New York is home to two teams that play in the National Football League (NFL) – the Jets and the Giants. The New York Jets play in the American Football Conference (AFC) and the Giants play in the National Football Conference (NFC). Although the Giants have called New York home longer, the Jets have an incredible fanbase in and around the metropolitan area. The team has one Super Bowl title to go with several appearances in the AFC Championship game. With many legendary athletes that have come through the organization, only a few deserve to be called the best Jets players of all time.
Before we jump into the list, let’s take a moment to appreciate the passion and dedication of sports fans. Of course, there are times when the passion of sports fans morphs into an entirely different realm. In fact, a recent study suggests that over half of sports fans are superstitious. A survey of 2,400 American sports fans found that 62 percent of fans have blamed themselves for their team’s loss. Furthermore, nearly 40 percent of those fans feel like a family member is bad luck and have even asked that person to leave on game days. That’s a great way to make Thanksgiving awkward this year.
Still, sports fans only want what’s best for their team, so if tossing Uncle Frank out of the house during Monday Night Football brings the Jets one step closer to a Super Bowl championship, then that’s what has to happen. However, it’s not just family members that trigger sports fans, friends are on the hook as well. Another recent study found that sports fans are willing to end friendships over sports. A survey of 2,000 American football fans found that a staggering 52 percent of respondents are willing to call it quits with a friend because that person cheers for a rival football team. Perhaps not watching football together would work best for preserving a friendship.
So, which athletes are considered the greatest in the New York franchise’s history? StudyFinds did the research, consulting 10 sports and football-related websites in an effort to bring you a consensus best Jets players of all time. Our list comprises the five most frequently listed athletes from across these sites. Think your favorite player was snubbed? Feel free to share your thoughts with us in the comments section below!
The List: Best Jets Players, According to Sports Experts
1. Joe Namath
Topping the list of the best players in New York Jets franchise history is none other than Joe Namath. He is by far the most beloved and respected player to ever suit up for the Jets. The stellar quarterback is best known for delivering on his Super Bowl guarantee when he led his Jets to victory over the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III.
“Of course, the greatest player in New York Jets history is Joe ‘Willie’ Namath. How could it not be? Is he a tad overrated in terms of all-time NFL greatness? Yes, he is. But don’t discount the importance he had on not only the overall health of a league – and the birth of America’s Game – but the revolution he took part in in terms of a ‘superstar living in society.’ He was the first bona fide celebrity athlete. ‘Broadway Joe’ isn’t just a part of Jets history, he is Jets history… Guaranteeing a Super Bowl III victory not only put the Jets on the map, but an entire league. Sometimes the aura surrounding the guy means so much more than just the stats,” raves Elite Sports NY.
Namath wore fur coats, and sunglasses, and hung around with New York’s elite group of celebrities, but none of that prevented him from delivering on his Super Bowl guarantee. However, Namath’s career was about more than just the guaranteed victory over the Colts. He was a sophisticated passer, and he’s easily one of the best quarterbacks of his generation.
“In 1965, Namath burst onto the scene and was a Pro Bowler in his rookie season. He went on to be named to four more Pro Bowls and was a First Team All-Pro member in 1968. Namath led the league in passing yards three times and touchdowns once. In 1967, Namath became the first quarterback in football history to throw for 4,000 yards in a season. Namath ended his career with 27,663 passing yards and 173 touchdowns. He was elected into the Hall of Fame in 1985 and is still considered one of the most entertaining figures to ever play the game,” explains Clutch Points.
Unfortunately, Namath didn’t finish his career with the Jets. Nonetheless, Joe “Willie” will always be remembered for helping bring the upstart American Football League (AFL), which eventually became the American Football Conference (AFC), to prominence in the NFL.
“Joe Namath is one of the greatest New York Jets ever. However, I’d go a step further and argue he’s far and away the most important individual player in Jets’ history. Namath was a first-round draft selection in both the AFL and NFL when he turned professional in 1965. This was a pre-NFL & AFL merger and so a bidding war commenced for Namath’s services, not only between two teams but between two professional leagues. He chose the Jets, the upstart AFL, and history suggests that the decision worked in Namath’s [favor],” adds The Sporting Blog.
2. Curtis Martin
Next up on the list of the best players in Jets franchise history is none other than legendary running back, Curtis Martin. He is one of the top running backs of all time in the NFL, and his career as a Jet was nothing short of astonishing.
🎉 HBD to #NYJetsLegend #HOF RB Curtis Martin, who turns the big 5-0 today! With the #Jets from ‘98-‘06, he amassed 12,741 TOT YDs, 63 TDs, resulting in 3x Pro Bowls, the NFL Rushing Leader in ‘04, and had his no. 28 jersey retired. A renaissance and iron man in every regard.… pic.twitter.com/OEsoDIizfT
— NYJetsStan (@jets_stan) May 1, 2023
“Curtis Martin joined the Jets in Bill Parcells’ second season as coach when New England failed to match the Jets’ restricted free agent offer sheet. He cost the Jets first-round and third-round draft picks, but his record-setting Jets’ career made that price worthwhile. Essentially, Martin continued the pattern he established in New England where, between rushing and receiving, he touched the ball nearly 24 times per game,” explains Bleacher Report.
Martin was just as deadly catching the ball out of the backfield as he was running with it. Still, it’s Martin’s consistency and reliability that made him one of the best all-around running backs in the NFL.
“Before his final year in the league, Martin had seven consecutive seasons of running for at least 1,000 yards and catching at least 40 passes with the Jets. In that same timeframe, the Pittsburgh native only missed one game. He’s currently the Jets all-time leading rusher and sits sixth all-time on the NFL’s career rushing list,” writes Rookie Road.
Martin helped lead the Jets to the playoffs several times during his time in New York, and he was certainly considered the workhorse for those late ‘90s Jets teams led by Bill Parcells. Martin is still the Jets all-time leading rusher and he’s sixth in NFL history with over 14,000 rushing yards for his career and more than 17,000 total yards from scrimmage.
“Curtis Martin had a hall-of-fame career with the Jets, he set franchise records for rushing yards and missed only one game in his first seven seasons with Gang Green. Injuries would derail his career near the end but no one could question the talent, the Jets with Martin went to 5 playoffs,” furthers BolaVIP.
3. Don Maynard
The third spot belongs to legendary wide receiver Don Maynard. Maynard was a Jets player before the team was known as the Jets. Maynard is an original Jet, and his legacy as one of the best wide receivers in franchise history isn’t overlooked.
A year ago today, we lost Don Maynard.
One of the greatest Jets ever.
RIP, 1️⃣3️⃣ pic.twitter.com/oJpcpZsJ5M
— New York Jets (@nyjets) January 10, 2023
“Joe Namath may have been the psychological force behind the Jets’ Super Bowl III win, but if any player symbolizes the Jets’ early struggles, their rise to league domination and their subsequent fall it has to be Don Maynard. He lived and played through the franchise’s first 13 years, establishing his mark not just on the team but on the NFL as well,” explains Bleacher Report.
The Jets were originally the New York Titans, and Maynard was around for the name change. Team names aside, Maynard was the premiere deep-threat wide receiver in the NFL during his time.
“After a season with the Giants, Maynard joined the New York Titans in 1960. He established himself as a deep threat that season, catching 72 passes for 1,265 yards and six touchdowns, an average of 17.6 yards per catch… His last three 1,000-yard seasons earned him AFL All-Star Game invitations in 1965, 1967, and 1968. Though he fell short of the 1,000-yard mark in 1969, his 938 receiving yards earned him his last All-Star Game invitation and designation as a first-team All-AFL wide receiver,” explains The Grueling Truth.
Maynard was putting up 1,000-yard receiving seasons during an era when it wasn’t as common as it is today. As one expert explains, Maynard’s list of accomplishments is rather impressive.
“First player to join the Titans, now the Jets, and played a key role in the franchise’s only Super Bowl. Pro Football Hall of Famer. Held pro record for total receptions and receiving yards. Franchise leader in receptions, receiving touchdowns and receiving yards. AFL All-Time Team. Jets Ring of Honor. No. 13 retired by Jets,” adds North Jersey.com
4. Joe Klecko
Busting his way into Jets franchise history is none other than Joe Klecko. He was a dominant defensive lineman who was known for clogging up run lanes and overpowering pass blockers on his way to sacking the opposing team’s quarterback.
#Jets Joe Klecko has already been given a confirmation call that he was finally going to get inducted into the Pro Football Hall.
Will be announced officially tonight! pic.twitter.com/6P27eSFBnm
— Ali Ashraf (@loyalnyjetfans) February 9, 2023
“Not only was Klecko the heart and soul of the Jets famed ‘Sack Exchange’ of the early 1980s, but he was as versatile as they come. The man played inside, outside, and wherever else the Jets needed him. Evidence of this very feat is that he earned three different Pro-Bowl invitations at three different positions (defensive end, defensive tackle and nose tackle). If it hadn’t been for A.J. Duhe and a suspiciously drenched field in Miami in 1982, Klecko’s Jets would’ve squared off against Joe Montana and the San Francisco 49ers in the Super Bowl,” argues Elite Sports NY.
The Sack Exchange is the name given to the vaunted Jets defensive line of the ‘80s and it’s a play on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). It certainly was a fun time to be a Jets fan, and Klecko played a big role in making the team competitive.
“The Jets got a sixth-round steal in 1977 when they landed Klecko. He is a member of the Sack Exchange and currently second on the all time sacks list in Jets’ history. Sacks did not become an official stat until 1982. Klecko turned in a career-high 7.5 in 1985 when he was named First Team All-Pro as a nose tackle. Klecko’s versatility was extremely unique. Klecko could play any position on the defensive line and he showed that throughout his career,” furthers Clutch Points.
Klecko had the rare ability to line up anywhere along the defensive line and still be effective. Klecko could line up at defensive tackle, nose tackle (right over the center), and defensive end, meaning he could beat NFL centers, guards, and tackles without a problem.
“He was a threat no matter where on the line he played. Klecko received four Pro Bowl invitations: one at defensive end, two at defensive tackle, and the last at nose tackle. In addition, he was named to two first-team All-NFL teams, one as a defensive end and one as a nose tackle,” adds The Grueling Truth.
5. Darrelle Revis
The one and only Darrelle Revis is arguably one of the best cornerbacks the NFL has ever seen, and for a time, Revis was the most dominant defensive player in the entire league.
“Forget Jets history, aside from one Deion Sanders this man is the single best cover corner the NFL has ever laid eyes on. Sure, Darrelle Revis didn’t play his entire career in New Jersey, but that doesn’t mean he’s not an all-time Jet… Drafted 14th overall in 2007 by Mike Tannenbaum, Revis is arguably the most talented player to ever play for the team. He’s first by a wide margin in team history with an absurd 106 pass deflections,” writes Elite Sports NY.
Revis was a lockdown NFL cornerback who would shut down the opposing team’s best wide receivers and make it look easy. Revis was a great cornerback during his college days, so it was only natural that the Jets would trade up to draft him.
“Very few cornerbacks have played to the standard Revis reached whilst playing for the Jets. The front office traded up in the 2007 NFL Draft to select Revis 14th overall in the first round. At notoriously one of the most difficult positions in the sport, Revis flourished immediately during his rookie season… Revis went on to display some of the best cornerback skills the sport has ever seen. Revis earned first-team All-Pro honours each season from 2009-2011, the premium positional award in the NFL,” explains The Sporting Blog.
Revis was easily the best corner in the NFL for several years, and his battles with receivers such as Randy Moss are absolutely legendary. However, Revis’s career didn’t really take a big turn until defensive specialist Rex Ryan took over the Jets. Ryan is the son of legendary Bears coach Buddy Ryan, and he really schemed up a defense that would allow Revis to flourish. Together, Revis and Ryan led the Jets to two straight AFC Championship game appearances.
You might also be interested in:
- The Sporting Blog
- Bleacher Report
- Elite Sports NY
- Stadium Talk
- The Grueling Truth
- Clutch Points
- North Jersey.com
- Rookie Road
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