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New York Jets Mount Rushmore: Not as obvious as you think

Joe Namath, Curtis Martin, NY Jets, NFL
Joe Namath, Curtis Martin, New York Jets, Getty Images

Who are the New York Jets’ four most iconic players?

The history of the New York Jets is not nearly as star-studded as other franchises’. The Pro Football Hall of Fame website lists 20 Jets Hall of Famers, but few of them played for New York in the prime of their careers. In that sense, ranking the top players in Jets history should be simple.

However, when you’re talking about the Mount Rushmore of a franchise, you’re talking about players who truly represented the franchise for a long period of time. NFL Network recently went through the Mount Rushmore for each NFL team. Without checking their selections for the Jets, here’s who I would pick for the team’s fearsome foursome.

QB Joe Namath

This one is pretty obvious. Joe Namath, Broadway Joe, the Jets’ lone Hall of Fame quarterback, was the first passer ever to throw for 4,000 yards. His career statistics are hard to understand compared to the NFL of today. However, from 1965-77, Namath ranked third in passing yards (27,663) and fourth in passing touchdowns (173) despite missing 42 games due to injury. When Namath retired, he ranked first all-time in passing yards per game (197.6).

And, of course, Namath led the Jets to their lone Super Bowl championship. He guaranteed it, and it happened. That makes him a legend, no matter how much his deal with the devil may have caused the Jets’ suffering ever since.

WR Don Maynard

If Namath was the class of quarterbacks in his era, his battery mate at receiver was just as important.

Don Maynard is still the Jets’ all-time leader in receptions (11,732) and receiving touchdowns (88). In the Jets’ championship season, Maynard posted a whopping 22.8 yards per reception and 99.8 yards per game. In his career, he averaged at least 17.0 yards per reception in 11 seasons (min. 11 games played). Maynard’s Jets record for receiving yards (1,434) was broken by Brandon Marshall in 2015, and his 14-touchdown record still stands (along with Marshall and Art Powell).

RB Curtis Martin

Curtis Martin already had three consecutive 1,000-yard seasons by the time he joined the Jets. He posted another seven in a row with the Jets from 1998-2004.

Martin’s arrival buoyed the Jets to the AFC Championship Game. In Martin’s finest season, 2004, he led the NFL with 1,697 rushing yards at the age of 31. Martin also averaged 44 catches for 303 yards per season out of the backfield, meaning that he was a decent dual-threat back in an era where that was not required from running backs. Martin posted 11 or more Approximate Value (a measurement of player value adjusted for era) in 10 straight seasons.

CB Darrelle Revis

I had a very hard time figuring out who to put here. Darrelle Revis’ 2009 season was perhaps the greatest by a cornerback in NFL history just in terms of the receivers he blanketed one-on-one. He faced an incredible 111 targets and still dominated. In the next few seasons, teams stopped throwing his way. Still, Revis’ reign of dominance with the Jets truly lasted only three seasons from 2009-11. It’s hard to call him a face of the franchise in that sense.

Still, who else is there to put here? Joe Klecko, maybe, considering that he’s a Hall of Famer and the only player ever to make the Pro Bowl at three different positions (4-3 defensive end, 4-3 defensive tackle, and 3-4 nose tackle). Klecko had 20.5 sacks in 1981 and struck fear into the hearts of opponents. Still, Klecko waited so many years to make the Hall of Fame compared to Revis, who was a no-doubter.

I considered putting Mark Gastineau here, as he had a reign of dominance somewhat similar to Revis’. Consider that from 1981-84, he posted three seasons with at least 19 sacks, including his record-setting 1984 season when he recorded 22 sacks, which stood for 17 years. Gastineau made three first-team All-Pros and one second-team in those seasons, finishing third in the Defensive Player of the Year voting twice.

Once again, though, Gastineau’s reign of excellence was short, although perhaps it was longer than Revis’—he had 11.5 sacks in 1980 and 13.5 in 1985. Gastineau also didn’t go to the Hall of Fame after off-field issues derailed his career. Still, Gastineau posted 107.5 sacks in 10 seasons, averaging 10.8 sacks per year. Had he posted a little more longevity and not had outside issues, he would be in Canton.

Wesley Walker is another option. Walker is second to Maynard in Jets career receiving yards (8,306) and receiving touchdowns (71). What’s amazing about Walker’s accomplishments is that he was blind in one eye. He averaged 19.0 yards per reception in his entire career. However, injuries derailed Walker’s career to an extent, as he played in all the games of the season only six times in 13 seasons.

Jets fans, who is on your Jets Mt. Rushmore?

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mlesko73
mlesko73
3 days ago

The “73” in my moniker is a Klecko thing so….
I agree with Jets71’s reasoning.

Jets71
Jets71
4 days ago

I would put Klecko over Revis by a hair. It’s tough but as you pointed out the 3 different positions and I do believe Klecko was the definition of a “game wrecker.” Revis was as good as it gets for a handful of years for sure but I lean Klecko.

Bird9
4 days ago

Not saying that he’s on the Mount, but it’s sad that Gastineau doesn’t get his due. Almost certainly one of top 10 pass rushers in history.

Jets71
Jets71
4 days ago
Reply to  Bird9

Gastineau was straight beast but I think he gets dinged a bit because he wasn’t great defending the run, and of course he wasn’t well liked because of the dance. He was dominant though, however I think Klecko was the better all around player.

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