NY Jets: Top 10 players of all-time

By Paul Newbold
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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

The NY Jets have had some incredible athletes come and go and while it was hard, here are my top 10 players of all-time.

The Jets have a long storied history dating back to the AFL and NFL merger before the 1970 season. The announcement this week that the organization will be inducting Emerson Boozer and Matt Snell into the Jets’ Ring of Honor got me thinking about the best of the best.

Today I’d like to take a brief look at my personal opinion on the top 10 players in team history. This is my list, open to argument as every list of this type is, and it is in no particular order. Enjoy!

Next: 10. He did guarantee it

Jan 31, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; New York Jets former quarterback Joe Namath on the red carpet prior to the NFL Honors award ceremony at Symphony Hall. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

10. Joe Namath

Joe Namath is without a doubt a legend in the history of the Jets, and no list would be complete without him. Known affectionately in New York as “Broadway Joe” or Joe “Willie” Namath, he was not only the quarterback for the Jets, he was an icon around the NFL.

Namath played his college ball for the University of Alabama under coach Bear Bryant before joining the Jets. Namath joined the Jets in 1965 and played 12 years before departing in 1976. Namath still holds the Jets’ passing yards record with 27,507 yards and touchdowns with 170. Namath will always be remembered by Jet fans as the player that delivered on his Super Bowl promise when he won Super Bowl III.

Next: 9. A wide receiver of legend

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

9. Don Maynard

Don Maynard is my second choice for the list. The great wide receiver played his college ball first at Rice University for a year before transferring to what is known today as the University of Texas at El Paso. Maynard was the first player ever to sign with the then New York Titans in 1960, making him the “Original Jet.”

Maynard had a long and illustrious career with the Jets playing from 1960 until 1972. An exciting player to watch every time he got near the ball, Maynard is the all-time leader in receptions with 627 catches, and receiving yardage with 11,732 yards. He also holds the record for most consecutive 100 yard games with four, and the most 100 yard games in a career with fifty. A true Jet, he was inducted into the Hall of fame in 1987.

Next: 8. This running back rushed with purpose

Oct 3, 2015; London, United Kingdom; New York Jets former running back Curtis Martin speaks to the crowd during the 2015 NFL International Series Fan Rally at Trafalgar Square. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

8. Curtis Martin

Curtis Martin is my third choice for obvious reasons. Martin ran with violence and burst through holes in defensive lines with a vengeance. Martin played college football for the University of Pittsburgh before being drafted in the third round by the New England Patriots. Much to the excitement of Jet fans, he signed with the team in 1998 as a free agent.

Martin played for the Jets until 2005 when a knee injury ended his run in the NFL at ten years. Martin holds the all-time Jets record for most rushing yards with 10,310 yards and most rush attempts with 2,560. He leads all Jet running backs in touchdowns as well, with 58. In his ten year career, Martin became the fourth leading rusher in NFL history and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2012.

Next: 7. The athlete with his own island

Oct 2, 2015; Sunbury-on-Thames, United Kingdom; New York Jets quarterback Darrelle Revis (24) at press conference after practice at the Hazelwood in advance of the NFL International Series game against the Miami Dolphins. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

7. Darrelle Revis

Darrelle Revis is a phenom in the defensive back field. Revis was drafted by the Jets in the first round of the 2007 NFL Draft and quickly made a name for himself.  Revis was traded to Tampa Bay for two first round picks before the start of the 2013 season.

Playing one season with the Buccaneers, Revis then landed as we all know with the New England Patriots for their Super Bowl run last year. Returning to the Jets this season, Revis continues to play on “Revis Island.” Arguably the best shut down cornerback in the league today as he continues to make his case for a trip to Canton when his career is done.

Next: 6. The leader of the New York Sack Exchange

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

6. Mark Gastineau

Mark Gastineau is one of the all-time greats to play for the Jets. Gastineau played his college ball first at Eastern Arizona junior college before transferring to Arizona State University. Gastineau burst onto the NFL scene when he was drafted by the Jets in the second round of the 1979 NFL Draft. Gastineau was the leader for the legendary “New York Sack Exchange” of the 1980’s.

Gastineau is the Jets all-time sack leader with 107.5 and is tied with John Abraham for most sacks in a game with 4. Playing alongside Joe Klecko, Marty Lyons and Abdul Salaam, Gastineau put fear in opposing quarterback’s hearts. A five-time Pro Bowler, Gastineau played for the Jets from 1979 until 1988 when he retired from football. In 1984, he amazed fans across the NFL by posting 22 sacks on the season, setting the Jets’ single season sack total and sealing his legendary status with Jet fans all across the globe.

Next: 5. He played everything on the defensive line

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

5. Joe Klecko

If you include Gastineau on the list, then you undoubtedly want to include Joe Klecko. Klecko was a force along the defensive line. In 1981, he led the league with 20.5 sacks and set the mark for the second most sacks in a season for the Jets’ record book. Klecko played with controlled violence as he exploded off the snap and dominated offensive linemen.

Klecko was a four-time selection to the Pro Bowl for the Jets and was named NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 1981. Klecko stands second all-time in sacks with 77.5 to his credit.  There has been some talk among Jet fans about the possibility of a trip to Canton for Klecko, but to date that hasn’t happened yet.

Next: 4. One of the best to ever play center

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

4. Kevin Mawae

Kevin Mawae makes my list easily, though many might question including a center in a list like this, but for my nickel, he belongs. Mawae played center like few have ever played the position, he anchored the Jets’ offensive line from 1998 to 2005. He was originally a second-round pick of the Seattle Seahawks in 1994 after playing at Louisiana State University.

Mawae was selected to eight Pro Bowls through his NFL career with an amazing mark of being selected in six consecutive years. That’s dominating your position!

Next: 3. The athlete that left his mark on the Jets

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

3. Freeman McNeil

Freeman McNeil needs no introduction among Jet fans. McNeil was drafted in the first round, third overall in the 1981 draft by the Jets. He’s second all-time in rushing yards (8, 074 yards) and second in rushing attempts (1,798) for the Jets. McNeil was a fan favorite from 1981 to 1992, as he led a potent Jets’ rushing attack.

McNeil rushed for 38 touchdowns as a Jet and finished his career with a 4.5/carry average, the highest average for any running back on the Jets. McNeil broke the 1,000 yard mark twice in his Jet career, once in 1984 and again in 1984. McNeil won the NFL rushing title in 1982 and finished up his NFL career in 1992 after being selected to the Pro Bowl three times.

Next: 2. He always came through in the clutch

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

2. Wesley Walker

Wesley Walker makes my list as he’s the Jets’ second all-time yardage receiver. Walker played his college ball at the University of California where he earned All American honors. Walker was selected by the Jets in the second round of the 1977 NFL Draft and quickly became a favorite among Jet fans.

He played for the Jets from 1977 until 1989, posting 438 receptions, 8,306 yards and 71 touchdowns. Walker topped the 100 yard mark 22 times in his career, good enough for second all-time among Jet receivers. He was a brilliant receiver and his mark of 19.0 yards per catch leads all Jet receivers to this very day.

Next: 1. Truly one of the greatest gunslingers

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

1. Ken O’Brien

Ken O’Brien rounds out to me as the greatest Jet of all-time. O’Brien was taken by the Jets in the famous “Class of 1983” in the first round. O’Brien played 9 seasons for the Jets from 1983 to 1992, appearing in 124 games. He’s second to only Namath in passing yards (24,386), attempts (3,465) and touchdowns (124).

He also leads all Jet quarterbacks in completions with 2,039 finishing ahead of the legendary Namath. In 1984, O’Brien finished the season as the NFL’s top rated passer, finishing the year with a 96.2 paser rating.

Making this list was much harder then I thought when I first approached the topic. Going back through the years, there have been so many great players to don the Green and White. It was a trip down memory lane as I struggled with whom to include. Memories of such greats as Emerson Boozer, George Sauer, Marty Lyons and Winston Hill certainly came to mind. Mickey Shuler, Al ToonKyle Clifton and well, you get the picture as a list like this with the Jets could be endless.

Those are my ten, now I’d like to hear from you! Have a comment on someone on the list? Who’s the player you think I snubbed? Do you have your own list? We here at The Jet Press value your opinions. We invite you to join us in the discussion by leaving us a comment below. As always, Let’s Talk Some Jet Football!!

Next: NY Jets News: Cromartie bashes Odell Beckham Jr.

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