The New York Jets announced today that the team has created a Ring of Honor to celebrate Jets greats in their new stadium. The first class of inductees includes Weeb Ewbank, Winston Hill, Joe Klecko, Curtis Martin, Don Maynard and Joe Namath.
These six will be enshrined inside the stadium in both end zones. They will be officially inducted in a ceremony that will take place at halftime of the first game played at New Meadowlands Stadium when the Jets face the Giants on Monday, Aug. 16, at 8 p.m.
"This organization has always had a deep appreciation for and admiration of those who have worn this team's uniform," said Jets Chairman and CEO Woody Johnson. "These six men span generations of Jets football, all embodying the best of this game and what it means to truly be a Jet. With this new stadium we now have a proper way to salute those who have helped make this franchise what it is today."
The Ring of Honor inductees were selected by an internal committee led by Johnson. Each season, inductees will be nominated and added to the Ring, but there will be no minimum or maximum each year. A replica of the Ring of Honor will also hang in the field house of the team's practice facility and headquarters, the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center.
In addition to the Ring of Honor ceremony on Aug. 16, this game will feature the National Anthem performed by the Tony Award-winning cast of "Jersey Boys" and a T-38 flyover by the 12th Flying Training Wing.
The New York Jets Ring of Honor, 2010 Class:
Ewbank is the first and only head coach to win championships in both the NFL and the AFL. The NFL title came as head of the Baltimore Colts, who defeated the Giants, 23-17, in overtime in "The Greatest Game Ever Played" in 1958. The AFL crown was bestowed on Dec. 29, 1968 when Ewbank's Jets topped the Raiders, 27-23, before shocking the Colts and the football world two weeks later in Super Bowl III. Ewbank was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1978.
Hill had a storied 14-year Jets career from 1963-76, with the first half of it spent at left tackle as Joe Namath's "personal protector" and the second half as the right tackle starter. "Winnie" is the most decorated player in franchise history, having played in four AFL All-Star Games from 1964-69 and then four NFL Pro Bowls from 1970-73. Wearing No. 75 his entire career, Hill holds the franchise mark for offensive linemen with 195 consecutive games played.
Klecko was the rough, tough right end anchor of the New York Sack Exchange defensive line of the early Eighties. His 20.5 sacks in 1981 set the franchise record (broken three seasons later by Mark Gastineau) and his 77.5 career sacks are second in franchise annals. Klecko earned Pro Bowl recognition four times from 1981-85 at three different positions (DE, DT and NT), and his uniform number 73 was retired by the team on the last day of the 2004 regular season.
Martin arrived in 1998 and ran his way into the hearts of Green & White fans before his last carry in 2005. Wearing No. 28, he equaled the NFL mark for most 1,000-yard seasons from the start of a career (10), set franchise rushing marks for yards (10,302) and TDs (58), and won the league rushing title with 1,697 yards in 2004. In 2007 the team's MVP award was renamed the Curtis Martin Team MVP Award after the man who received the honor from his teammates a record four times.
Maynard was the first player to sign with the New York Titans in 1960. And after 13 seasons with the Titans and Jets, most in exquisite collaboration with Joe Namath, No. 13 finished with career receiving records that still lead the franchise: receptions (627), yardage (11,732) and touchdowns (88). Maynard was voted team MVP in 1967 after posting a franchise-record 1,434 yards, played in four AFL All-Star Games, and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1987.
Namath had a career for the ages, and nothing captures it better than "The Guarantee" followed by the MVP trophy for directing the 1968 Jets to their 16-7 shocker over the Colts in Super Bowl III. The year before, "Broadway Joe" became the first pro QB to pass for 4,000 yards in a season. He established many franchise passing marks that still stand, played in five all-star games, and in 1985 was voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame and had his No. 12 jersey retired by the Jets.