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NY Jets: Top 30 greatest all-time players

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

The NY Jets sure have brought fans across the globe many great memories thanks to some incredibly talented players.

Life has not always been kind to the NY Jets or their fans. Since the Jets’ last playoff appearance in 2010, the team has a mediocre 28-39 record. Even during the team’s good years, the franchise has frequently been plagued by its inability to find a franchise quarterback.

From Richard Todd to Mark Sanchez to Geno Smith, the team has had more than its fair share of debacles at the quarterback position. In spite of their struggles, the Jets are one of the oldest and most storied professional football teams in America. The team was founded in 1960 as the NY Titans in the original American Football League.

Throughout the organization’s long history, many great players have worn the Green and White. Based upon a variety of factors, including overall statistics, number of Pro Bowl appearances, and playoff successes, the following are the top 30 greatest players in Jets’ history in my opinion.

Next: 30. Marty Lyons

Oct 13, 2013; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets former players Joe Namath (left) and Marty Lyons (right) talk before the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

30. Marty Lyons (1979-1989), DE/DT/NT

A first round pick out of Alabama in 1979, Marty Lyons helped anchor the Jets’ defensive line for eleven years.

He was a member of the New York Sack Exchange, a dominant defensive line that also consisted of Joe Klecko, Mark Gastineau and Abdul Salaam. The powerhouse unit helped make the Jets relevant again, as the team reached the playoffs four times (1981, 1982, 1985, 1986) in the 1980’s. Prior to the arrival of the Sack Exchange, the Jets had reached the playoffs only twice.

Individually, Lyons produced 29 sacks, tenth most in Jets history. Considering sacks were not even an officially measured statistic for the first three years of Lyons’ career, that number is all the more impressive.

Next: 29. Chad Pennington

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

29. Chad Pennington (2000-2007), QB

Simply uttering the name “Chad Pennington” to a Jets fan brings up sad memories of what might have been.

Jets fans had high hopes when their team used a first round pick to select the promising Pennington out of Marshall. Initially, that faith was rewarded. Pennington was named the Jets’ starter in 2002, a season in which he went on to throw 22 touchdown passes and only 6 interceptions. He also led the league with an astounding 68.9 completion percentage.

Unfortunately, frequent injuries robbed Pennington of his potential and arm strength. Although he posted solid career numbers (102 TD, 64 INT, 66% completion percentage), Pennington only started 10+ games in a season four times during his short career.

Next: 28. Mickey Shuler

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

28. Mickey Shuler (1978-1989), TE

A third round pick out of Penn State, tight end Mickey Shuler served as a prominent piece of the Jets’ offense for over a decade.

As a Jet, Shuler was a two-time Pro Bowler. He also was a member of four different Jets playoff teams. In particular, Shuler played a substantial role in the success of the 1985 Jets, as he amassed a career high 879 receiving yards and 7 touchdowns.

Shuler is the all-time team leader in receptions and receiving yards for the tight end position. Perhaps even more impressive, he ranks in the top 10 of all Jets players in receptions (6th), receiving yards (7th) and receiving touchdowns (T-5th).

Next: 27. Randy Rasmussen

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

27. Randy Rasmussen (1967-1981), G

The story of how former Jets guard Randy Rasmussen entered the NFL is as odd as it is fascinating.

Rasmussen was drafted in the 12th round of the 1967 NFL Draft. Considering the fact that the modern draft consists of only seven rounds, one has to wonder if a modern NFL scout would have ever noticed him. Additionally, he was drafted out of the University of Nebraska at Kearney, a college that has produced only three NFL players in its history.

In spite of his underdog beginnings, Rasmussen thrived in the NFL. Although he never made a Pro Bowl roster, Rasmussen was a steady and consistent presence on the offensive line. He played for 15 seasons, including the 1968 Jets squad that won the Super Bowl. He also made almost 200 starts in those 15 years. Due to his longevity and reliability, Rasmussen has more than earned his spot among the top 30 greatest all-time Jets.

Next: 26. D'Brickashaw Ferguson

26. D’Brickashaw Ferguson (2006-Present), OT

Not many Jets fans were pleased when their team opted to use both of its 2006 first round draft picks on offensive lineman. Hindsight is always 20/20, as left tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson and center Nick Mangold continue to anchor the Jets’ offensive line to this day.

The Jets took on a particular risk in drafting Ferguson, as they used the fourth overall pick in the 2006 draft on him. Ferguson, by making three Pro Bowls and by consistently protecting his quarterback’s blind side, has more than earned the faith the franchise has placed in him.

Another reason Ferguson made this list? The veteran *knock on wood* never gets injured. Since he was drafted, the Jets have played 148 regular season games. Ferguson has started every single one of them.

Next: 25. Dave Herman

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

25. Dave Herman (1964-1973), G

Former Jets guard Dave Herman was a steady presence on the team’s offensive line for a decade.

The former Michigan State Spartan started over 100 games throughout his career, and was a two-time Pro Bowler.

During the first of his Pro Bowl seasons, 1968, Herman played a pivotal role in the Jets run to the Super Bowl. As the Jets neared the playoffs, rookie offensive tackle Sam Walton began to noticeably struggle. Jets coach Weeb Ewbank opted to bench Walton and to move Herman from guard to tackle for the AFL Championship and Super Bowl games.

Herman rose to the challenge. Joe Namath was protected from star defensive lineman Ike Lassiter (Raiders) and Bubba Smith (Colts) throughout the playoffs, and the Jets brought their only championship home to New York.

Next: 24. Shaun Ellis

24. Shaun Ellis (2000-2010), DE

Shaun “Big Katt” Ellis was drafted by the Jets in the first round of the 2000 draft. It did not take long for Ellis to live up to the faith the organization placed in him, as he notched 8.5 sacks his rookie year.

The defensive end would go on to make multiple Pro Bowls (2003, 2009). Ellis was also a model of consistency, posting at least five sacks in eight seasons and double digit sacks in two. Finally, although he never won a championship, Ellis was a member of six different Jets playoff teams.

Taken together, the defensive star ranks in the top ten of all-time Jets players in sacks (2nd) and tackles (8th). Couple those records with all the playoff success he enjoyed and Ellis has more than earned his place in Jets lore.

Next: 23. John Abraham

January 26, 2014; Honolulu, HI, USA; Team Sanders receiver DeSean Jackson of the Philadelphia Eagles (10) is defended by Team Rice linebacker John Abraham of the Arizona Cardinals (55) in the fourth quarter during the 2014 Pro Bowl at Aloha Stadium. Team Rice defeated Team Sanders 22-21. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

23. John Abraham (2000-2005), DE

John Abraham’s career as a Jet was relatively short lived (6 seasons). However, his run of pure dominance on the defensive line merits his consideration upon the list of greatest all-time Jets.

The first round pick out of South Carolina was a terror to opposing quarterbacks, posting eight seasons of double digit sacks (including three as a Jet). The future Hall of Famer went on to rack up over 130 sacks. As of this publication, only twelve other players in NFL history have reached that milestone.

Abraham did more than just post eye-opening stat lines; he also played a prominent role in the Jets success of the early 2000’s. During his six year stint in New York, the Jets posted four winning seasons (2000-2002, 2004), and made three playoff appearances (2001, 2002, 2004).

Next: 22. Ken O'Brien

22. Ken O’Brien (1984-1992), QB

The 1983 NFL Draft was a potential gold mine for the Jets. Out of the six quarterbacks selected in the first round, three went on to make the Hall of Fame.

Unfortunately, knowing the Jets, they weren’t fortunate enough to end up with one of those Hall of Fame quarterbacks. John Elway and Jim Kelly were both drafted before the Jets 24th overall pick, and the organization decided to pass on the opportunity to select Dan Marino.

Instead, the Jets selected quarterback Ken O’Brien out of UC Davis. Although he was never a contender for the Hall of Fame, O’Brien was a talented quarterback. He made two Pro Bowl appearances, and ranks second all-time in passing touchdowns (124) and passing yards (24,386) among Jets quarterbacks. The team also made three playoff appearances under his watch.

O’Brien was never a Marino, but at least Jets fans can take some solace knowing they found a decent consolation prize.

Next: 21. Aaron Glenn

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

21. Aaron Glenn (1994-2001), CB

Before the Jets drafted arguably the greatest cornerback in NFL history in Darrelle Revis, they found a player in the 1994 NFL Draft who was pretty good in his own right.

A first round draft pick out of Texas A&M, Aaron Glenn served as a starting cornerback for the Jets for eight seasons. He has the third most interceptions (24) of any player in Jets history and was elected to the Pro Bowl three times (twice as a Jet). During his second Pro Bowl season (1998), he posted a career high 6 interceptions en route to his team’s appearance in the AFC Championship game.

The versatile Glenn was also an effective special teams player. As a Jet, he amassed over 2,500 yards returning kicks. Overall, he ranks in the top ten of all Jets players in interceptions (3rd), tackles (10th), and kick return yardage (5th).

Next: 20. Gerry Philbin

20. Gerry Philbin (1964-1972), DE

The quarterback sack was not an officially measured statistic until 1982. That didn’t stop defensive end Gerry Philbin from punishing opposing quarterbacks throughout the 60’s.

Emerging from the frozen tundra of the University of Buffalo, Philbin played elite defense for the Jets for 110 games over 9 seasons. The two-time Pro Bowler played an especially prominent role in the 1968 Jets’ championship season, posting double digit “sacks.”

Although it was more difficult to assess a player based on numbers and statistics during the game’s early years, Philbin more than passed the eye test. Just read what defensive guru Rex Ryan had to say about Philbin in an article written by Randy Lange of NewYorkJets.com:

“He was so relentless, he never let up the entire game. If you weren’t at your best, he was going to beat you.”

For his tireless motor, his elite pass rushing ability, and his Super Bowl ring, Philbin ranks easily among the greatest all-time Jets.

Next: 19. Nick Mangold

Nov 2, 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; New York Jets guard Willie Colon (66) and center Nick Mangold (74) on the line of scrimmage during the second half against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs won 24-10. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

19. Nick Mangold (2006-Present), C

When he finally retires, Nick Mangold may be known not only as one of the greatest centers in Jets history, but also as one of the greatest offensive lineman in NFL history.

The 2006 1st round pick from Ohio State has already played over nine seasons for the Green and White. In that span, Mangold has been named to twice as many Pro Bowl rosters (six) as he has missed games (three).

Over the past decade, the Jets’ formula for success has frequently revolved around playing elite defense and running the ball. In particular, the Ground and Pound Jets of Rex Ryan thrived, making back to back AFC Championship games in 2009 and 2010. One could argue that, if not for the otherworldly play of Mangold, those teams may not have even made the playoffs.

The modern Jets may bounce from one mediocre quarterback to another, but at least they have had and continue to have elite offensive lineman (Ferguson, Mangold) to protect them.

Next: 18. Mo Lewis

18. Mo Lewis (1991-2003), LB

Mo Lewis was a warrior at the linebacker position for thirteen seasons.

A third round pick out of Georgia in 1991, Lewis turned out to be a steal for the Jets. The three-time Pro Bowler proved to be a durable veteran, playing in 200 games throughout his lengthy career. He was also aggressive and versatile, ranking in the top ten of all-time Jets players in sacks (4th), tackles (2nd), and fumble recoveries (T-6th).

Unfortunately for the Jets, Lewis also played an essential role in the recent string of Patriots championship runs. In a 2001 matchup between the Jets and Patriots, Lewis laid a devastating hit on Patriots quarterback Drew Bledsoe. Bledsoe left the game and was replaced with an obscure quarterback out of Michigan. Four championships later, and its fair to conclude that the Patriots and their fans are satisfied with the play of Tom Brady.

Next: 17. Marvin Powell

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

17. Marvin Powell (1977-1985), T

Following a Super Bowl title in 1968 and a playoff appearance in 1969, the Jets were largely irrelevant throughout the 70’s (53-91 with no playoff appearances).

The Jets were hopeful that a young star offensive lineman out of USC could be a catalyst for revival. The Jets made a significant investment in Powell, using the fourth overall pick in the 1977 draft on him.

Powell more than lived up to the hype, playing in more than 130 games and being named to five Pro Bowl rosters. His elite level of play helped elevate the team out of mediocrity, and the Jets made three playoff appearances while Powell was on the roster.

Next: 16. Wayne Chrebet

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

16. Wayne Chrebet (1995-2005), WR

The story of wide receiver Wayne Chrebet would captivate any sports fan.

Because he was small (5’10”) and attended an obscure college (Hofstra), NFL scouts had no difficulty overlooking Chrebet. He went undrafted and was never expected to even make an NFL roster.

Chrebet never received that memo. The diminutive star was a reliable wide receiving threat and fan favorite for over a decade. Although his career was tragically cut short by a concussion, Chrebet ranks in the top three in career receptions (2nd), receiving yards (3rd), and receiving touchdowns (3rd) among all-time Jets players.

Next: 15. Emerson Boozer

15. Emerson Boozer (1966-1975), RB

For a franchise that has seen more than its fair share of talented rushers, Emerson Boozer remains one of the first and greatest Jets running backs.

A College Football Hall of Famer and former Eastern Maryland Shore star, Boozer played in over 100 games over a prestigious decade long career. Boozer was named to two Pro Bowl rosters, and scored 52 rushing touchdowns. Throughout the entire 55 year history of the franchise, only the great Curtis Martin ran for more touchdowns.

Boozer did more than just accrue lofty statistics; he also played an essential role in the Jets’ upset win in Super Bowl III. Although he only rushed for 19 yards, his selfless style of play and fierce blocking enabled the Jets’ other skill position players (Joe Namath, Matt Snell and George Sauer) to rack up impressive numbers.

Next: 14. Al Toon

14. Al Toon (1985-1992), WR

Al Toon is unquestionably one of the greatest wide receivers in Jets history. If not for a slew of injuries (concussions) that forced him to retire at age 29, Toon could easily have gone down as the greatest Jets pass catcher ever.

A first round pick out of Wisconsin, Toon made the most out his eight NFL seasons. He made three Pro Bowls and posted multiple seasons of 900+ receiving yards (4) and 5+ receiving touchdowns (4).

Overall, Toon ranks in the top ten of all-time Jets players in receptions (3rd), receiving yards (4th) and receiving touchdowns (T-8th), and he helped guide the team to three playoff appearances.

Next: 13. Kevin Mawae

13. Kevin Mawae (1998-2005), C

Unlike the majority of the players on this list, center Kevin Mawae was not drafted by the Jets. The star offensive lineman from LSU was originally drafted by the Seahawks in 1994.

Fortunately for the Jets, the team was able to acquire Mawae in 1998. He stuck around for the next eight seasons, making an astounding six Pro Bowl teams in that span. Apart from one injury shortened season, Mawae never missed any games as a Jet.

With Mawae’s steady and veteran leadership on the offensive line, the team enjoyed a reign of prosperity. While he was on the roster, the Jets made the playoffs (4) twice as many times as they posted losing seasons (2).

Next: 12. George Sauer Jr.

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

12. George Sauer Jr. (1965-1970), WR

Pass catching threat George Sauer Jr. was a cornerstone behind the success of the 1960’s Jets.

Undrafted out of Texas, the underdog Sauer went on to have a brief but dominant career with Gang Green. Sauer developed a potent chemistry with Joe Namath, and quickly established himself as one of the team’s most reliable wide receivers. Over a span of six seasons, he posted three seasons of 1,000+ receiving yards and was named to four Pro Bowl rosters.

Sauer also had a knack for thriving when the lights were brightest. He helped guide the Jets to two playoff appearances, and he played a vital role in the team’s upset win in Super Bowl III. With Don Maynard hindered by injuries, Sauer became Namath’s safety blanket. He hauled in over half of Namath’s total passing yards (133 out of 206) en route to a 16-7 Jets win.

Next: 11. Matt Snell

11. Matt Snell (1964-1972), RB

The 1968 Jets largely relied on only three offensive skill players in their Super Bowl win over the Colts. Their formula was simple. Namath threw the ball, Sauer caught the ball and Matt Snell ran the ball.

The power back out of Ohio State pummeled the Colts’ defensive front, carrying the ball 30 times for 121 rushing yards and a touchdown. He also caught 4 passes for 40 yards. In doing so, Snell produced more yards of offense than any Colts player, including quarterback Johnny Unitas.

Snell was far from a one game wonder. The three-time Pro Bowler also ranks fourth among all-time Jets players in rushing attempts and rushing yards.

Next: 10. Wesley Walker

10. Wesley Walker (1977-1989), WR

Wesley Walker bears the distinction of being the greatest Jets wide receiver to never make the Hall of Fame.

A 1977 first round pick out of California, Walker enjoyed a long and productive career in the NFL. Although he was seldom spectacular (only two Pro Bowl appearances and two 1,000+ yard receiving seasons), Walker was the epitome of consistency. He played thirteen seasons and posted 10 seasons of 500+ receiving yards, all with the Jets.

Walker retired with an impressive 8,306 receiving yards and 71 receiving touchdowns. Among all-time Jets players, he ranks behind only one player (Hall of Famer Don Maynard) in those categories.

Next: 9. Freeman McNeil

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. Freeman McNeil (1981-1992), RB

The Jets, despite their aerodynamic name, have frequently relied on running the football in order to be successful.

Long before the days of Thomas Jones and LaDainian Tomlinson, Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell, the Jets had a different dynamic duo at running back. Throughout the 1980’s, Freeman McNeil and Johnny Hector were a potent 1-2 punch on the ground.

McNeil was particularly impressive. The former UCLA star was elected to three Pro Bowls and posted two seasons of 1,000+ rushing yards. A beacon of consistency, McNeil also assembled a streak of eight consecutive seasons (1981-1988) with at least 500 rushing yards.

McNeil’s legacy with the Jets is unquestioned, as he still ranks in the top five among all-time Jets players in career rushing yards (2nd) and career rushing touchdowns (4th).

Next: 8. Larry Grantham

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

8. Larry Grantham (1960-1972), LB

When one thinks about the Super Bowl champion Jets, a variety of offensive superstars come to mind. Joe Namath, Matt Snell, Don Maynard and George Sauer combined to form a potent offense that helped carry the team to the promised land.

On the defensive side of the ball, linebacker Larry Grantham was an unsung hero on those early Jets teams. Although many defensive stats were not measured throughout the 1960’s (ie. sacks), Grantham’s immense talent was readily recognized in his time. He was elected to five Pro Bowl rosters.

Even more impressively, Grantham was quite the ball hawk. He snagged 24 career interceptions, which ties him for third place among all-time Jets players.

Next: 7. Winston Hill

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

7. Winston Hill (1963-1976), T

Along with Nick Mangold, tackle Winston Hill was one of the greatest offensive lineman in Jets history.

Hill was the ultimate example of consistency and longevity, playing in almost 200 games over a 14 year career. He also made an astounding eight Pro Bowl teams. No other Jets player in team history has been elected to more than six Pro Bowls.

In addition to his many accolades, Hill was an essential piece of the Jets Super Bowl III victory. His powerful blocking protected Joe Namath and enabled running back Matt Snell to have a monster game (121 rushing yards and a touchdown).

Next: 6. Joe Klecko

6. Joe Klecko (1977-1987), DT/ DE/ NT

After winning a Super Bowl in 1968 and making the playoffs in 1969, the Jets were primarily hapless throughout the 1970’s (no playoff appearances). The arrival of the New York Sack Exchange, a dominant defensive line unit that consisted of Marty Lyons, Joe Klecko, Mark Gastineau and Abdul Salaam, helped change that.

Although he was often overshadowed by the sack master Gastineau, Klecko was a dominant force on the Jets’ defensive line. He amassed 24 sacks, which ranks him in top 15 of all-time Jets players. Considering that Klecko played five seasons before sacks were a measured statistic, this achievement is all the more impressive.

Klecko was also a versatile piece for the Jets’ defense, playing a variety of defensive line positions throughout his career. He made the Pro Bowl for three different positions, the only player in the history of the league to accomplish that feat.

Next: 5. Mark Gastineau

5. Mark Gastineau (1979-1988), DE

Defensive end Mark Gastineau was one of the most prolific defensive players in Jets history.

The leader of the famed New York Sack Exchange, Gastineau wreaked havoc on opposing quarterbacks. A five-time Pro Bowler, he is the Jets’ all-time leader for most career sacks (74) and most single season sacks (22).

With Gastineau leading the defense, the Jets became a competitive team again in the 1980’s. After failing to reach the playoffs for the past decade, the Jets reached the post season in 1981, 1982, 1985, and 1986.

Next: 4. Darrelle Revis

Sep 13, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis (24) returns a fumble recovery during the second half at MetLife Stadium. The Jets defeated the Browns 31-10. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

4. Darrelle Revis (2007-2012, 2015-Present), CB

The story of elite defensive back Darrelle Revis is a complicated one for Jets fans.

At first, Revis on the Jets was a match made in heaven. The superstar, drafted in the first round of the 2007 draft, flourished in New York. His ability to match up with receivers in one on one matchups was particularly useful when Rex Ryan came to the Jets. Between the coaches’ aggressive blitz packages and Revis’ sterling play in the secondary, the Jets made back to back AFC Championship games in 2009 and 2010.

Then, as quickly as it began, the marriage between Revis and the Jets began to crumble. A 2012 season ending knee injury and a subsequent contract dispute resulted in Revis being traded to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. As if losing Revis wasn’t bad enough, Jets fans later had to endure Revis defecting to and winning a championship with the New England Patriots.

And yet money can fix almost any problem. The Jets, under new general manager Mike Maccagnan, brought Revis back to New York with a massive 5 year/$70 million contract. The Jets and their fans hope that the six-time Pro Bowler can cement his legacy in New York with a Super Bowl title.

Next: 3. Curtis Martin

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

3. Curtis Martin (1998-2005), RB

For a Jets team that has frequently been bested by their division rival Patriots in recent years, the story of Curtis Martin is a rare bright spot.

The Patriots selected the star running back out of Pittsburgh in 1995. Martin was an instant success in New England, rushing for 1,487 yards and 14 touchdowns his rookie season.

The Jets, with the help of their coach Bill Parcells and a large free agent contract, eventually managed to lure Martin away from the Patriots. Martin turned out to be the greatest player acquisition in team history, as he posted an incredible seven seasons of 1,000+ rushing yards in New York.

Martin’s legacy extends far beyond the teams he played for. He has the fourth most career rushing yards of any player in NFL history, and he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2012.

Next: 2. Don Maynard

2. Don Maynard (1960-1972), WR

Ironically enough, the Jets’ all-time greatest wide receiver was also one of the first players to ever play for the franchise.

Originally drafted by the Giants in 1958, Don Maynard joined the New York Jets (then known as the Titans) upon the team’s founding. He went on to enjoy a thirteen year career with the team. Throughout that span, he made four Pro Bowls and posted five seasons of 1,000+ receiving yards.

Without Maynard, the fledgling Jets’ 1968 run to a Super Bowl championship most likely would have been cut short. Although he was unable to play in the Super Bowl, Maynard’s monster performance in the AFL Championship game against the Raiders (118 receiving yards, 2 touchdowns) helped set the stage for the Jets’ eventual upset of the Colts.

Next: 1. Joe Namath

Feb 2, 2014; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; NFL former player Phil Simms (left) talks with former quarterback Joe Namath prior to Super Bowl XLVIII between the Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

1. Joe Namath (1965-1976), QB

Jets fans won’t be surprised to see quarterback Joe Namath ranked first on this list. For those not familiar with the Jets or NFL history, however, here’s a brief recap of the Hall of Fame career of Broadway Joe.

The Jets used the first overall pick in the 1965 AFL Draft on Namath. Unlike most of the high picks the franchise used on quarterbacks throughout its history, Namath was a huge success in New York.

Although he had a tendency to turn the ball over (career 173-220 touchdown pass to interception ratio), Namath had the fearlessness and the swagger to thrive in the biggest moments. As the team prepared to play in the Super Bowl against the highly favored Colts, Namath publicly guaranteed victory. A solid performance in the game by Namath (17/28 passing for 206 yards) helped guide the team to its first and only championship.

From a general perspective, Namath’s big win helped the fledgling AFL gain respect and legitimacy. Jets fans are undoubtedly just ecstatic that, at least for a few years in the franchise’s history, their team had a legitimate quarterback and a championship title.

Next: NY Jets: Selecting the greatest all-time defensive line

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