The 25 Greatest Players in New York Jets' History

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The 25 Greatest Players in New York Jets' History
Al Bello/Getty Images
Mark Gastineau (left) and Wesley Walker during their 2012 induction into the Jets' Ring of Honor.

It's time to take a trip down memory lane and recall players responsible for the great moments in New York Jets' history. These players set team and NFL records, sometimes resulting in winning football, sometimes not. However, they managed to help us forget about life for three hours each Sunday and rejoice in their accomplishments.

Making a list like this is not objective. It's kind of like completing the invitations to the NCAA tournament. Some players, like Hall of Fame members and Ring of Honor residents, must be there.

However, their order within the list, like the tournament's seeding, is subject to debate.

The remainder of the list, the "at-large" portion, depends as much on the preparer's impressions as it does on statistics. Given enough time, one could sift through hours of video highlights to determine the fine points of distinction separating one player from another.

However, unless one evaluates pro football players on a full-time basis, one rarely has the luxury for such study. Instead, he or she must somewhat arbitrarily pick factors to use in ranking players.

In preparing this list, I placed the Jets' Hall of Fame players in the first group, followed by Ring of Honor members and "at large" players. To select "at large" players and to rank all selections, I considered the following criteria:

  • Longevity: I looked for players with extended service time. Five years was good, 10 years was better. On the other hand, if the NFL continues to maintain a tight salary cap, longevity will become less and less a factor in future lists as players move around in search of a better living. One must learn to change with the times.
  • Statistics: I looked at the record holders—the precedent setters. Who was the all-time tackler or sack leader? Who set the original standard only to be overtaken? This approach falls short, however, when considering offensive linemen, for whom official statistics are sparse, or defensive players before statistics like sacks and tackles became commonly available.
  • Diversity: I did not succeed completely here. I tried to include special teams players, perhaps to a fault. I probably shorted the secondary, maybe tight ends. Like I said, this process is not scientific.
  • Memory: I've been a fan for almost five decades. When I lived in the New York metropolitan area, following the team was easy. When I've lived out of market or been absorbed by other things, the team took a back seat. The result: Some players made a greater impression on me than others, not because of their ability but because of how important being a fan was to me at the time. That varying interest level cannot help but affect my "objectivity." It's also bound to lead to a lively discussion.

So without further delay, let's have a look.


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