By: Jordan Kendall, Columnist
The Pro Football Hall of Fame announced the 130 modern-era nominees for the Class of 2021. Among the notable players were former quarterback Peyton Manning, wide receiver Calvin Johnson, and cornerback Charles Woodson. But for Towson fans, one name who should stick out is former Tigers punter Sean Landeta. He’s arguably the most successful former Towson player to play in the NFL, and he’s been in the discussion for a gold jacket for a long time. Punters have had a hard time getting into Canton; former Oakland Raider Ray Guy is the only pure punter currently enshrined. But I think it’s time for more punters to get the recognition they deserve, and Landeta should be one of them.
Numbers Never Lie: If there’s one stat that Hall of Fame voters like, it’s longevity and there aren’t many players who have played as long as he did. He played in 284 games over 22 seasons and is 17th all-time in games played. Of the 16 players ahead of him, six are currently in Canton and Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady is a shoo-in at this point.
Not only did he play for a long time, he’s also played well for a long time. Each season where he played at least 10 games his punting yard average was never below 42 yards. Landeta was also a first-team All-1980s punter and second-team All-1990s.
In a Sports Illustrated article, Rick Gosselin, recounted Landeta’s career statistics after his retirement in 2005.
“When he retired after the 2005 season, Landeta had punted more times (1,401) for more yards (60,707) than anyone in NFL history,” Gosselin said.
Looking at the history of the NFL, it’s hard to find many punters that can compare to what Landeta did. What stood out to me the most when looking at his resume is the fact that he was named to two all-decade teams. Not only does this mean he played in two decades which very few can say, but also he was so good in both of those decades that no other punter deserved it more. Only seven other players have made it on two all-decade teams since his last appearance on the 1990’s team. It’s hard enough to play 20 years in the NFL, but to be so dominant for so long I think speaks to the type of player he was.
Impact on multiple teams: When you play for 20 years, chances are it’ll be on a few teams. Not only did Landeta play for five teams in his career, he left his mark on three of them. According to Gosselin, he “was named to the 20th Anniversary Team for the St. Louis Rams, the Philadelphia Eagles 75th Anniversary Team, and the All-Time New York Giants Team.” It didn’t matter where he played, he produced at a high level and his punting average and longest punt are almost identical for all three teams.
I’m having trouble thinking of another player who had this type of impact for three teams, and as someone who knows the history of the NFL well, I think that goes to show how dominant Landeta was. The only one that immediately comes to mind is Hall of Fame cornerback Deion Sanders. He spent most of his career with the Atlanta Falcons but also helped both the San Francisco 49ers and Dallas Cowboys win a Super Bowl. There are plenty of examples of players who made significant contributions to two teams, but to do it with three is that much more impressive.
As a Modern Era nominee, it’s going to be hard for Landeta to get in. He’ll have to compete with both recently retired players and anyone who retired in the last 25 years. As a punter that’s a lot of competition for a position that’s been mostly ignored by the voters. I feel that his resume speaks for itself, and while I don’t expect him to be a member of the Class of 2021, I believe the voters need to give him some serious consideration for once. He’s in the Towson Hall of Fame and the college football Hall of Fame, I think it’s time we finally add the pro football Hall of Fame to the list.