Bill Rademacher, a wide receiver and defensive back for five seasons with the early Jets, culminating in his appearance in the victory in Super Bowl III, has died. He was 75.
Rademacher came to the Jets in 1964, their first season playing at Shea Stadium, as a 6'1", 190-pound undrafted free agent out of Northern Michigan, where as an end he earned team MVP honors in 1963.
He began his career wearing No. 83 and playing in six games in '64. A big play his rookie season was an interception of the legendary George Blanda when the Jets played at Houston in Week 13.
Rademacher switched to No. 23 for the rest of his Green & White career, playing in 31 games in all, including all 14 regular-season games in the 1968 Super Bowl season.
As a backup split end/flanker in '68, he had two receptions for 11 yards. On special teams he recovered a fumbled punt after the opening series in the Jets' season opener at Kansas City and added a recovery on a kickoff return fumble at the Oilers. He played in the AFC Championship against Oakland, in which he had three tackles, and the Super Bowl triumph over Baltimore.
"One of Weeb Ewbank's favorite quotes was 'the more things you can do helps you get a spot on the team,' " recalled long-time Jets public relations director Frank Ramos. " 'Rad,' like John Dockery, was one of those good athletes who could help out on offense and defense in a pinch and also proved to be a very good special teams player."
The Jets waived Rademacher in the '69 preseason and he moved on to Boston for his final two pro seasons. He had the best pro receiving game of his career as a Patriot in a loss to the Jets in '69 with six catches for 78 yards and his first pro touchdown. For his career he played in 58 games and had 24 catches for 282 yards and three TDs, with all the scores coming with the Pats.
Shortly after his NFL playing career ended, Rademacher returned to the Midwest to coach the game he loved. His first stop was at Xavier in Cincinnati as an assistant coach in 1972-73. When the Musketeers discontinued their football program, he moved back to his alma mater.
In his first year as a Northern Michigan assistant coach in '74, the Wildcats went 0-10. The next season they improved to 13-1 and won the NCAA Division II championship.
He took over as NMU's head coach in 1978 and compiled a record of 37-16-1 in five seasons. That record included a 10-0 regular season in 1981 and four playoff games in three NCAA Division II tournament appearances. He was named Mid Continent Conference Coach of the Year in 1980. He left NMU to coach the linebackers at Michigan State from 1983-91.
In 1981 Rademacher was inducted into the Northern Michigan University Hall of Fame, and two years later he gained entry into the Upper Peninsula Sports Hall of Fame.