Marty Lyons to be inducted into Jets' Ring of Honor

Jets defensive tackle Marty Lyons (93) tries to Jets defensive tackle Marty Lyons (93) tries to break through a block in a game against the Patriots. Photo Credit: AP

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Many former NFL players can look back at their careers and boast of some impressive statistics. But only a few can say they actually helped create a statistic.

Marty Lyons, 56, is one of the few. He forever will be associated with the word sack, because as the highest-drafted member of the Jets' defensive line known as the New York Sack Exchange, he played a large part in the NFL's recognition of the sack as an official statistic.

The league started keeping the statistic in 1982, a year after the Jets led the NFL with 66, 14 better than Oakland.

On Sunday the Jets will honor Lyons, a Smithtown resident, by inducting him into the team's Ring of Honor. The former defensive tackle will join the other two primary members of the Sack Exchange, defensive end Mark Gastineau and defensive end/tackle Joe Klecko.

The three played together from 1979, when Lyons was drafted 14th overall, to 1987, Klecko's final season with the Jets. Tackle Abdul Salaam was an original member of the Sack Exchange in 1981 but played only one game in 1983, the final year of his career.

Lyons was a Jet for 12 seasons, with his final one being spent on injured reserve. Though he never made the Pro Bowl, he had 29 career sacks, ninth on the franchise's all-time list. He played 147 games, the most ever by a Jets defensive lineman, and holds the franchise record with two safeties.

Though Lyons grew up in St. Petersburg, Fla., and played for the University of Alabama, he has continued to make Long Island his home since his retirement and has strong ties to the community.

Shortly before the Jets' appearance in the AFC Championship Game in January 1983, the pinnacle of his playing career, Lyons established the Marty Lyons Foundation, which grants wishes to terminally ill children. Lyons also has continued to be associated with the team as an analyst on their radio broadcasts.

Lyons will be the 13th inductee into the Jets' Ring of Honor, which was launched in 2010. Previous inductees are Weeb Ewbank, Winston Hill, Klecko, Curtis Martin, Don Maynard, Joe Namath, Larry Grantham, Freeman McNeil, Gerry Philbin, Al Toon, Gastineau and Wesley Walker.

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