The Professional Football Researchers Association is a non-profit organization dedicated to the history of pro football. Membership is open to any fan of the game. It has been in existence since 1979. Since 2003, it annually has "enshrined" a group of players into the Hall of Very Good, which seeks to honor outstanding players and coaches who are not in the Hall of Fame and are not likely to ever make it. The PFRA does not promote any of the electees for the Hall of Fame nor does it view the Hall of Very Good as a springboard for the Hall of Fame. It simply recognizes there are many players and coaches who had great careers who deserve to be recognized.
No Bills player has been "elected" to the HoVG in the eight years since it began. However, Bills great defensive tackle Tom Sestak and Bills coaching great Lou Saban are on the list of 20 candidates for this year's selections.
Sestak was a Hall of Fame talent and was the best player on the Bills' dominant defensive cast in their AFL championship seasons. However, the fact his career lasted only 1962 to '68 has prevented him from getting Pro Football Hall of Fame consideration. He had five great seasons. His last two years were hindered some by bad knees and he retired at age 32. Sestak made the 24-man AFL team of the decade.
Saban compiled a record of 95-99-7 over 16 years as a coach in the AFL and NFL. He was 68-45-4 in nine years with the Bills, from '62 through '65 and '72 through the middle of the '76 season. He won the AFL title in Buffalo in '64 and '65.
The other nominees for the HOVG are: Ken Anderson, QB, Bengals (71-86); Bill Bergey, LB, Bengals-Eagles (69-80); Cliff Branch, WR, Raiders (72-85); Bill Bray, G, Bears-Packers (39-52); Charley Brock, C-HB, Packers (39-47); Bobby Dillon, DB, Packers (52-59); Ken Gray, G, Cards-Oilers (58-70); Cliff Harris, FS, Cowboys (70-79); Harold Jackson, WR, Rams-Eagles-Others (68-83); George Kunz, T, Falcons-Colts (69-80); Paul Lowe, HB, Chargers-Chiefs (60-69); Harvey Martin, DE, Cowboys (73-83); Eddie Meador, DB, Rams (59-70); Lydell Mitchell, RB, Colts-Chargers (72-80); Ted Nesser, T-C, Columbus (20-21); Andy Russell, LB, Steelers (63-76); Jerry Smith, TE, Redskins (65-77); Buddy Young, HB-DB, Yankees-Texans-Colts (47-55).
PFRA members vote. In my opinion, Sestak is a clear-cut choice for the top 10 of the above list. A nominee must get 60 percent of the votes to get in, and there's a minimum and maximum class size. The Class of 2011 will be announced by the end of the year. For more info on the organization go to www.profootballresearchers.org.