Thursday, March 9, 2017

Mark Bavaro — Greatest Tight End In NFL History?

MARK BAVARO — Fearsome tight end who won Super Bowls XXI and XXV as a member of the New York Giants. He earned back-to-back All-Pro honors in 1986 and 1987 and was inducted into the New York Giants Ring of Honor in 2011.

Does ex-Giants tight end Mark Bavaro belong in Hall of Fame? Patriots' Bill Belichick says ...

Former Giants tight end Mark Bavaro never quite gained enough traction with Hall of Fame voters to make it to Canton, but one former member of the Giants coaching staff in the 1980s made a pretty strong case for Bavaro's candidacy at Super Bowl Media Day: New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick.
Mark Bavaro a.k.a. John Rambo of the NFL

Belichick, who was a Giants assistant from 1979 through 1984, before becoming the team's defensive coordinator under Bill Parcells from 1985 through 1990, raved about Bavaro's blocking prowess in an interview on Media Day. Belichick told the Daily News that Bavaro deserves to be in Canton based solely on holding his own in one-on-one battles with Hall of Fame former Eagles defensive end Reggie White.
via the Daily News:
"I have to say this . . . Mark was as good a player as we had on the Giants and that includes a lot of players," Belichick said. "I know every time we played the Eagles and they played that 'over' he was out there on Reggie White. He blocked him without any help. He blocked Reggie White better than most tackles blocked him. There was not another tight end in the league who could do that. I think that alone should put him in the Hall of Fame. This guy was a great football player."
Mark Bavaro, a devout Roman Catholic made it a habit to 'genuflect' in the end zone and 'motion the sign of the cross' after every touchdown he scored

Belichick also recalled some epic practice blocking drills involving Bavaro and two of the Giants' all-time great defenders, linebackers Lawrence Taylor and Carl Banks.
"If there's a memory in my mind of training camp, it's all the times LT and Carl (Banks) would line up across from Mark in one-on-ones," Belichick recalled Tuesday. "Those were the days back in training camp where you practiced every day in pads. There were no better battles in my entire career than watching Carl and LT go against Bavaro one on one. 
"It was just awesome. All three of them were so good, so competitive, so tough, I don't think Mark has ever got the recognition that any of us who coached him or played against him know that he deserves."
Bavaro was a throwback tight end, a player who relished staying on the line and blocking as much as sprinting down the seam as a receiver. But that didn't stop Bavaro from saying that being compared to Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski — arguably the best receiving tight end in the game — is "pretty cool."
Bavaro's TD celebration varied greatly from his gridiron competitors — who normally celebrated via choreographed end zone dances 

But Bavaro added that he would not have enjoyed playing in today's NFL as much because of how tight ends like Gronkowski are used. His favorite is Jason Witten of the Dallas Cowboys, who he called the best all-around tight end in the game.
"I would definitely have to adapt my football philosophy. I don't think I would like it as much," Bavaro said. "I really enjoyed being on the line. Blocking back then was 80% of the game for me. You'd hope to catch maybe three or four balls a game and have those three or four balls be important. That was the biggest goal I'd have going into a game, to make three or four pivotal catches." 
In fact, one could argue that Bavaro's lack of elite receiving stats is probably what kept him from getting the Hall of Fame recognition that Belichick believes he deserves. His best season was the Giants' hallowed 1986 Super Bowl year, when he caught 66 passes for 1,001 yards with four touchdowns.

Legend In the MakingSports Illustrated

Those are good numbers to be sure, but they don't come close to touching the kind of stat lines you see tight ends like Gronkowski and the Saints' Jimmy Graham putting up. By comparison, Giants tight end Larry Donnell, hardly one of the NFL's elite tight ends, caught 63 passes and scored six touchdowns in 2014.
But Bavaro could block with the best of them, a lost art among today's tight ends. It's obviously harder to quantify than catching the ball, but it makes Bavaro's case for Canton a little more convincing. — Nick Powell |

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