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The Shea Countdown: 12

Posted By Greg Prince On April 28, 2008 @ 9:00 pm In Main Page | Comments Disabled

12: Tuesday, September 9 vs Nationals

Often this year, ladies and gentlemen, as we have tackled our Countdown Like It Oughta Be, we have spoken to the extraordinary versatility of Shea Stadium and the kinds of events it has hosted. This grass and these walls have provided temporary grounds to icons spiritual, presidential and rock 'n' roll and to outdoor sports of all stripe.

But when you get right down to it, when you think of Shea and you think of something besides the Mets, you think of one other name. You think of the Jets.

Tonight we honor Shea Stadium's other long-time team-in-residence, the gang that called Flushing Meadows home for two solid decades. During their tenure here from 1964 through 1983, they made history, they wrought cheers and they made some very cold Sundays feel a little warmer.

Join us now in saluting an organization that started in the Polo Grounds, cultivated a new breed of fan and conjured a miracle of its own.

Join us now in welcoming home your New York Jets.

Football requires eleven men on the field at all times, thus we have gathered together eleven New York Jets greats who represent the team's most spectacular Shea Stadium achievements.

You can't have football without a kickoff, and no kicker was more identified with the tricky winds of Flushing Bay than he who battled them, ultimately successfully, for ten seasons before finding friendlier climes slightly to the west — Pat Leahy.

Playing special teams, one of the dangerous return men of his time, he led the entire National Football League in all-purpose yardage and three times in kick yardage; give it up for Bruce Harper.

On defense, four men who formed an unforgettable unit and heated up the Jets in their rise back to playoff contention in the early 1980s. Quarterbacks could never sit on their portfolios when the New York Sack Exchange was open for business. Give one more Shea Stadium welcome to these unstoppable defensive linemen: Abdul Salaam, Marty Lyons, Mark Gastineau and Joe Klecko.

From the offensive line, a player who spanned the two periods of Shea Stadium Jets glory, a member of the 1981 Jets team that played the final postseason football game ever at Shea Stadium and a rock for the '68 Super Bowl champs and '69 AFL Eastern Division winners as well, say hi to a guard for all seasons, Randy Rasmussen.

Staying on offense, we have three of the great weapons of the Super Bowl III champions, a trio of the most shimmering stars of the American Football League.

• He led the AFL in touchdowns scored in 1967, the year the Jets rose to respectability, and earned all-pro honors in 1968, Emerson Boozer.

• In the AFL championship game right here on December 29, 1968, he rushed 19 times for 71 yards and scored the first points of the Super Bowl two weeks later in Miami, Matt Snell.

• His six catches for 118 yards amid the bitter chill of Shea, including two for TDs, ensured the Jets would prevail over Oakland for the right to take on the Baltimore Colts and eventually secure supremacy of the football world. He is a pro football hall of famer and surely a Titan among Jets. At wide receiver, Don Maynard.

Finally, to lead his teammates down the Shea Stadium field one more time, there is no Jet more appropriate than he who will remove, yes, number 12, from the right field wall. Little more needs to be said than…ladies and gentlemen, from Broadway all the way back to Roosevelt Avenue, the greatest New York Jet of them all, Joe Namath.

Number 13 was revealed here [1].


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