For today’s edition of “Where Are They Now?”, we look back at a name that not everyone will recognize. This guy was with the Jets in the late 70s, and into the early 80s, but he did not play for the team. This gentlemen served as an assistant coach on many different levels, serving as a defensive coordinator under Walt Michaels. We are talking about the late Joe Gardi.
After beginning his coaching career at the University of Maryland, Joe Gardi broke into the professional ranks of coaches with the short-lived World Football League in 1974. He served in several different roles with the Philadelphia Bell that season, including interim head coach. He coached the Portland Thunder in 1975 for three games before the WFL disbanded.
Gardi joined the Jets in 1976 as a special teams and tight ends coach. He moved from the tight ends to the linebackers in 1977 and stayed there, along with the special teams, until 1980. He made his mark on the team in 1981 when he was promoted to the defensive coordinator position, where the “New York Sack Exchange” were under his charge, and they led the league with 66 sacks.
After the 1982 season, where the Jets went to the AFC title game before losing to the Dolphins, Walt Michaels was relieved of his duties as head coach, replaced by Joe Walton. Joe Gardi was retained as well, and was named assistant head coach to Walton. After 1985, Joe Gardi moved to the league office, working as a supervisor of officials.
Unfortunately, Joe Gardi passed away in 2010 following complications from a stroke. Before that, he joined Hofstra University as the head coach in 1990, where he remained until his 2005 retirement. In addition to posting several great records and titles, Gardi played a strong role in the development of future NFL starts such as Wayne Chrebet, Marques Colston, and Willie Colon.
Former defensive coordinator, leader of the sack exchange, the late Joe Gardi.