New York Jets: Where Are They Now? Super Bowl III Edition
As the New York Jets prepare to embark on their 2012 season, decades of disappointment have made Super Bowl III seem like a distant memory to anguished Jets fans.
However, for one group, the memories of Super Bowl III remain vivid as ever.
Members of the Jets 1968 team are mostly in their late 60s or early 70s now (or early 80s in Babe Parilli's case) but still share a remarkable bond.
The players who took the field that day in the Orange Bowl will always hold a special place with each other and in American sports culture, no matter where life has taken them over the past four decades.
Players like Joe Namath and Don Maynard have remained visible over the years, returning to Jets functions and attending multiple on-field ceremonies. However, many of the past heroes, who haven't had their numbers retired by the club, have been less present.
The team started a Ring of Honor to coincide with the opening of MetLife Stadium, and that has given players like Larry Grantham, Winston Hill and Gerry Philbin their rightful time in the spotlight.
But their stories aren't' common knowledge to Jets fans of a younger generation.
This slideshow takes a look at some of the heroes of the 1969 Super Bowl team and what they have been up to in the 43 years since the Jets shocked the world that Sunday back in 1969.
Winston Hill: LT
Joe Namath often says that he was so confident that the Jets would win Super Bowl III because they had a game plan the Colts couldn't match up against.
Much of that game plan involved Matt Snell and Emerson Boozer running to the left behind Winston Hill.
Despite the Jets having a passing offense that featured Namath, Don Maynard and George Sauer, head coach Weeb Ewbank knew the best way to beat the highly favored Colts was to control the ball in the running game.
The Jets ended up running the ball 43 times, much of the time behind Hill at left tackle.
Hill had established himself as a four-time AFL All-Star by the time Super Bowl III rolled around. He stood at 6'4", 270, which was beastly for that era.
Hill's glory didn't end after Super Bowl III, however.
He went on to play for the Jets until 1976 and started 174 games in a row from 1963-1975.
Today, Hill still operates a successful barbecue restaurant in Centennial, Colorado, called Winston Hill's Ribs & Stuff, which has been in existence for nearly two decades.
In 2010, Hill was part of the first class of inductees into the New York Jets Ring of Honor along with fellow Super Bowl III participants Namath, Maynard and Ewbank.
John Dockery: CB
Photo courtesy NJ.com
Four decades before Jeremy Lin erupted onto the New York sports scene as a lightly regarded player out of Harvard, John Dockery did the same thing.
Dockery graduated from Harvard after a stellar football career, but when the NFL and AFL drafts came around, he found no takers.
Dockery joined the Jets as an undrafted free agent and had little-to-no impact as a rookie on the Super Bowl team, appearing in just three regular-season games.
However, in 1969, Dockery played in 14 games and took major advantage of the opportunity Although he didn't start any of those 14 games, Dockery led the Jets with five interceptions.
That would be the highlight of his career as he played just two more seasons for the Jets. After that, he then played two more for the Steelers before he was out of the NFL by the age of 29.
After his playing career, Dockery went into broadcasting and became one of the top sportscasters on both NBC and CBS.
He worked in both radio and television and had a reputation for being one of the more eloquent and informed sideline reporters in the game. Dockery worked Notre Dame broadcasts and was also a sideline reporter for Monday Night Football from 1999-2007.
In addition to football, Dockery also worked as a reporter during the Olympics and the Tour de France.
Outside of broadcasting, Dockery is the director of the Joe Namath/John Dockery Football Camp, which is in its 41st year of operation.
Jim Turner: K
Jim Turner set a record during Super Bowl III that can never be broken—he kicked a nine-yard field goal.
Of course, the goal posts hadn't been moved back off the goal line yet, but it's still one of the quirks about Super Bowl III that will live on forever.
Nine-yard field goal aside, Turner was one of the heroes of the low-scoring game as he accounted for 10 points on his own—three more than the Colts had all game.
After Matt Snell's touchdown run in the second quarter, Turner kicked the extra point, and then, three consecutive field goals to give the Jets a 16-0 lead.
Turner played two more seasons for the Jets before moving to Denver as a member of the Broncos. He played nine seasons in Denver and is a member of the Denver Broncos Ring of Fame.
After his playing days, Turner worked as a color commentator for NBC Sports and hosted a sports talk radio show in Denver.
Turner currently works for Jeffco Public Schools in Colorado as a motivational speaker and mentor to student-athletes with a program called Jeffco Cares.
Turner hosts study halls for football players and encourages them to participate in community service projects as well.
Bill Baird: S
Photo courtesy of Pro Football Hall of Fame
Bill Baird played a key role in the superb defensive game plan devised by assistant coach Walt Michaels for Super Bowl III.
Michaels figured that if the Jets took away Hall of Fame tight end John Mackey, the Colts would have trouble on offense. Baird was assigned coverage duties on Mackey in a rotation with other safeties and linebackers and helped hold Mackey to just three catches for 35 yards.
Earl Morrall, Johnny Unitas and the Colts offense could never get on track without Mackey and with the rest of the Jets defense also playing at the top of their games, the Colts managed just one late touchdown.
After retiring from the game after the 1969 regular season, Baird started out teaching and coaching high school football.
In 1976, Baird became a baptized member of the Mormon Church, and since then, has been a missionary, bishop and high priest group leader with the LDS Church.
He's currently a temple worker in Fresno, California, and is a regular at Jets functions and Super Bowl III reunions.
Gerry Philbin: DE
Photo courtesy of www.thejetpress.com
There aren't enough accolades to go around for the effort put forth by the Jets during Super Bowl III, and one of the leaders of that unit was defensive end Gerry Philbin.
Philbin was slightly undersized as a defensive end, even for his era, but made up for that with a relentless ferocity. In today's parlance, he would be called a "high-motor" player.
Unofficially, Philbin had 64.5 sacks during his nine-year Jets career.
After he retired in 1974, Philbin stayed around Long Island where he worked in the construction business.
A native of Rhode Island, Philbin lived for a time in New Hampshire before retiring to Florida in 2011 with his son and grandchildren.
Philbin was a member of the 2011 class of the New York Jets Ring of Honor.
John Schmitt: C
Photo courtesy of CBS 2
John Schmitt's experience before, during and after Super Bowl III is more unique and incredible than any of his teammates, bar none.
Schmitt was a stalwart as the team's center for 10 years and was an unsung hero on the offensive line during Super Bowl III.
The thing about Schmitt, though, is that he almost missed Super Bowl III with pneumonia.
Despite suffering from dehydration and near exhaustion, Schmitt played the entire game, and according to stories, vomited in the locker room next to Joe Namath as he held court with reporters after coming through on his guarantee.
Schmitt's story doesn't end there though.
In 1971, he was taking surfing lessons while on a trip to Hawaii. When he got back to shore, he realized his Super Bowl ring was missing.
Despite searching frantically with a mask and snorkel for hours, Schmitt conceded that his ring was lost to the sea.
That is, until 40 years later when he received a call saying that a woman in Hawaii was in possession of his ring.
It turned out that his ring washed ashore and was recovered by a life guard, who then gave it to his wife. The couple died in 1990, and when their great niece was sorting through their possessions, she came across the ring.
After some authentication and research, they determined it to be Schmitt's, and four decades later, returned the ring to its original owner.
Aside from his Super Bowl ring caper, Schmitt has had a highly successful career in real estate and is the Director of Institutional Services for Intercontinental Real Estate Corporation—a company he has been with since 1973.
Randy Beverly: CB
Randy Beverly may have played just three seasons for the Jets, but his importance in the history of the club is unquestioned.
Beverly just might have been the biggest hero on a dominating defense in Super Bowl III.
An opportunistic cornerback, Beverly had 10 interceptions in his three years as a Jet, but his legacy is that he had two interceptions in Super Bowl III.
Even more impressively, both interceptions came in the end zone to quell scoring drives by the Colts.
Beverly's performance in Super Bowl III has allowed him to be held in high regard within the franchise and among fans. He's retired and still resides in New Jersey, less than an hour away from MetLife Stadium.
Beverly is still a frequent visitor to Jets functions and follows the current team very closely.
Larry Grantham: LB
Larry Grantham was literally a New York Jets original.
Grantham started with the Jets in 1960—the franchise's first year of existence when they were the New York Titans of the upstart AFL.
Grantham played with the Jets through their entire run in the AFL (one of only seven players to play with the same team for the entire existence of the AFL) and stayed with the club until he retired after the 1972 season.
By the time, Super Bowl III rolled around, Grantham was the veteran leader of the defense from his outside linebacker position.
After retirement, Grantham did not find life as easy as some of the other members of the 1969 team.
He was able to land a job for a season as the Jets radio color man, but the high-living lifestyle he enjoyed as a player carried over into his retirement.
Grantham battled alcoholism for 17 years before nearly killing himself in an automobile accident in 1986. Grantham entered rehab, hasn't drank since and has gone on to become a motivational speaker, sharing his story of recovery.
Grantham worked closely with the Freedom House—a recovery center in New Jersey that would play a key role in helping Grantham keep his Super Bowl III ring.
Grantham developed cancer within the past decade and has been battling through years of treatments and surgeries. Needless to say, the medical bills piled up higher than he could handle.
In 2009, Grantham felt the only way he could get himself out from under the bills was to auction his Super Bowl ring. However, Freedom House stepped in after the ring was put up for auction. They recovered the ring for Grantham and went on to raise money to help pay his medical bills.
Grantham was inducted into the Jets Ring of Honor in 2011 and said his lymphoma was in remission.
"I've had good days and bad days, but the good days seem to outnumber the bad days right now," he said, "so I'm getting healthier all the time."
Other Jets from Super Bowl III
Malcolm Emmons/US Presswire
Emerson Boozer RB: Currently resides in Long Island, New York. Inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2010.
George Sauer WR: Caught eight passes for 133 yards in Super Bowl III to lead all receivers. After football, became a novelist and worked as a textbook graphics specialist.
Bob Talamini LG: Was inducted into the Kentucky Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2011. Currently living in New Mexico with his wife Mary, who is an artist.
Matt Snell RB: Snell still holds a grudge against the organization for the way his career ended. Although he lives nearby in New York State, Snell refuses to participate in any team functions and turned down invitations to the 25- and 40-year anniversaries of the Super Bowl III team.
Paul Rochester DT: As of 2005, the starting defensive tackle in Super Bowl III was in the real estate business in Florida.
Dave Herman RT: Herman's work against Hall of Famer Bubba Smith was one of the great performances of Super Bowl III that sometimes goes unnoticed. Despite being six inches shorter than Smith, Herman kept him from harassing Joe Namath. Herman lives in New York and is still an avid Jets fan and works as a financial planner.
Ralph Baker LB: Along with Larry Grantham and Al Atkinson, Baker made up a solid linebacking trio for the Jets in Super Bowl III. Baker retired in 2010 from a career in education administration in Pennsylvania.