Saturday, May 16, 2009
1969 - 1980
129 Games Played
8 Pro Bowls
George James Kunz was a first round pick of the Atlanta Falcons in the 1969 NFL draft. He was the second player chosen overall.
Kunz attended Notre Dame in college, and is one of the best blockers in the schools history. During his era, George was called the most dominant offensive lineman in college football by many.
He was a starter, at right offensive tackle, on the 1966 National Championship Team. In 1967, Notre Dame took advantage of his excellent athleticism by also lining him up at tight end several times during the year. He ended up with seven receptions for just over a hundred yards.
George was named team co-captain in 1968, and ended up being named consensus All-American. Kunz was also an Academic All-American and was recipient of a National Scholar-Athlete Award from the National Football Foundation and an NCAA Post-Graduate Scholarship. He achieved Cum laude honors as well.
George started right away for the Falcons, and made an immediate impact on the NFL. He was named to the All Pro Team, despite playing on a young Falcons offensive line that started two more rookies. Atlanta also struggled to a 6-8 record under their coach Norm Van Brocklin, a Hall Of Fame Quarterback.
Kunz was injured the following year, but was able to start in all of the nine games he played in. Atlanta had the youngest offensive line in the league, featuring four players with one years experience and a rookie, and finished 4-8-2.
George came back strong in 1971, and was named an All Pro again. He would be named an All Pro every year until 1977. He also would not miss a game until 1975.
Atlanta had quite a few excellent players on their team during this time, including Tommy Nobis, Claude Humphrey, and Jeff Van Note. Unfortunately, the team lost more than they won. Their best record, during Kunz's time there, was 9-5 in 1973.
Kunz was traded to the Baltimore Colts before the 1975 season. The Colts stumbled out of the blocks 1-4, but then caught fire. They won nine straight games, before losing to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the division playoffs. The Colts relied on All Pro running back Lydell Mitchell, who often would run behind Kunz for huge chunks of yardage.
The Colts, featuring All Pro players like Kunz, Mitchell, Bert Jones, Roger Carr, Toni Linhart, and John Dutton, would go 11-3 in 1976. Again, they lost to the Steelers in the playoffs.
George's last year as an All Pro was 1977, and the Colts would win their division for the third straight season. This time the Colts faced the Oakland Raiders in the playoffs. They would lose a heart breaker, and Oakland scored as time expired.
Kunz would suffer an injury in the first game of the 1978 season. It was so severe that he would not play again until 1980. That year he started in six of the nine games he played, then retired after the season completed.
When you look at the NFL career of George Kunz, you see supreme excellence. In the eight fully healthy seasons he played in, he was an All Pro each of those times. He was explosive off the snap off the ball, had great mobility, and was exceedingly smart and technically sound.
He dominated his opponents. Point blank. There is no other way to describe his career. There were very few better than him in the history of the game. He did not always play on great teams, but he did play for many excellent Colts teams.
I long have stated that Canton DOES NOT house the best players. The only logical reason a voter can try to come up with is that Kunz played with an Atlanta team that was mediocre. This might be the reason why Nobis, Van Note, and Humphrey still await the call as well.
No other Falcon offensive lineman has been named an All Pro more than George Kunz. In fact, his five nods are the second most in franchise history behind Humphrey. Despite the fact he only played three healthy seasons as a Colt, his three Pro Bowls are the third most by any offensive tackle in that franchises illustrious history.
The 1969 NFL Draft is one of the greatest in the leagues history, and features five Hall Of Famers as well as many players close to being elected. George's 8 Pro Bowls are the second most in this draft class.
There is ABSOLUTELY NO QUESTION that George Kunz belongs in the Pro Football Hall Of Fame!
Notable Players Drafted In 1969 (* Denotes Hall Of Famer)
1. O.J. Simpson, RB, Buffalo *
4. Joe Greene, DT, Pittsburgh *
7. Ted Kwalick, TE, San Francisco
11. Bill Stanfill, DE, Miami
13. Fred Dryer, DE, NY Giants
16. Gene Washington, WR, San Francisco
19. Roger Wehrli, CB, Saint Louis Cardinals
20. Ron Johnson, RB, Cleveland
23. Jim Marsalis, CB, Kansas City
24. Calvin Hill, RB, Dallas
26. Dave Foley, OT, NY Jets
31. Bill Bergey, MLB, Cincinnati
33. Ted Hendricks, OLB, Baltimore Colts *
39. Ed White, OG, Minnesota
40. Jerry LeVias, WR, Houston Oilers
41. Bobby Douglass, QB, Chicago
48. Ed Podolak, RB, Kansas City
50. George Buehler, OG, Oakland
56. Jon Kolb, OT, Pittsburgh
58. Carl Garrett, RB, Boston Patriots
61. Bill Thompson, CB, Denver
63. Mercury Morris, RB, Miami
69. Bill Bradley, S, Philadelphia
80. Bob Kuechenberg, OG, Philadelphia
81. Jim Mitchell, TE, Atlanta
93. Charlie Joiner, WR, Houston *
96. Roy Gerela, K, Houston
99. Jon Zook, DE, Los Angeles Rams
101. Jack Rudnay, C, Kansas City
120. Earl Edwards, DT, San Francisco
124. Fair Hooker, WR, Cleveland
135. Ken Riley, CB, Cincinnati
139. Harold McLinton, MLB, Washington
164. Ted Cottrell, LB, Atlanta (Notable Coach)
191. Larry Brown, RB, Washington
192. James Harris, QB, Buffalo
238. L.C. Greenwood, DE, Pittsburgh
262. Jeff Van Note, C, Atlanta
273. John Fuqua, RB, NY Giants
314. Wade Key, OG, Philadelphia
337. Carl Mauck, C, Baltimore
338. Steve O'Neal, P, NY Jets
364. Roger Finnie, OT, NY Jets
379. Don Herrmann, WR, NY Giants
401. Lloyd Mumphord, CB, Miami