The New York Jets have hovered somewhere in-between a joke and mediocre for their entire existence with the exception of one magical season. The easy thing to do would be to put every member of the 1968 Super Bowl III Championship team on the New York Jets All-Time Franchise Team and if anyone tried to say anything just point to the ring, but I can’t do that. I will pay respect to the legends of yesteryear, but I’ll be showing deference to guys I actually saw play.
The New York Jets All-Time Franchise Team
I can’t discount the production and results of Joe Namath, but performances by guys like Kenny O’Brien, Vinny Testaverde, and Brett Favre, guys I’ve actually seen play, hold a greater impact on my mind’s eye. Unfortunately, nobody cares about my mind’s eye, so I’m going with the obvious choice in Namath. The guarantee, the Super Bowl, the sex symbol (was/is?); Namath is one of the most iconic personalities to ever come out of sports. I also give the guy props for facing his demons in a very public way and still come out smiling. Hey, everybody makes mistakes, but only one guy’s led the J-E-T-S Jets!Jets!Jets! to a Super Bowl.
There’s this one time during the 1988 NFL season when I believed the Jets had a chance. The feeling only lasted the week as the 3-1-1 Jets got destroyed by the Bengals in Week 6. We’d go on to lose 5 of the next 7 and miss the playoffs. I wouldn’t have that good feeling again until the Jets acquired Curtis Martin in 1998. The Jets have employed only one Hall-of-Fame running back in their entire history and its Martin. An amazing career by a durable ‘back who was equally effective as a receiver out of the backfield. One of the two times the Jets got one over on the Patriots during the Tom Brady era was the Martin acquisition.
Al Toon was Jerry Rice but with a glass jaw. Don Maynard won a Super Bowl, is the Jets all-time leader in receptions and is in the Hall-of-fame, but Wayne Chrebet was the best receiver I’ve ever seen. He was Wes Welker but with better hands and fearlessness over the middle that was unmatched. Chrebet’s stats hold up too. He’s second all-time on the Jets with 580 receptions trailing only Don Maynard and in front of Al Toon. I went to Hofstra when Chrebet was a monster 1-AA standout. One time I saw him at a bar called Bogarts (Now called Chrebet’s). Chrebet was rocking a skintight black, “steal your girl” Armani sweater. He looked like he was dressed for a cold day in Miami Beach. He stood out on Hempstead Turnpike even then. Anyway, Chrebet is a legend of unmatched proportions. Bigger than Jeter.
Not too many stars to come out of the Tight End position for the Jets. I thought Kyle Brady would be something, but nope. I was a huge Johnny Mitchell believer too, but nope again. So its Mickey Shuler by default. He had 462 receptions for 5,100 yards and 37 touchdowns.
The Jets have been blessed with above average offensive line play. Kevin Mawae will be going to the hall, Marvin Powell went to 5 pro-bowls and was a 3-time all-pro, Nick Mangold went to 7-pro bowls and was a two-time all-pro, Winston Hill won a Super Bowl while protecting Joe Namath.
The Jets have had some pretty good linebackers. Larry Grantham, Marvin Jones, John Abraham and Dennis Byrd stand out to me the most. Larry Grantham is the best linebacker to ever wear a Jets uniform. He was voted to five All-Pro teams, seven Pro Bowl teams and was a member of the 1968 Super Bowl winning team. The guy is a legend.
Dennis Byrd has the most amazing story I’ve ever heard. After becoming paralyzed in a game against the Chiefs, he swore he would walk again, and he did! Years later, Byrd would be killed in a car crash.
Marvin Jones was the best Jets linebacker I ever saw. A top draft pick out of Florida State, he lived up to expectations. Steady, not extraordinary, he started every game he played from 1995 to 2003 and didn’t miss a game from 1997 – 2003. Durability like this is incredible for any position but truly legendary for a linebacker.
John Abraham is the best pass rusher the Jets have had not named Mark Gastineau. Abraham’s time with the Jets was short and he’ll be best known for the large contract he’d go on to sign and later underperform as a member of the Atlanta Falcons.
Mark Gastineau was the best to play his position. He’d still hold the all-time sack record if Brett Favre didn’t get cute and let Michael Strahan touch him to get the record. I’ll never forgive Favre for that. Gastineau was an icon. He dated Brigitte Nielsen at the height of her modeling career and stardom. Concussions ended Gastineau’s career, and he retired and took up boxing! Respect to the only#99 in my world.
Joe Klecko is widely considered the best defensive player to ever put on a Jets uniform. I disagree. Klecko was the beneficiary of all the Gastineau double teams. Still, he’s right place, right time and was the second most dominant force on the New York Sack Exchange. Shaun Ellis was a stud who anchored the Jets resurgent defense under Bill Parcells. Ellis played 11 years for the Jets and made the Pro-bowl twice.
Darrell Revis during the days of Revis Island was awesome. I remember thinking he can’t be that good, can he? Yup, he was. He’s in the conversation for best all-time at the position. Aaron Glenn was the recipient of the Dan Marino‘s fake spike. The play happened right in front of me. Don’t believe me? Look it up, Giants Stadium, section 324, follow your finger down to the corner of the end zone and there it is! I knew Marino had the ball the entire time. Worst play in Jets history.
No other Jets besides Kerry Rhodes and Erik McMillian made multiple pro-bowls from the safety position. For as good as some Jets defenses have been, they’ve been relatively weak at the safety position. The team once employed an over the hill Ronnie Lott.
Sometimes my Dad and I would sneak down to the lower level during blowouts. Pat Leahy once waved to me. Leahy gets the nod here.
In 1999 Tom Tupa was a third-string Quarterback for the Jets and made the Pro Bowl as a punter. That’s the most impressive thing a Jets punter has ever done.
If they still made All-Madden teams, Leon Washington would be under consideration for the punt returner. Washington would also be in the conversation for the most exciting offensive player in Jets history.
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