The New York Jets/Titans’ first great player, Bill Mathis, has passed away at the age of 81. He was a member of the 1968 Super Bowl team.
Mathis, who was born in Rocky Mount, NC, was drafted in the eighth round of the 1960 NFL draft by the San Francisco 49ers, but opted to begin his professional career with the newly-formed New York Titans of the AFL.
In 1961, he earned first-team All-AFL honors by rushing for 846 yards and seven touchdowns on 202 carries (4.2 yards per carry, 14 games). The fullback followed that impressive outing up two years later with an AFL All-Star appearance in 1963.
Toughness was one of Mathis’s greatest qualities, and it was often displayed throughout his career. Despite losing his starting job in 1966, when Emerson Boozer joined the club, Mathis remained with the team as a glue guy, pitching in on offense when required.
It ultimately paid off. Mathis was a member of the Jets’ only Super Bowl championship team (1968). He is just one of four Titans to remain with the Jets through their Super Bowl triumph.
RIP Bill Mathis
HB-FB, New York Titans/#Jets 1960-69
• Super Bowl III Champion 🏆
• 2x AFL All-Star
• 1x First-Team All-AFL
• One of only 17 men to play in all 10 seasons of the AFL
• Ranks #6 all-time on Jets career touchdowns list pic.twitter.com/2DnoLTIxXI
— Kevin Gallagher (@KevG163) October 21, 2020
Unfortunately, one of several men to play the entirety of the AFL’s 10 years of existence suffered from Alzheimer’s and CTE. Mathis was sick for a long time, as it was publicly known what he faced on a daily basis.
In 2012, Mathis sued the NFL with a claim that the league had deceived players about head injuries.
Mathis tallied 3,589 yards and 37 touchdowns on a 3.4 yards per carry mark over 10 years with the organization. He also caught 149 balls for 1,775 yards and nine touchdowns.
Bill Mathis ranks ninth on the New York Jets’ all-time rushing list.