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Hall of Fame debate: Daryle Lamonica


biggie.

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To me, Lamonica is one of the most fascinating players. The man simply did not give AF when throwing the ball and earned the nickname "The Mad Bomber" for his extremely aggressive passing. He was also 62-16-6 as the starter for da Raidahs. and only Hall of Famer Otto Graham has a better win %. Statistically, considering his style of play and the times, he was really good too, having a couple of 30+ touchdowns at a time when it was much rarer. It seems like what's really holding him back is due to his relatively short career with da Raidahs; he only effectively played six seasons for them.

What do y'all think? Should Lamonica get more consideration?

Edited by biggie.
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He's an interesting case - I need to do more research on it and don't have time, but at first glance I'd at least put him on the bubble - in 6 yrs as a starter, he made 4 Pro Bowls and 2 AFL All-Pro teams, and won an AFL MVP. Still, as deceiving as a "top ten" AFL finish can be (they only had 10 teams, you'd BETTER finish in the top 10) when you look at both leagues he'd have been at or near the top for td passes, and easily top 5 for yds, but then post-merger his effectiveness really dropped off. 

 

I think you can ding him for falling off from dominant to good post-merger, and I'd probably say his window of greatness was maybe a couple years less than you'd prefer. Hall of Very Good on the HoF bubble - basically if I had a vote, I wouldn't vote for him, but if he got in anyway I wouldn't be upset about it either. 

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17 minutes ago, Apparition said:

I don't see how his case is any weaker than that of a guy like Kurt Warner

Their peaks were about the same length, if we boil down peak Warner to the 3 year run in STL and the 3 year run in Arizona, but there's a huge hardware gap there. Warner is one of the best post-season QBs in NFL history, while Lamonica tended to falter there. Warner has 3 superbowl appearances with 1 victory, while Lamonica just has the one loss to Green Bay. Warner has 2 MVPs in a full league, while Lamonic just has the AFL one.

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7 minutes ago, Jakuvious said:

Their peaks were about the same length, if we boil down peak Warner to the 3 year run in STL and the 3 year run in Arizona, but there's a huge hardware gap there. Warner is one of the best post-season QBs in NFL history, while Lamonica tended to falter there. Warner has 3 superbowl appearances with 1 victory, while Lamonica just has the one loss to Green Bay. Warner has 2 MVPs in a full league, while Lamonic just has the AFL one.

Serious question: Are we discounting pre-merger AFL championships? I've always been iffy on that because while the Super Bowl was a thing as of 1966, the AFL and NFL were operating as two leagues, independent of each other until 1970.

Edited by Apparition
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13 minutes ago, Apparition said:

Serious question: Are we discounting pre-merger AFL championships? I've always been iffy on that because while the Super Bowl was a thing as of 1966, the AFL and NFL were operating as two leagues, independent of each other until 1970, and Lamonica's Raiders won three "AFL Championships" in this period. 

AFL Championships absolutely do not count, IMO. Prior to 1968, you won an AFL Championship by winning one playoff game. The playoff bracket was literally two teams, because you had less than 10 teams in the league overall. If someone wants to count them, it needs to be clearly noted that it is a pre-merger championship, not a full league championship. No one can convince me the '62 Dallas Texans (pre-Chiefs) achieved something on par with the '69 or '19 Chiefs.

Even if we do count AFL championships, you're not correct, there, though. Lamonica's Raiders only won one. They beat the Oilers in '67 before losing to the Packers in the suprebowl. In '68, they expanded to 10 teams, made it a two round playoff, and the Raiders lost to the Jets in '68, and the Chiefs in '69. I assume you're pulling up his page on PFR or something, but that is counting his two AFL Championships as Jack Kemp's backup in Buffalo in '64 and '65. In those two championship games, he threw one pass, a completion, for 12 yards, and that was it. So he wasn't the winning QB an either, he was just on roster. It's like how Matt Moore is listed on PFR as a superbowl champion. It is 100% true, but also not really a credit to the player.

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Anyway, I think Lamonica is a really interesting figure, in retrospect, just from a playstyle perspective, but I do think there are legitimate reasons he isn't in the hall. And I could be wrong, but I don't believe he's been a finalist before, either. I can't find a record of him being one, in any case.

There was a very powerful narrative, right or wrong, that the AFL was an inferior league. And there are plenty of AFL greats that have not gotten their shot at the hall because of it. Jim Tyrer had a resume with the Texans/Chiefs to match Forrest Gregg's, but the former's achievements were in the AFL, while the latter's were in the NFL. I haven't seen enough to really say if this is fair, nor do I even think it's really possible to. But the universal perception was that NFL > AFL. And as the merger hit, the AFL guys who got their due were the ones who proved it post-merger. The ones that still brought it when they had to go against the big boys. Namath and Dawson were the two big hall of famers to come out of the AFL at QB for this reason. They won the first two superbowls for the AFC. They were the two QBs that wound up showing that the AFL belonged. That mattered. Jack Kemp, John Hadl, kind of forgotten, by comparison.

And Daryle Lamonica was kind of the perfect embodiment of this belief. That stretch he had from '67 to '69 was as good as the AFL had really seen. But he faltered against Green Bay in the second Superbowl, and he did not hold up post-merger. He started seeing better opposition, and he started seeing more zone defense, and the tried and true strategy of Belitnekoff and Wells running faster than everyone, and Lamonica throwing further than everyone, just didn't hold up. The NFL had caught up to his schtick. And it still worked sometimes. Schemes still weren't that complicated back then, and man was still just all around easier to do. But Lamonica didn't adjust well, hence the pretty quick decline after '69.

And this is the big thing that keeps Lamonica from being another Warner, or Davis, Sayers, or Sterling Sharpe (even though he isn't in.) When you have a short career, it needs to be fantastic to justify a ticket to the hall. And Lamonica was halfway there. But unlike the other guys in that category that have or should make it, Lamonica didn't disappear early because he was hurt. He didn't choose to retire mid-prime. He just wasn't that good anymore. That's why the Raiders willingly moved on to Stabler, who could do what the NFL now required of great QBs. And that's a big part of why Stabler did get them over the hump, and did make the hall in the end.

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3 hours ago, Jakuvious said:

Namath and Dawson were the two big hall of famers to come out of the AFL at QB for this reason. They won the first two superbowls for the AFC. They were the two QBs that wound up showing that the AFL belonged. That mattered. Jack Kemp, John Hadl, kind of forgotten, by comparison.

And Daryle Lamonica was kind of the perfect embodiment of this belief. That stretch he had from '67 to '69 was as good as the AFL had really seen. But... he did not hold up post-merger. He started seeing better opposition, and he started seeing more zone defense, and the tried and true strategy of Belitnekoff and Wells running faster than everyone, and Lamonica throwing further than everyone, just didn't hold up. 

And this is the big thing that keeps Lamonica from being another Warner, or Davis, Sayers, or Sterling Sharpe (even though he isn't in.) When you have a short career, it needs to be fantastic to justify a ticket to the hall. And Lamonica was halfway there. 

Edited down, but this captures the gist of it - Lamonica was as good as anyone in the AFL....no small feat, when "as good as" includes Namath, Dawson, Kemp, and (early) Bob Griese*; but when the merger happened, most of those guys held serve with no problem. Lamonica, while still good, didn't. 

 

 

* who doesn't fit my definition of a HoFer either but that's for another day

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