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New York Jets: Top 5 punters of all-time

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
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
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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 New York Jets have had many punters come and go but only these top five stood out from the pack when considered for the all-time best at the position.

The punter position is one that is quite often overlooked but with football being such a yardage game, a good one can help change a game entirely. The Jets have had many punters come through the door in the many years they have existed and had some fantastic ones during that time. This is a tribute to some of the most unsung heroes of the Jets that delivered with their punts.

Related Story: Top 5 kickers of all-time for the Jets

One side note before we begin, in order to qualify as a punter on this list, you had to have played at least three seasons with the Jets. Make no mistake about it, these top punters helped the Jets tremendously with their contributions in field positioning against opposing teams.

Without further ado, hope you enjoy the top five punters of all-time for the Jets.

Next: 5. Steve Weatherford

Aug 9, 2014; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants punter Steve Weatherford (5) on the sideline during the second quarter against the Pittsburgh Steelers at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

5. Steve Weatherford

Weatherford is probably most known to the general public as the ripped punter of the New York Giants but he also did well in his tenure with the Jets. Playing two years with Gang Green during their NFL Playoff runs of 09-10, he was an important part of special teams at the time.

Coming in 2009 after being signed in the offseason, he had 80 punts for 3,357 yards at an average of 42.6 yards a punt. Which included a Week 3 effort of 360+ yards with a longest of 59. Started all 16 games that season but was ruled out of AFC Wildcard Game after suffering from an irregular heartbeat.

In 2010, Weatherford set a franchise record for having 42 punts inside the 20-yard line and also had a solid overall season where he passed 3,000 yards in a year for the first time. Again, he started all 16 games and was even used on a fake punt and rushed for 17 yards picking up the first down.

He briefly returned to the Jets last season when Ryan Quigley injured himself and had a good showing of four punts for 130 yards with his overall career stats of 678 career punts for a 44.5 yard average with his best punt being 71 yards.

Next: 4. Steve O'Neal

Jan 3, 2016; Orchard Park, NY, USA; A general view of a New York Jets helmet and an NFL football during the game between the Buffalo Bills and the New York Jets at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

4. Steve O’Neal

The only drafted Jets’ punter to ever take a long snap, Steve O’Neal is the man with the longest ever punt in pro football history with a 98-yard bomb in 1969. It’s a record that still stands to this very day. After coming out of Texas A&M, he was the starting punter of the Jets for three years in the NFL and was the first ever NFL punter when the AFL and NFL merged in 1970.

In his first season with the Jets, O’Neal had 54 punts for 2,393 yards which was an average of 44.3, a career best in terms of average. This was good for fourth in the whole AFL for punting average and was the best among rookies.

His next two seasons were solid as he was the first Jet to pass the 3,000+ punting yards milestone in only his third year. Both these seasons he finished in the top half of the NFL in total yards but with him struggling in 1971 with consistency, he only had a average of 38.9 yards per punt.

O’Neal retired from the league after only six seasons after tearing a cartilage in his kicking leg which unfortunately ended his career. He then became a dentist after his football career, running his own practice in Texas and still does to this very day.

Next: 3. Ben Graham

Jan 3, 2016; Orchard Park, NY, USA; A general view of a New York Jets helmet and an NFL football during the game between the Buffalo Bills and the New York Jets at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 3, 2016; Orchard Park, NY, USA; A general view of a New York Jets helmet and an NFL football during the game between the Buffalo Bills and the New York Jets at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

Jan 3, 2016; Orchard Park, NY, USA; A general view of a New York Jets helmet and an NFL football during the game between the Buffalo Bills and the New York Jets at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

3. Ben Graham

Ben Graham is truly a great story for anyone wanting to have a career change and chasing a dream. After playing 219 games in the Australian Football League (AFL) for Geelong Cats, he packed up his family and headed over to the United States after getting an opportunity with New York in 2005.

Ben’s first game in the NFL came in Week 1 of 2005 when he was 31-years-old at the time and became the NFL’s oldest ever rookie. He showed all his kicking experience in his debut having an exceptional first year with Gang Green. He totaled 3,233 punt yards and averaged 43.9 yards per punt which put him in the top 10 of the NFL in terms of total yards and also top 10 in all-time rookie yards.

In 2006, Graham became the first ever Australian born player to captain a professional football team becoming the Special Teams captain and performed very well with this honor, averaging 44.2 yards per punt. He also finished top 10 in the league in total yards again with 3,812. Graham also hit his career longest punt, a massive 69-yarder against the Cleveland Browns, which was a career long for him.

The 2007 season was a below par season on his own admission, but it came as a massive shock to everyone when during the next preseason in 2008, he was cut then signed back again, then cut again and ended up playing with the Arizona Cardinals in the Super Bowl in 2008. In doing so, he became the first Aussie to ever play in the big game. After his career was over, Ben relocated his family back to Melbourne where he now works for the Western Bulldogs in the AFL in a player development role.

Please click here to read an exclusive interview for The Jet Press with Graham.

Next: 2. Tom Tupa

Jan 3, 2016; Orchard Park, NY, USA; A general view of a New York Jets helmet and an NFL football during the game between the Buffalo Bills and the New York Jets at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

2. Tom Tupa

Tom Tupa became the only the second punter in franchise history to get a Pro Bowl selection and was a huge achievement for being a third-round draft pick (No. 68) in 1998 out of Ohio State. He would end up playing for seven teams in his career which included tenures with the Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, Browns, New England Patriots, Jets, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Washington Redskins.

He arrived at the Jets in 1999 after being released in the offseason by New England and immediately made an impact having his best season and arguably the best ever year by a Jets punter. He finished the year with a Pro Bowl trip, totaling 3,959 total yards with an average of 45.2 per punt.

Tupa played two more seasons with the Jets with him again showing his skills and massive leg having 150 total punts in 00-01. It combined for 6,289 yards with an average of 41.9 yards a punt. With Tupa playing quarterback at college as well as at Phoenix, his skills were used in play fakes with him completing 7 of his 12 passes with the Jets, the most by a punter in franchise history.

He retired in 2005 after a fantastic career where on top of his Pro Bowl and All-Pro selections, he won a Super Bowl with the Buccaneers in 2003 and was named the Patriots all-time best punter of the 90’s.

Next: 1. Curley Johnson

Jan 3, 2016; Orchard Park, NY, USA; A general view of a New York Jets helmet and an NFL football during the game between the Buffalo Bills and the New York Jets at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

1. Curley Johnson

By far the best punter in franchise history is easily Curley Johnson. The one-time Pro-Bowler still holds the all-time mark with 22,718 punting yards, posting a respectable 42.5-yard average on a career spanning from 1960-1968 with the Jets. Was also the punter for the Super bowl III winning Jets, making him the only punter to win a championship ring.

After playing his college ball at the University of Houston, he was drafted in 1960 by the Dallas Cowboys and played one season before coming to New York. The two seasons he played with the Titans, he punted for 4,819 yards with an average of 41.5, which was one of the best in the AFL.

When the Titans became the Jets, Curley was the first ever punter under their new name when he started Week 1 of 1963. In the first three seasons with the Jets, he was again building a reputation of being a great punter around the league, having 200 punts in that time and totaled 8,293 punting yards at 41.3 yards per punt.

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Overall when it mattered most, he delivered and will go down in the history of the Jets of being the greatest punter to ever play the position.

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