In this series, we’ll be highlighting a different player from the New York Jets’ storied past. Today, we take a look at linebacker Kyle Clifton.
Who knew a third-round pick out of TCU in the 1984 NFL draft would eventually become the all-time leading tackler for one of the league’s most historic franchises?
Clifton became a cornerstone for the Jets defense for more than a decade, spending his entire 13-year pro career in the Gang Green and racking up 1,486 tackles. That’s 462 more stops than Mo Lewis, who is No. 2 on the Jets’ all-time tackle list.
His 15 fumble recoveries rank second among all defenders in Jets history, trailing only James Hasty (18), while his 13 forced fumbles are tied with Shaun Ellis for fourth-most in franchise history.
Despite leading the NFL in tackles in three separate seasons, Clifton never earned a Pro Bowl berth or a single All-Pro honor. But while Clifton never got his due on the national level, Jets fans are well aware of the significant impact he had throughout his career.
Few players can claim to be as true of a Jet as Clifton was, appearing in 204 games for the team. Only two players in franchise history, kicker Pay Leahy and guard Randy Rasmussen, have played more games in franchise history.
Clifton was a tackling machine who was an indelible presence on Sundays for more than a decade, making him a fan-favorite long beyond the end of his playing days.