Jets legend Joe Klecko was selected as a finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s class of 2023 on Wednesday, moving him one step closer to enshrinement.
Klecko, Chuck Howley and Ken Riley were chosen as the three senior candidates from a list of 12 semifinalists. Klecko will be elected to the Hall if he receives support from 80 percent of the voters in January, something that is usually just a formality for senior candidates. He would then be enshrined in Canton next summer after years of waiting.
Klecko played 11 seasons for the Jets and was a key figure in the team’s famed “Sack Exchange” of the early 1980s, along with Mark Gastineau, Marty Lyons and Abdul Salaam. Klecko was a two time All-Pro selection and made the Pro Bowl at three different positions — nose tackle, defensive tackle and defensive end. He spent the final season of his career with the Colts.
Sacks did not become an official stat until 1982, but Pro Football Reference researched sacks prior to that year and credits Klecko with 78 in his career. That is second in Jets history, trailing only Gastineau’s 107.5.
Klecko was credited with 20.5 sacks in 1981, the year he finished second to the Giants’ Lawrence Taylor in Defensive Player of the Year voting.
The Jets selected Klecko in the sixth round of the 1977 draft out of Temple. He played in 140 games for the team from 1977-87.
Howley is the only player from a losing team ever to be selected as Super Bowl MVP, earning the honor in Super Bowl V for the Cowboys in their loss to the Colts. The linebacker intercepted two passes in the 16-13 loss. He was All-Pro five times in his 15-year career.
Riley played 15 years for the Bengals at cornerback and intercepted 65 passes.
Darrelle Revis will be on the Hall of Fame ballot for the first time in January, presenting a possible double election for the Jets.