The family of Walt Michaels has announced that the former Jets head coach died on Wednesday.
His daughter, Mary Ann, said her father never forgot his roots, growing up in the coal region of Northeastern Pennsylvania where he learned the value and importance of a solid work ethic.
”His work ethic did come from this area,” Mary Ann said. “My father understood what hard work was. He never missed work — no sick days and no personal days. He never forgot his roots.”
Michaels is an important figure in Jets history.
He had a decade-long stint as a defensive assistant coach. During that time he was part of the Super Bowl III winning staff. Michaels left the Jets after he was denied the opportunity to take over as head coach when Weeb Ewbank stepped down. He returned a few years later to work on Lou Holtz’s staff. Eventually he landed the head coaching job after Holtz’s brutal tenure ended quickly.
Michaels inherited the team during a dark stretch in franchise history and slowly turned things around. The Jets were at the bottom of the league when he took over. By the end of his tenure, they came within a game of the Super Bowl, losing the infamous Mud Bowl to the Miami Dolphins in the AFC Championship Game. That proved to be his final game as Jets head coach.
For his work, Michaels is largely regarded as the second greatest coach in franchise history behind Ewbank.