New York Jets: Where Are They Now? 1980's Edition

Rocco Constantino@@br_jets_reportContributor IJuly 6, 2012

New York Jets: Where Are They Now? 1980's Edition

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    Since the New York Jets moved into MetLife Stadium, the franchise has been doing a good job connecting with its past it it seeks to establish its own identity in the stadium shared with the New York Giants.

    The most notable addition to the Jets' community has been the establishment of the Jets Ring of Honor and the induction of ten former Jets to the ring.

    One great thing about the current regime is that the team always does a good job of bringing back stars from the past.

    Even Mark Gastineau has made appearances at games after years of a frosty relationship with the club and its fans.

    However, what ever became of the players who haven't been around as much?

    Hundreds of Jets passed through the team's roster throughout the franchise's existence and this slideshow catches up with some of the players who populated the roster in the 1980s.

    The list includes 15 players, from Pro Bowlers straight on down to obscure special teams talents.  

Pat Leahy (Jets Years: 1974-1991)

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    Pat Leahy's Jets' career spanned from Joe Namath to Browning Nagle and ended with him atop the Jets' all-time scoring list, a spot he still holds 21 years after his retirement.

    Leahy came to the Jets after a prolific soccer career at the University of St. Louis in which he was a part of three NCAA National Championship teams.  

    Leahy retired as a lifetime Jet in 1991 after 18 seasons of reliable kicking and returned home to his native St. Louis to raise his family.

    Upon returning to St. Louis with his wife and three children, Leahy became a business partner in a successful, upscale hair salon for men called "The Hair Saloon."  

    According to a 2011 interview by Donna Janoff Augustnyiak, Leahy also works for a merchandising group that covers multiple Home Depot stores in the St. Louis area.

    Leahy still follows the Jets participated in the Jets' ceremony to close Giants Stadium in 2009.

    Don't be surprised if the Jets bring back Leahy soon for a ceremony at MetLife Stadium to be inducted into the Jets Ring of Honor.

Bruce Harper (Jets Years: 1977-1984)

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    Bruce Harper was a popular running back and return man with a slight frame and NCAA Division II background.  

    Although Harper was undersized and not expected to have any kind of impact as an undrafted free agent, he quickly became a fan favorite as he contributed in many ways to the Jets teams from 1977-1984.

    Harper was named as the return specialist on the Jets' Four Decade Team and was always known as a class act during his career.

    In fact, it should come as a surprise to nobody that Harper has dedicate much of his post-NFL life to charity work and giving back to the community.

    Harper originally went into the real estate business, but it wasn't long before he turned his attention to community service.

    In 1998, Harper co-founded "Heroes and Cool Kids," a mentoring organization that uses professional athletes to help train high school students to become mentors to middle school kids as they come up through the educational system.

    Harper's organization has a large presence in Bergen County, New Jersey, where he was a high school football star at Dwight Morrow High School in Englewood.  Heroes and Cool Kids was named the Bergen County Program of the Year in 2010.

    Harper also makes frequent appearances at charity golf events, including John Stark's charity golf outing and the Duke Classic, held in Belleville, New Jersey.

    According to an article by Jim Baumbach in Newsday, Harper still follows the Jets very closely and even travels on the road to attend some games, namely their 2010 playoff upset of the San Diego Chargers.

    Harper still resides in Bergen County, just a few miles away from the stadium where he beat the odds and had a successful eight-year run as a New York Jet. 

Nuu Faaola (Jets Years: 1986-1989)

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    Nuu Faaola didn't have any kind of long-term success in the NFL, but fans remember him for his dynamic special teams play and, well, his cool-sounding Samoan name.  

    Faaola was drafted in the ninth round of the 1986 NFL draft and played in 42 games over four seasons as a Jet.

    In 1987 he had a career-high 14 carries and scored two touchdowns, but was returned to the special teams full-time in 1988.  In 1988 he was second on the team with 30 special teams tackles.

    A native of Hawaii, Faaola relocated to Washington state and currently is a high school football coach for Redmond High School in Washington.

    Faaola is also a personal trainer at the Redmond Athletic Club where he runs a training program called "Get Smart, Get Fit, the Nuu Me."

    In 2012 Faaola was part of a class-action lawsuit against the NFL for negligence in dealing with concussions and other injuries during his playing career.

Darrol Ray (Jets Years: 1980-1984)

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    Before Darrol Ray's short, yet productive career with the Jets, he was a superstar on some of Barry Switzer's best teams at the University of Oklahoma.

    Ray played safety and punter for Oklahoma and was selected by the Jets in the second round of the 1980 NFL Draft.

    Ray only played five seasons in the NFL, all with the Jets, and managed 21 interceptions during his time in green and white.  Ray also recovered five fumbles and scored five touchdowns between 1980-1984.

    He is best remembered for returning an interception 98 yards for a touchdown in a 1982 playoff game against the Bengals.  At the time, it was the longest interception return for a touchdown in NFL playoff history.

    After his Jets career was done, Ray returned to Oklahoma where he entered the restaurant business.

    In 2009 Ray opened Ray's Smokehouse BBQ in Norman, Oklahoma, just miles away from where he starred for the Sooners 30 years before.

    In an article on oudaily.com by Alex Lynn, Ray said his restaurant's motto is that he makes "ribs so tender, you don't need teeth."

Lance Mehl (Jets Years: 1980-1987)

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    Like the Giants, the Jets had a linebacking corps led by No. 56 throughout much of the 1980s.

    Lance Mehl might not have been anywhere near as ferocious as Lawrence Taylor, but he was nearly as beloved by Jets fans as Taylor was by Giants fans.

    Mehl was drafted in the third round of the NFL Draft in 1980 after a stellar career at Penn State.  He played 97 games for the Jets from 1980-1987 and was the leader at linebacker behind the New York Sack Exchange.

    After his Jets career, he returned to his native Ohio where he has worked as a juvenile probation officer at Belmont County Juvenile Court since 1996.  

    He also spent time as the linebackers and secondary coach for the Ohio Valley Greyhounds professional indoor football team until the franchise folded in 2007.

    Recently, Mehl made news when he was called as a character witness to testify on behalf of his old coach Jerry Sandusky.  He was one of 19 witnesses called by the defense to try to paint the convicted child molester in a positive light.

Bob Crable (Jets Years: 1982-1987)

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    When the Jets drafted Bob Crable No. 23 overall in the 1982 draft, it was expected that the highly-regarded Notre Dame linebacker would become another piece in what was shaping up to be one of the best young defenses in the NFL.

    Although injuries prevented him from reaching the heights expected for him, Crable was a solid player when he was able to stay on the field during a Jets career that spanned from 1982-1987.

    After leaving the Jets, Crable entered the business world and also spent time as a high school teacher and head football coach at Archbishop Moeller High School in Ohio.

    Currently, Crable is the President of The Crable Investment Group, a company that acquires and manages properties in housing communities.

    Crable is also the President of the Crable Foundation, a group that provides scholarship opportunities for student-athletes wishing to attend Catholic high school.

Scott Mersereau (1987-1994)

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    One of the darkest moments in Jets history came on November 29, 1992 when Dennis Byrd suffered a paralyzing injury in a home game against the Kansas City Chiefs.

    What is often lost in the tragic moment is the fact that the player he collided with, Scott Mersereau, suffered a severe back injury on the play as well.

    Mersereau was a solid defensive lineman for the Jets from 1987-1993 who picked up 19 sacks and three interceptions during his seven-year career, spent mostly as a defensive tackle.

    Mersereau is another former Jet who has stayed in the game of football as a coach.

    He has been coaching football since 2000 and since 2009 has been the defensive line coach at Boca Raton High School in Florida.

    He is also a financial advisor for Prime Capital Services, Inc in Florida.

Guy Bingham (1980-1988)

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    For nearly a decade, Guy Bingham served a crucial, yet under-appreciated role for the New York Jets as the team's long snapper.

    Bingham was drafted in the 10th round of the 1980 NFL Draft out of the University of Montana and quickly made a niche for himself as a long snapper.

    It was a position that enabled him to play in the NFL from 1980-1993.

    After his playing days were over, Bingham partnered with his agent in Valley Vending, a business that stocks vending machines over a great area in Montana.

    He also operates Montana Coffee Express, a company that provides coffee service for businesses.

Additional Jets from the 1980s

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    Joe Fields (1975-1987): Resides in Southern New Jersey where he works as the Director of Contractor Services for EP Henry Hardscapers, a company that specializes in outdoor patio and stonework.

    Pat Ryan (1978-1990): Spent time as a radio broadcaster for the Tennessee Titans.  Works in home construction, a venture he started while still in the midst of his career as a Jets backup quarterback.

    Johnny Lam Jones (1980-1984): Was recently honored on the 25th anniversary of his accomplishments at the Texas State 3A Track & Field Championships by the University of Texas.  Is battling stage-four bone marrow cancer and has worked with various cancer awareness fundraisers.

    Rocky Klever (1983-1987): Spent time as an assistant football coach at Carroll College in Montana.  Also was an owner of a Gold's Gym in New Jersey, where he also was in the liquor store and bar business.

    Lester Lyles (1985-1987): After leaving the NFL, worked as a teacher, coach and in the Residence Life Department at Arizona State University.  Left athletics and education to try his hand in the business world where he is a Marketing Director at Mutual Investments Group in Arizona.

    Rich Miano (1985-1989): Currently an assistant football coach for the University of Hawaii where his official title is "Associate Head Coach."

    Joe Prokop (1988-1990): Works as a personal coach and trainer for aspiring NFL punters.  Is also a representative for LifeWave Training and a motivational speaker in Southern California.