The New York Jets are one of the founding members of the AFL in 1959 and were then known as the Titans of New York. As the first AFL team to beat an NFL team in a Super Bowl, the Jets are a big reason for the eventual merger between the AFL and NFL which occurred in 1970, 2 years after the Jets victory in Super Bowl III.
Although successes have been few and far between for the Jets, they have had many successful players through their history. Here are some of the top NFL bobbleheads from the New York Jets.
Joe Namath – Quarterback 1965 – 1977
Quite possibly the most famous Jet, Namath famously guaranteed a victory in Super Bowl III. Given that the AFL was a relatively new league and had lost the first 2 Super Bowls a combined 68 – 24, this was not taken seriously by many. Namath and the Jets defense proved them wrong, however, beating the Baltimore Colts 16-7 and making the NFL take the AFL seriously.
In addition to being named Super Bowl MVP in that game, Namath was also a 3-time passing yards leader and won the AFL MVP Award in 1968 and 1969. He did not miss a single game because of injury in his first 5 years in the league. Unfortunately, after 1970, that streak was broken, as he only played in 28 of a possible 58 games from 1970 – 1973.
In 1974, Namath was able to stay healthy, and had a couple of good years, winning the NFL Comeback Player of the Year in 1974 and throwing for over 2,000 yards for the next 2 years.
Joe Klecko – Defensive Lineman 1977 – 1988
Klecko was drafted by the Jets in the 6th round of the 1977 NFL draft, and although personally had 8 sacks, the Jets did not have much success as a team, finishing 3-11 in his first season. Things changed when Mark Gastineau and Marty Lyons joined the Jets and formed the “New York Sack Exchange”.
With 20.5 sacks credited to him in 1981, (although sacks were not officially recorded until 1982) Klecko was named the NFL Defensive Player of the Year that year and was named to one of 4 Pro Bowls in his career.
Sam Darnold – Quarterback 2018 – present
Sam Darnold was drafted by the Jets with the third overall pick in the 2018 NFL draft to be the franchise quarterback. After setting many records at USC, there is a lot of hope that he will be able to be just that.
After a rough first year in which the Jets went 4-9 in his starts, they improved a lot after Darnold was able to rejoin the team in 2019 after a case with Mono. They finished 7-6 in games started by Sam Darnold, and hope to continue growing next year.
Tim Tebow – Quarterback 2010 – 2012
A polarizing figure, Tebow was drafted by the Denver Broncos in 2010. After 2 up-and-down seasons with the Broncos, in which he led them to a playoff victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2011.
After the Broncos acquired Peyton Manning before the 2012 season, they traded him to the New York Jets along with a 7th round pick for the Jets 4th and 6th round picks. The Jets tried to make Tebow a special teams player, and also put in the Wildcat formation to run trick plays, but Tebow only wanted to play quarterback. After one season where he played sparingly, only throwing 8 passes and rushing for 32 yards, he was released after the season.
Le’veon Bell – Running Back 2013 – present
Initially drafted out of Michigan State in the second round of the 2013 NFL draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers, Bell joined the New York Jets in 2019 after sitting out an entire season in a contract dispute. A dual-threat back capable of breaking any play for a touchdown, Bell was named to 3 Pro Bowls in his first five seasons and looks to help get the Jets back to the postseason for the first time since 2010.
Chad Pennington – Quarterback 2000 – 2010
Selected by the Jets with the 18th overall selection in the 2000 NFL draft, Chad Pennington had an up-and-down career like many other Jets. Nothing says that more than the fact that Pennington won the NFL Comeback Player of the Year twice, in 2006 and in 2008.
Unfortunately, outside of those two years Pennington only reached 3,000 yards of passing one other time and was never able to get his team to the Super Bowl. Still, he was one of the best New York Jets in the last 20 years.
Nick Mangold – Center 2006 – 2016
Drafted in the first round of the 2006 NFL draft from Ohio State University, Nick Mangold took over at the starting center in his rookie season and never looked back. Chosen to the Pro Bowl in 7 years out of an 8 year period from 2008 – 2015, Mangold was the epitome of dependability.
Jamal Adams – Strong Safety 2017 – present
Adams played for LSU, then was drafted with the 6th overall pick in the 2017 NFL draft. His hard-hitting style has gotten him a couple of fines from the NFL, but his ability to play all over the field. He has been named to the past two Pro Bowls with no signs of slowing down any time soon.
With a storied history that includes some success and some tough times, there have been many good players to come through New York to play for the Jets. Is there anybody you would like to see on a bobblehead? Let me know in the comments below!