Gary Jeter, a first-round pick of the Giants in 1977 who played 13 seasons as a defensive lineman in the NFL, died this week at his home in Plainsboro, New Jersey. He was 61.
No cause of death was provided. The Giants and the NFL Players Association confirmed his passing Wednesday.
Jeter was the fifth overall selection in the 1977 draft and a key member of the 1981 team that broke the franchise’s 18- year postseason drought. In six years with the Giants, he played in 75 games with 46 starts, including 32 straight games in 1979-80. He had 200 tackles, 14 unofficial sacks, four fumble recoveries and two blocked kicks before being traded to the Rams after a disappointing 1982 season in which he played in only four games because of a knee injury.
Jeter finished with 52 sacks for his career — they became an official stat in 1983 — and had a career-high 11 1⁄2 in 1988 with the Rams. He had seven sacks in his final season with the Patriots in 1989.
Jeter was born in Weirton, West Virginia, on Jan. 24, 1955, and grew up in Cleveland. He was a dominant college player at Southern Cal, a four-year letterman and a three-time all-conference player from 1973-76. He was a starter as a freshman, a rarity at that time, and helped USC win a national championship as a sophomore. Jeter was named USC’s Defensive Player of the Year as a junior and as a senior he received several All-American honors.
After his NFL career, Jeter settled in New Jersey, where, according to NJ.com, he opened a bakery and worked for USI Services Group, which provides landscape and design services to Fortune 500 Companies. He also worked as a manager of business development at Motivated Security Services in Somerville.
Jeter is survived by his wife, Leslie, daughters Kayla, Breana, Denyse and Ayisha Jeter, and a brother, Alvin. Funeral services will take place in Cleveland, the Giants said, but arrangements have not been finalized.