Countdown: Top 10 Jets of all-time
From their beginning as the Titans to the halcyon days of Super Bowl III to the good-but-not-quite-good-enough teams of the 1980s and '90s, to the hopeful era ushered in by Rex Ryan, there have been plenty of stars players and coaches along the way. Newsday's Bob Glauber ranks the 10 greatest Jets of all-time.
10. LARRY GRANTHAM
A mainstay of the Jets' Super Bowl III defense, Grantham was a five-time Pro Bowler and a five-time first-team All-Pro selection. An original member of the Titans, Grantham was a sure tackler and excellent in pass coverage, producing a combined 20 interceptions in his first eight seasons. Grantham, the Jets' MVP in 1971, was one of only 20 players who played in the AFL for its entire 10-year existence.
9. KEVIN MAWAE
His arrival as a free agent from Seattle, coupled with Curtis Martin's signing, gave the Jets a major building block along the offensive line. And Mawae's staying power was remarkable. A terrific pass blocker and exceptional run blocker, Mawae was voted to the Pro Bowl every year from 1999-04. He was a first-team All Pro from 1999-01.
8. GERRY PHILBIN
Defensive end, 1964-72
Though sacks weren't an official statistic during his career, NFL researchers determined that Philbin had 14.5 sacks in 1968, the Jets' Super Bowl season. Philbin also was instrumental in helping the Jets limit the Colts' high-powered offense to just seven points in Super Bowl III. Though often overlooked by history, Philbin earned plenty of respect among players, coaches and the media, and was a first-team All Pro in 1968-69. ??
7. AL TOON
Wide Receiver, 1985-92
Toon was one of the most physically gifted receivers to play in the NFL, with his long, lean body and flat-out speed making him a favorite target of former first-round quarterback Ken O’Brien. Concussion problems cut short his career after just eight seasons, but in that time, he was a three-time Pro Bowler and a first-team All Pro in 1986. He led the NFL with 93 catches in 1988.
6. MARK GASTINEAU
Defensive end, 1979-88
Gastineau joined Klecko, Marty Lyons and Abdul Salaam on the Sack Exchange and was a premier pass rusher in his era. He held the single-season sack record of 22 (1984) until it was broken by Michael Strahan of the Giants. Gastineau was one of the most flamboyant players of his era. His sack dances were at once entertaining to fans yet annoying to opponents and even some of his teammates, who felt Gastineau’s me-first antics took away from the team. Gastineau played in five Pro Bowls and was a three-time first-team All Pro.
5. WINSTON HILL
Hill, (No. 75, on left) was the anchor of the Jets' offensive lines that protected Namath over the majority of his career. Hill quickly blossomed into an elite talent, and was selected for eight Pro Bowls from 1964-73. Hill has long been overlooked for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but he’s certainly deserving of consideration. Joined Joe Namath, Weeb Ewbank, Don Maynard, Curtis Martin and Joe Klecko in the Jets’ Ring of Honor this year.
4. DON MAYNARD
Wide receiver, 1960-72
An original member of the Titans, Maynard was one of the most productive receivers of his or any era, and many of his Jets records still stand. Finished his career with 11,834 yards and 88 touchdowns, and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1987. In the Jets' Super Bowl season of 1968, Maynard had 1,297 yards and a league-leading 22.8 yards-per-catch average. ?
3. JOE KLECKO
Defensive lineman, 1977-87
One of the most versatile linemen in NFL history, Klecko was selected to the Pro Bowl four times and was a two-time All Pro first-team lineman. Klecko was the first player in NFL history to be voted to the Pro Bowl at three positions: nose tackle, defensive tackle and defensive end. A member of the famed New York Sack Exchange, Klecko was inducted into the Jets’ Ring of Honor in 2010.
2. CURTIS MARTIN
Running back, 1998-05
Bill Parcells signed Martin as a restricted free agent from the Patriots, and it turned out to be one of the biggest acquisitions in franchise history. Martin led the Jets to the AFC Championship Game in his first season, and rushed for more than 1,000 yards every year until knee problems forced his retirement in 2005. With 14,101 career yards, Martin is a certain Hall of Famer.
1. JOE NAMATH
Namath's selection in the first round of the 1965 draft signaled a new era in both New York and pro football at large. The former Alabama star gave instant credibility to the AFL, and his miracle run to Super Bowl III — topped off by the greatest upset of all time against the Colts — gave rise to the eventual AFL-NFL merger in 1970. Namath was a five-time Pro Bowler and one of the greatest on-field leaders of all time. Inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1985.