Mark Bavaro, the only tight end on the 2017 ballot, hopes to join only eight others at the position in the Professional Football Hall of Fame. In comparing career stats (total yards, touchdowns, average yards per reception) to other HOF tight ends, one will conclude that Bavaro, albeit a two-time Super Bowl winner, does not make the cut.
One must dig deeper than the surface.
Bavaro’s career ended prematurely due to a degenerative knee condition. As the New York Times chronicled in 1991: “In a move untypical for the Giants, who have traditionally been generous with injured players, the Super Bowl champions today waived Mark Bavaro, their onetime All-Pro tight end.” Ray Handley, the newly promoted Giants coach (after Parcells’ departure), told the Times: “The doctor advised him against playing football again”.
Phil Simms, Giants’ Super Bowl winning quarterback, and fellow 2017 Canton candidate, in 1991, remarked: “After the 1986 Super Bowl, I said the greatest tight end who ever played is a player for the Giants right now. I never saw Mike Ditka play, but a lot of people think if Mark continued to play at that pace, everyone would be compared to him.”
So, what happens when you shorten the eight current Hall of Fame tight ends’ careers to match the length of Bavaro’s 9 seasons?
To further examine his chances of being inducted into the elite club, I decided to focus on four statistics, which, to me, are the best indicators: touchdowns, total yards, yards per reception, and number of Super Bowls. Obviously, in a data-driven world, there are more statistics that are factors.
Based on the data I presented above, it seems as though Bavaro fits right in with the current Hall of Fame tight ends. He deserves to be enshrined in Canton.
- Bavaro has more touchdowns than Charlie Sanders and the same amount as Ozzie Newsome.
- Bavaro has amassed more total yards than Sanders.
- Bavaro’s average yards per reception is third-best after to John Mackey and Jackie Smith.
- Bavaro has more Super Bowl victories than 6 of the 8 current inductees.
If statistics alone are not enough to push Bavaro to Canton, perhaps the intangibles are enough to punch Bavaro’s ticket. In 2015, prior to Super Bowl XLIX, Bill Belichick said: “I think Mark’s in a really special category. His toughness, his overall complete play as a tight end and blocker, just as a total competitor was just outstanding. I don’t think Mark has ever gotten the recognition that any of us that coached him or played with him know that he deserves.” Belichick, as Giants defensive coordinator, won his first two Super Bowls with Bavaro. Belichick,currently the head coach of the New England Patriots, having coached under Hall of Fame head coach Bill Parcells, is arguably a Hall of Fame head coach, himself.
In an unofficial Twitter poll, Mark Bavaro finished 26 percentage points behind quarterback Phil Simms, whom linebacker Lawrence Taylor told me was a shoe-in.
— Danielle McCartan (@CoachMcCartan) September 21, 2016
Verdict: Bavaro is inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2017.