Recently the folks at ESPN New York compiled a list of the 50 Greatest New York Jets since the team will have been known as the Jets for 50 years starting in 2012. Our writers, who are all passionate Jets fans, will comment on the list based upon who they have been able to see play, who they know from historical record, and those whom they believe may have been left out.
For those who may not remember, or be old enough to have seen its beginnings, the New York Jets started in the American Football League in 1960 as the Titans of New York. The colors, navy blue and gold, and logo were a bit of a play on "Giants" since the Giants had been an established franchise in New York since 1925. The Titans played in the then dilapidated Polo Grounds, but after Harry Wismer sold the team to a syndicate headed by Sonny Werblin in 1963, they were renamed the Jets, and one season later moved in to Shea Stadium along side the Mets. The Jets would play there for 20 seasons, then join the Giants at the original Meadowlands, and now the new Meadowlands, recently renamed MetLife Stadium.
Our writers will look at the list in several ways, which include who should be ranked higher, and lower, who should not have made the list, and who was left off the list entirely. The original article can be found at ESPNNewYork.com. The entire list is below our commentary.
Peter Schifani: Since I can say that I've seen at least two thirds of this list play for the Jets in my 30 plus years of watching them season after season I would say the list is fair in who are the 50 Greatest Jets overall, but I do have issue with where many are ranked.
I know I may be criticized for this, but I do believe current Jets, like Darrelle Revis, Nick Mangold and D'Brickashaw Ferguson should not be in the top 15 since their playing careers are still ongoing, and who knows how much longer each will wind up playing for the Jets (even though we want them all to finish their careers in Green and White.) Also I would flip-flop Abraham and Ellis, considering that Ellis played for the Jets twice as long as Abraham, even though his numbers may not be as outstanding, his leadership is being missed this season, both on and off the field. Of all the members of the New York "Sack Exchange" of Gastineau, Klecko, Lyons and Salaam, most hardly remember Abdul Salaam since he only played for the Jets for seven seasons, ending in 1983, after being traded to the Chargers, whom he never played for. His contributions were only short lived, and he should have been left off the list.
Now I would also like to mention a few players that I believe may have been "snubbed" from the list, but were solid contributors nonetheless: Pat Leahy (kicker), who is still the Jets all-time leading scorer, as he kicked from 1974 through 1991. Dennis Byrd (defensive end) is someone who should have been included despite his career being shortened due to his neck injury, he was on his way to helping build a new sack exchange in New York.
Chris Tripodi: This is a good list and I don't have too many issues with where most of these players are ranked. But in comparing players, I think there are a few flaws.
I'm not sure how you can put Vinny Testaverde over Chad Pennington. The Jets made the playoffs three times with Pennington in the four seasons he started, while they made it twice with Testaverde in his three seasons under center. Both had one outstanding season (Testaverde's 1998, Pennington's 2002) and missed seasons due to injury. While Testaverde did make an appearance in the 1998 AFC Championship Game, the only reason Pennington didn't in 2004 was because Doug Brien missed not one but two game-winning field-goal attempts against the Steelers, who were 15-1 during the regular season. The two deserve to be close and this is definitely nitpicking, but Pennington deserves to be higher than Testaverde.
You can tell the list is solid when both sets of players I'm comparing are right next to each other, but I'll make the argument that Nick Mangold should be higher than D'Brickashaw Ferguson because of his importance to the Jets' offensive line. Generally left tackles are regarded as more important than centers because they protect the quarterback's blind side but Mangold proved irreplaceable when he was injured this season. You can say that was because the Jets lacked a competent backup if you want, but the entire Jets' line fell apart without its captain and re-stabilized immediately upon his return. Ferguson is great, but he's more easily replaceable. If you want to look stats instead, Mangold has three Pro Bowl appearance while Ferguson has just two. In those two seasons, Mangold was voted to the All-Pro team as the NFL's best center. This is an argument between two star players but I'm willing to venture a guess that if this list is remade in 10 years Mangold will be above Ferguson and, provided they both stay in a Jets uniform, they should each jump into the top 20 or even the top 15. Kevin Mawae was an All-Pro for eight seasons with the Jets, but Mangold should jump him if he stays on the team.
Donald Lappe: I think the list is solid overall, but I'm going to focus on guys that I think should be ranked a bit higher. I'll start with Emerson Boozer, just based on what he did in the most important win in the history of the franchise. While Namath was the face of the Super Bowl III win for the Jets, Matt Snell and Boozer were the ones who really carried the Jets offense. Boozer became a huge part of the Jets offense as a blocking back after a knee injury robbed him of his speed, with the Jets using him in ways not previously seen in the NFL. On the Snell touchdown run in Super Bowl III, it's Boozer and Winston Hill that lead the way with crushing blocks.
I also think Chad Pennington should be ranked higher. Jets fans often focus on what players don't do, and that seems to be especially true with Pennington – no arm strength, no mobility, etc. Every season he was healthy, he got the Jets to the playoffs. He had the autonomy to audible to any play at the line of scrimmage, something we only hope Mark Sanchez can eventually grow to do. He consistently won with a lesser supporting cast than what we see today on the Jets offense, and with a defense that can't hold a candle to the current Jets defense. He did more with less, both in his own play and in what the team accomplished with him at the helm.
|1||Joe Namath||26||Nick Mangold|
|2||Don Maynard||27||Bill Mathis|
|3||Curtis Martin||28||Laveranues Coles|
|4||Darrelle Revis||29||Kyle Clifton|
|5||Joe Klecko||30||Marvin Jones|
|6||Larry Grantham||31||Rich Caster|
|7||Freeman McNeil||32||John Riggins|
|8||Winston Hill||33||Shaun Ellis|
|9||Mark Gastineau||34||Vinny Testaverde|
|10||Wesley Walker||35||Chad Pennington|
|11||Matt Snell||36||Marvin Washington|
|12||Al Toon||37||George Sauer|
|13||Mo Lewis||38||Al Atkinson|
|14||Wayne Chrebet||39||Dave Herman|
|15||Emerson Boozer||40||Abdul Salaam|
|16||Kevin Mawae||41||Ralph Baker|
|17||Gerry Philbin||42||James Hasty|
|18||Marvin Powell||43||Jumbo Elliott|
|19||Aaron Glenn||44||Bill Baird|
|20||Marty Lyons||45||Keyshawn Johnson|
|21||John Abraham||46||Jim Sweeney|
|22||Mickey Shuler||47||Greg Buttle|
|23||Randy Rasmussen||48||Victor Green|
|24||Ken O'Brien||49||Joe Fields|
|25||D'Brickashaw Ferguson||50||Lance Mehl|
As you can tell we all do have differing opinions on this list of the 50 Greatest New York Jets, so we welcome you the fans to respond and comment on this list as well. We want to hear your opinions on the rankings, and share with us who you would compile in your own top 50.
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