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Paul Rochester, member of Jets' Super Bowl team, dies at 81

Former Jets and Sewanhaka High School football player

Former Jets and Sewanhaka High School football player Paul Rochester during the Nassau High School Hall of Fame induction ceremonies at the Crest Hollow Country Club on Sept. 26, 2018. Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan

Paul “Rocky” Rochester, a defensive lineman on the Jets' Super Bowl-winning team in 1969, has died. He was 81.

The team announced Rochester's death on its website Tuesday, saying it happened last weekend but did not provide additional details.

Rochester, who grew up in Floral Park, began his pro football career with the Dallas Texans in 1960. He played three-plus seasons with the AFL team that would become the Kansas City Chiefs. Shortly after being released during the 1963 season, Rochester was signed by the Jets and became their starting left defensive tackle.

He played 6 1/2 seasons for the Jets and capped his playing career by helping Joe Namath and the Jets win the franchise's only Super Bowl title.

“Paul was an underrated defensive tackle who played a major role on the Jets’ Super Bowl championship team,” former Jets public relations director Frank Ramos told the team's website. “He was a great run-stopper who enabled defensive ends Gerry Philbin and Verlon Biggs to rush from the outside and John Elliott, the quick defensive tackle, to rush up the middle. Walt Michaels came up with a scheme to use undersized linebacker Carl McAdams at DT on passing downs, leading the 1968 Jets to have the No. 1 defense in the AFL.”

Rochester retired after the Super Bowl victory and started his own business, Paul Rochester and Associates, which sold building and roofing materials in Florida, Georgia and Alabama. He also sold real estate.

Rochester was born in Lansing, Michigan, and raised in Floral Park. He was a football and lacrosse star at Sewanhaka High School and went to Michigan State. Rochester won the Thorp Award in 1955, given by Newsday to the most outstanding football player in Nassau County. He was inducted into the Nassau County High School Athletics Hall of Fame in 2018.

He was signed by Dallas as an undrafted free agent and was one of only 20 players to play in all 10 of the AFL's seasons before the 1970 merger.

Rochester is survived by his wife Nancy, children Laurel Nielsen and Don, and two grandchildren.

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