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 81.
It should come as no shock how many of the players in this series came from the AFL glory days and the Super Bowl III team. When it comes to number 81, the greatest Jet is defensive lineman Gerry Philbin.
The Jets picked Philbin in the third round of the 1964 AFL Draft. He was undersized for defense end. Head coach Weeb Ewbank said of him, "When Gerry came to us, he was kind of an in-between guy...There were lots of people who said he'd make a great linebacker, but we needed a defensive end." He proved himself by playing through a dislocated shoulder as a rookie.
Philbin became a star for the Jets. In the 1968 Super Bowl season, he posted an unofficial 19 sacks. When you consider that, remember the Jets only played a 14 game season.
Former Jets head coach Rex Ryan, whose father Buddy coached Philbin had this to say.
"When you talk about a relentless motor and that Jet mentality, that was Gerry Philbin," said Jets head coach Rex Ryan, who lists Philbin as one of his three all-time favorite Jets from that 1968 team he hung out with while his father, Buddy, coached up Weeb Ewbank's defensive line.
"I remember my dad telling the story about him going up against Bob Brown, who was a Hall of Fame tackle who was mean as he could be. He was having a good day against Philbin, but Philbin just kept coming, kept coming. At the end of the game, Gerry got back-to-back sacks and the Jets won. It was one of those deals where he was so relentless, he never let up the entire game. If you weren't at your best, he was going to beat you."
Philbin played nine seasons with the Jets. He was inducted into the Ring of Honor in 2011.