Believe it or not — and it does tax the imagination — but there is a semi-pro football hall of fame.
And a Bronco from the 1977 Super Bowl team is in it!
The American Football Association (AFA) is an organization composed of individuals and teams having to do with semi-professional football.
Since 1981, the AFA has maintained a Semi-Pro Football Hall of Fame, with the total number of inductees now at 777.
That includes, according to the AFA, “470 players, 109 coaches, 89 executives, 33 officials,” and numerous others.
However, we all realize that most fans have not heard of many of the Hall of Famers, but the Hall deserves its own dignity, however small.
The Hall came to my attention via Mark Ford, executive director of the Pro Football Researchers Association, who wrote a terrific piece on the Hall in the PFRA Coffin Corner publication.
The name that was most interesting to me was Jack Dolbin, who was signed as a free agent for the Denver Broncos by then-head coach/general manager John Ralston.
Dolbin played here in the late 1970s and was a key wide receiver on our Super Bowl XII team.
I certainly realize that many of today's fans have never heard of him, but bring his name up to fans from the 1970s, or to a veteran and honored columnist like Woody Paige, and I guarantee you will get an immediate positive response.
My own honest opinion is that I have never seen a more sure-handed and often spectacular receiver than Jack Dolbin.
His success is not only worthy of a book, but I devoted an entire chapter to him in my first book, “Game of My Life.”
But how he became a member of the Semi-Pro Hall of Fame is that before playing in Denver, Dolbin played for the legendary Pottstown Firebirds, as well as for the Schuylkill Coal Crackers, and then for the Chicago Fire in the defunct World Football League.
He later was a starter on a Broncos Super Bowl team, and certainly one of the classiest guys I ever had as a player, but it was primarily for his exploits as the main receiver for Jim “King” Corcoran with Pottstown that earned him this HOF honor.
Corcoran was one of the most famous characters in football history. Books and NFL Films pieces were done on Corcoran and the Firebirds, with Dolbin as his most prominent target.
So, it was Jack Dolbin who first drew my attention to this smaller hall of fame, but I was surprised to see that other members include Bob Kuechenberg, Coy Bacon, Johnny Unitas (yes, inducted in 1987), and Billy Kilmer.
The great Vince Lombardi was voted in as a player in 1988. He played one season with the Wilmington Clippers and one with the Brooklyn Eagles. Bill Walsh was inducted in 1988 because he had once been head coach for the minor league San Jose Apaches.
Dolbin was selected as part of the class of 1985, and Jack is the kind of guy who is appreciative and humble about any honor that comes his way.
Many days have gone by since Dolbin played for us, but I think any honor deserves tribute, and we once again congratulate Jack Dolbin for his membership in a hall that most fans do not know exists, but who credit all players for their accomplishments at every level.