New York Jets’ Emerson Boozer Is A Class Act


Dec 14, 2014; Nashville, TN, USA; New York Jets logo prior to the game against the Tennessee Titans at LP Field. Mandatory Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

News surrounding the New York Jets is slow, the general manager and head coach are in place. Maccagnan has put together his front office, and Bowles has put together his coaching staff. The next significant date for fans is March tenth when Free Agency begins. Fans can rest assured that the Jets organization is hard at work behind closed doors on free agency, and preparing for the upcoming draft.

Since the news is slow, I thought we could do a “Throwback Thursday”, and go back in the annals of history to take a look at my all time favorite Jets player from my youth, Emerson Boozer. Many Jet fans have questioned my choice of Boozer as my favorite player over the years. He doesn’t have the flashy numbers or productivity of other Jet backs over the years. Some claim I’m simply being nostalgic when it comes to Boozer; while that may be true to some extent, that’s not my reason.

Emerson Boozer was and is a class act on and off the field. I’d like to take a look at his career and a little bit of what he’s been up to since retiring from football. It’s just my opinion, but the modern-day NFL could use a lot more players like him today. Let’s take a look at Emerson Boozer.

Next: Jets Career

Feb 2, 2014; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets former quarterback Joe Namath before Super Bowl XLVIII between the Seattle Seahawks and the Denver Broncos at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Now I realize many of you younger fans never saw Emerson Boozer play the game, but I think almost all of you have heard the name of Emerson Boozer. Boozer was the halfback for the New York Jets in Super Bowl III for those that don’t know the name.

Boozer was taken in the sixth round of the AFL Draft in 1966 by the New York Jets. Interesting note here, while there was little interest concerning the Boozer in the NFL draft, he was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the seventh round of the NFL draft. For those that may not know the history, our Jets and the AFL were the upstarts challenging the NFL at the time. Boozer passed up the NFL and joined the Jets.

Boozer played his high school ball at Lucy Lane High School in Augusta Georgia. Not highly recruited by college scouts, Boozer landed in small school Maryland State University, where he played his college ball.

Joining the Jets in 1966, he played in his rookie season, and almost immediately, legendary head coach Weeb Ewbank knew he had found something special. The Jets finished second in their division that year. In his rookie campaign, Boozer rushed 97 times for 455 yards. Boozer also played a part in the passing game, making eight catches for 133 yards. Boozer could do it all and Weeb Ewbank used him to return kicks in his rookie season. Boozer returned 26 kickoff for 659 yds and his only TD as a kick returner.

His highlight year, so to speak, came in 1967 when he put up 10 rushing TD’s to go along with three receiving TD’s in just eight games. Unfortunately for the Jets, Boozer suffered a terrible knee injury against the Kansas City Chiefs that altered and almost ended his career. Despite only playing in eight games, he led the AFL in rushing.

Knee injuries in the 1960’s were a serious affair; none of the modern techniques were available to repair the damage, and they ended many careers during the era. Boozer set himself to rehabbing the knee on his own, and returned to the game in 1968. Weeb Ewbank at the time was quoted as saying “I’m amazed he’s ready, I credit his work ethic, nobody works harder than Emerson Boozer”.

Boozer was a different player after the injury. His breakaway speed was gone. Boozer worker hard to change his game. His primary role became blocking for Matt Snell in the running game, and a bit later as a goal line rusher. Boozer’s goal line ability was highlighted in 1972. That year he again broke the double-digit TD mark, rushing for 11 TD’s, and giving rise to the Shea Stadium chant of “Give It To Boozer”.

Boozer played his entire ten year career for the New York Jets. He changed his game after his knee injury. Once compared to Gayle Sayers (honestly), Boozer turned himself into a devastating blocker. I tried to find a clip of Boozer picking up blitzes for Joe Namath for this piece, but sadly failed. Boozer was one of the best blocking backs I’ve ever seen! Boozer not only picked up blitzes, he blew guys up! He blocked with violence, and more than once LB’s found themselves on their butts wondering what hit them!

Boozer’s career ended in 1975 when he retired from football. In his illustrious career with the Jets he played in 118 games, rushed for 5,135 yards, and added another 1, 488 yards in the passing game. He returned kicks only in his first two years for a total of 872 yards on 37 returns and one touchdown.  He scored 79 TD’s in his career, and retired as the Jets leading rusher of all time.

Next: After Football

Jan 12, 1969; Miami, FL, USA; FILE PHOTO; New York Jets quarterback Joe Namath (12) celebrates as he leaves the field following the defeat of the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III at the Orange Bowl. The Jets defeated the Colts 16-7 to become the first AFL team to win the Super Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Darryl Norenberg-US PRESSWIRE

After retirement, Boozer moved onto the broadcast booth for a short period of time, working for CBS Sports. After leaving football he owned a machine shop and bar/restaurant business on Long Island. Eight years ago he retired with his wife of 46 years, to their home on Long Island.

Boozer’s accolades include being voted into the Georgia Sports Hall Of Fame, the Suffolk County Sports Hall of Fame, and the College Football Hall of Fame. He is also a member of the Pigskin Club of Washington D.C.

Boozer remains active in retirement. He still is connected to the Jets organization, though in no official capacity. His passion in retirement has become working with “troubled kids” on Long Island. He’s a mentor for kids, and with his work ethic, likely is a darn good one. Boozer at 71, can still be found on the golf courses around the metro area as well.

Next: The Class Act

Feb 1, 2014; New York, NY, USA; New York Jets former quarterback Joe Namath walks the red carpet prior to the NFL Honors at Radio City Music Hall. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

When thinking about Emerson Boozer, I can’t but help to think of the phrase class act. In my research, I couldn’t find one suspension by the NFL or AFL. His arrest record is non-existent. He was a selfless player on the field. He played hard in every game, and played his role to the fullest on every snap.

Off the field, he’s been the ultimate professional. He always made time for Jet fans after games, more often than not stopping at the player’s exits to sign autographs before departing. Never in trouble, and he always could muster up a smile and a handshake for a fan.

The first time I met Emerson Boozer I was a young fan. My father owned season tickets at Shea Stadium. After the games, my father would take me to the player’s exit in hopes to get an autograph. Older fans will remember and can vouch for me here,  back then the players were much more friendly to fans. One day I brought a football to the game, my father had me on his shoulders so I could holler to the players. Emerson Boozer walked over to the barricade and lifted me off my father’s shoulders! he proceeded to set me down, shake my hand, and sign my football!

I still own that football today, along with a Polaroid picture (ask your parents) my father took of Boozer and myself. I have many autographs from those days, but that day will stand out forever. Imagine that happening today!

More from The Jet Press

I’ll wrap it up with this. Emerson Boozer is not in the New York Jets Ring of Honor. I find this hard to believe and have been lobbying for his induction since 2010 when the Jets inaugurated the ring. I know every player can’t possibly included, but it’s my opinion that leaving Boozer out has been a major snafu by the Jets organization! Woody Johnson and the Jets need to consider adding him.

He played with integrity, he left the Jets as their all time leading rusher, and he helped lead our team to its only championship. In modern terms he “Played Like A Jet”!! In my eyes the Jets could do with more class acts like Emerson Boozer!

OK folks, thanks for putting up with me as I reminisce back on one of the all time great Jet players. Now its time for comments. Let’s talk Jets football!

Next: NFL Two Round Mock Draft