The early part of the NFL awards ceremony put a spotlight on the future of the Jets. Garrett Wilson and Sauce Gardner swept the league’s Offensive and Defensive Rookie of the Year Awards.
The latter part of the ceremony focused on the Jets’ past. The Class of 2023 in the Pro Football Hall of Fame was announced, and a pair of Jets icons were included; defensive lineman Joe Klecko and cornerback Darrelle Revis.
Broadly speaking, Jets franchise history has three great eras. The first was led by Joe Namath and resulted in the only Super Bowl win in team history in 1969.
Klecko and Revis were the top players from the other two eras, the Sack Exchange days of the 1980s and Rex Ryan’s first two seasons in 2009 and 2010.
For Klecko, it was a long wait. He retired after the 1988 season. That final season was spent with the Colts, but he was a member of the Jets for the first eleven seasons of his career. That time saw him win the Defensive Player of the Year award in 1981, earn three All Pro selections, and make the Pro Bowl four times. Most impressively, he was a Pro Bowler at three different positions, defensive end, defensive tackle, and nose tackle. Klecko’s candidacy was likely hurt by the fact the league only officially started counting it as a sack in 1982. In any event, Klecko anchored one of the most iconic units of his era, the New York Sack Exchange, a menacing defensive line. This selection is long overdue.
Revis, on the other hand, got in on the first ballot. He is no less deserving. Revis was the most dominant player on Rex Ryan’s defenses. In an era where the rules made it virtually impossible to be a shutdown corner, Revis was a shutdown corner. His finest season was in 2009 when he followed almost every elite receiver around the field all game and shut them all down. He was robbed of the Defensive Player of the Year award that season. He did earn three All Pro nods and five Pro Bowls as a member of the Jets.
In recent years the Jets have seen a number of former players enshrined in the Hall of Fame. These have generally been players who were most prominent for other teams with a brief stop in New York at the end of their careers. It is nice to see two real Jets make it this year.