Mark Clayton went from eighth-round pick in the 1983 NFL Draft to five-time Pro Bowler and a premier wide receiver in the Dan Marino-led Miami Dolphins offense in the 1980s and early 1990s.
In Clayton’s 11 seasons in the NFL, he had more than 1,000 yards receiving five times and led the league in touchdown catches twice. In total, he’s caught 582 passes for 8,974 yards and 84 touchdowns. He played 10 seasons for the Dolphins and played his last with the Green Bay Packers in 1993.
He finished his career as the second-leading receiver in Dolphins history and helped get the team to a Super Bowl appearance in 1983.
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But he’s still waiting for the call from Canton to be a Hall of Famer.
“I believe I belong there because I don’t know what else I could base it on besides the numbers and stuff. I don’t really like going back and forth with guys’ numbers, but if you look at Harold Carmichael’s numbers … he played in the same era that I did … (and) he played 13 years. I played 11. He’s got maybe a few more catches (590) than me (582) and a couple more yards (8,985-8,974). I got more touchdowns than him (84 to 79). But I had to share my passes with a bunch of other great players and receivers, and I still really produced,” Clayton said Monday in an interview on Full Press Radio.
“I don’t know what more I can say. I played the game at a high level. I went against the best of the best. So, I don’t know what would make it someone else’s turn and not mine.
“I feel like I’m definitely worthy, and I would be quite honored if I would get that call. I think that would really put the icing on my career, even though I didn’t win a Super Bowl … Since Dan is in, I think I had a nice hand in getting him there. I feel like I deserve and I belong there, also.”
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Clayton’s numbers rank up there with Paul Warfield and Lance Alworth. Warfield had 8,565 receiving yards (fewer than Clayton) and 85 touchdowns (one more than Clayton). Alworth had many more receiving yards than Clayton with 10,266 yards and 85 touchdowns.
Both players have Super Bowl rings, whereas Clayton does not.
Clayton had more touchdowns than Calvin Johnson (83), who is going into the Hall of Fame this year. But Johnson had 11,619 receiving yards and didn’t have a quarterback like Marino throwing to him.
Drew Pearson, who is also going to Canton this year, had to wait a long time for his call. He finished his career with 7,822 yards and 48 touchdowns.
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Clayton does have a case but it’s unclear whether the Hall of Fame’s Board of Trustees will agree with him.