Sometimes the NFL has its lighter moments, and the New York Jets were involved in one epic and hilarious call
Dominant. Punishing. Funny?!
The “New York Sack Exchange” was one of the most feared defensive lines in NFL history. That’s generally how a position group gets its own name. Headlining the group was New York Jets soon-to-be Hall of Famer Joe Klecko, who was a Pro Bowler at three different defensive line positions. The other best-known member of the group was Mark Gastineau, who was on a Canton trajectory before he got in his own way.
Former Bengals and Jets quarterback Boomer Esiason recently described his offensive linemen’s fear when they had to face Klecko. However, Gastineau and Marty Lyons, as well as Abdul Salaam, could also inject terror into the hearts of opponents. The combination was lethal.
On October 5, 1986, the Sack Exchange’s punishing play style gave birth to one of the funniest referee moments in league history. It all started with some angry people—Lyons, Bills Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly, and referee Ben Dreith.
After Kelly threw a ball away, the camera panned back to him with a furious Lyons on top of him, punching him like all get-out. One only wonders what would happen in a situation like that today when quarterbacks are practically wound in bubble wrap.
Dreith, already an outspoken referee in terms of explaining himself (think Ed Hochuli), was infuriated by the to-do between quarterback and defensive lineman, which triggered a bigger scrum between the teams. He turned on his mic and delivered a laugh-out-loud call, complete with a visual demonstration.
"He's giving him the business down there."
— Jets X-Factor (@jetsxfactor) March 29, 2020
Lyons was No. 93, while Gastineau was No. 99. Given Gastineau’s reputation, it’s unsurprising that the ticked-off Dreith placed the blame on him. Lyons, meanwhile, is far more diplomatic—hence his position as the Jets’ radio color commentator.
I can watch that call over and over and still laugh each time. The way a furious Dreith gives the call is epic; it would not be complete without the level of anger from the referee. Others have tried to get cute and copy the call since, but without the body language and the punch, it’s just not the same.
Gastineau, Klecko, Lyons, and Salaam gave lots of quarterbacks “the business.” Finally, one of them is about to be recognized for his own achievements and keep alive the legacy of a historical group. Along with the Sack Exchange lore, “the business” lives on forever.
Follow Rivka Boord on Twitter @rivka_boord