say that the NFL was different back then, but even in the 70’s and 80’s, Plunkett’s numbers were mediocre at best. In his best season (1983), he was 12th in touchdown passes and 13th in yardage. Players like Lynn Dickey, Bill Kenney, Brian Sipe, and Richard Todd had better years than Plunkett’s career best.

In both years where Jim Plunkett helped lead the Raiders to the Super Bowl, he was a back-up when the season started. Injuries to Dan Pastorini and Marc Wilson forced him into the starting role, and it’s not like he lit up the scoreboard. In fact, when he took over for Pastorini in 1980, Plunkett threw five interceptions.

Sad But True

If Jim Plunkett was a Hall of Fame caliber player, then how come Al Davis and Tom Flores desperately tried to replace him every year? How about 1984, the year after they won the Super Bowl, when Plunkett threw eight interceptions to only four touchdowns to start the season?

Jim Plunkett played a crucial part in helping the Raiders win Super bowls in 1980 and 1983. It’s not totally outrageous to say that they might not have won those championships without him, and for that, he’ll always have a place in the heart’s of the Raider Nation. However, as far as being immortalized in Canton, Ohio is concerned? Plunkett’s resumee just isn’t good enough.

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