Jim Plunkett deserved to be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. His career, which included two Super Bowl victories with the Raiders, was filled with greatness. But he also suffered from years of physical punishment that left him hobbled and in near constant pain. Plunkett, 69, shared his story with Elliott Almond of the Bay Area News Group.
The first-round pick of the New England Patriots in 1971, Plunkett endured 380 sacks during a 15-year NFL career that ran from 1971 to 1986. The punishment took its toll on the 6-2, 230-pounder. He needed 18 surgeries, including artificial knees and an artificial shoulder, and has to take 13 pills a day for various health issues, per Almond.
After his stint with the New England Patriots, the Oakland Raiders gave Plunkett a chance to regain his confidence and form a winning team. He replaced Dan Pastorini early in the ’80 season and quickly won comeback player of the year. Plunkett led the Raiders to four more playoff wins and a second Super Bowl win in ’83.
Despite his success, some pundits have pointed to Plunkett’s gaudy ratio of interceptions to touchdowns as the biggest reason he isn’t in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. But that ignores the other great things he did for the Raiders in those years. And the death of his former Oakland teammate Kenny Stabler in March, who was diagnosed with Stage 3 CTE, has put the issue of concussions into sharp focus.