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Jets History: Wayne Chrebet Beat the Odds to Become a Great Jet

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

As we approach the season, we are going to count down the history of Jets jersey numbers along with some of the notable players to wear each number. Today we will look at number 80.

If you went into a movie producer's office with the story of Wayne Chrebet's career as a script, you might be be dismissed for coming up with a story too implausible to be believed.

Chrebet was a local kid who generated no interest coming out of a small college. He didn't seem to have any of the physical attributes necessary to have success as an NFL wide receiver. He tried out with a Canadian Football League team and didn't even get offered a contract.

The Jets gave him a shot in 1995, perhaps as a favor to Hofstra, Chrebet's alma mater, which was also the location where the Jets trained at the time. Against enormous odds, he found a way to stick on the 53 man roster, where he would last for 11 seasons.

His career got off to a bit of a rough start. In just his second NFL game, Chrebet dropped what would have been a game-winning touchdown pass in overtime against the Indianapolis Colts, a game the team lost on its way to a 3-13 season. Along the way, however, Chrebet was a bright spot in an otherwise dismal season. His 725 receiving yards led the team. It wasn't bad for an undrafted rookie.

Through the years, Chrebet became a valuable weapon for the Jets. He didn't dominate at under 6'0" tall and under 200 pounds. He only had a single 1,000 yard season. He never played in a Pro Bowl. Still, he found a way to make big catches when they mattered most. During the span of his career, only eight players in the NFL had more receptions on third down to extend drives.

Chrebet's greatest moment might have been in a 2000 game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Former teammate Keyshawn Johnson had derisively called himself a star and Chrebet a flashlight by comparison. Yet while Johnson was shut down, Chrebet hauled in the game-winning touchdown pass on a halfback option thrown by Curtis Martin with under one minute to play.

After a long career with the team, concussions ended Chrebet's career in 2005. Symbolic of his incredible determination, Chrebet's last act on an NFL field was holding onto a drive-extended third down catch despite being knocked unconscious.

Chrebet was inducted into the Ring of Honor in 2014.