Honorable Mention: Offensive Linemen are some of the most underappreciated players in sports. Luckily, the Jets have been privileged to have some truly great offensive. Tackle Marvin Powell and Center Kevin Mawae each played in 5 Pro Bowls, the 2009 Jets consisted of 4 Jets Pro Bowlers - LT D'Brickashaw Ferguson, LG Alan Faneca, C Nick Mangold and RG Brandon Moore. Finally, the Guard team of Randy Rasmussen and Dave Herman were the Inner lineman for the Superbowl III team. All of these blockers played their hearts out in the trenches, but there is no question who the best one of all time was...
The Number Five New York Jet of All-Time:
Everyone knows Joe Namath had bad legs. The man tasked with keeping Namath on those legs? Winston Hill. From 1963 to 1976, Winston Hill played in 195 out of 196 games for the Jets. His 8 Pro Bowl selections are the most of any Jet in team history.
From 1963 to 1970, Winston Hill protected the blindside, making 5 Pro Bowls. He then made the transition to Right Tackle and made 3 more Pro Bowls. Besides being a crushing run blocker that allowed Emerson Boozer, Matt Snell and later John Riggins to run freely, the most important task for Hill was protecting Joe Namath.
There's no need to explain the importance of a good Left Tackle. If a player like Wayne Hunter had been the Tackle, Namath's career might have lasted all of about 1 season (if that). Winston Hill kept Namath safe enough so that he only missed 1 game in his first 5 seasons.
It's always hard to quantify the offensive line position since it requires examinations of the film as opposed to just looking at comparative stats. But the stats do show that Hill was consistently ranked among the best offensive linemen the AFL and NFL had to offer for over a decade.
Superbowl III was by far the most important day for any Jets offensive linemen. The Colts defense had allowed less than 11 points per game. Hill was facing off against Colts legend Ordell Braase, but was able to get enough push to give Boozer and Snell room to run and Namath room to make the critical passes - allowing the team to score 16 points against arguably the greatest defense in history at the time.
He has never been nominated for the Hall of Fame, but many Hall of Famers owe their great careers to him. He was named to the AFL All-Time team, was part of the inaugural Jets Ring of Honor in 2010, and was honored in 2009 with Winston Hill Day.
Winston Hill may be one of the unremembered Jets in terms of his stats and records, but his contribution to the team and its legend is second to few in team history.
Next: Which Jet legend could be considered "The Anti-Namath"?