AFC East: Leon Hess

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Former New York Jets wide receiver Wayne Chrebet and former owner Leon Hess were announced as this year's Ring of Honor inductees during the first quarter of the Jets-Bears "Monday Night Football" game.

Chrebet was shown on the jumbo television screen in the stadium and received a huge cheer from the fans. He played from 1995-2005 for the Jets and is second in franchise history with 580 receptions.

Hess was part of a partnership that bought the Jets in 1963, and he bought out his partners to become the majority stakeholder in 1973. Hess owned the team until his death in 1999.

Other members of the Jets' Ring of Honor are Joe Namath, Don Maynard, Weeb Ewbank, Curtis Martin, Winston Hill, Gerry Philbin, Larry Grantham, Joe Klecko, Mark Gastineau, Freeman McNeil, Wesley Walker, Al Toon and Marty Lyons.
Pete Carroll doesn't have fond memories of his time with the New York Jets, and that's understandable. He went 6-10 in his only season as the head coach and was unceremoniously fired, replaced by Rich Kotite.

Now Carroll returns to New Jersey for Super Bowl XLVIII, coaching the NFC champion Seattle Seahawks. On Monday, he was asked if it's a "full-circle" moment for him.

"I think my first time in New York as a head coach was kind of in the middle of the circle somewhere or maybe it wasn’t even a circle, it might have been some other shape," Carroll joked. “It was kind of a hairy time."

Carroll's abrupt firing, and the infamous Dan Marino fake spike play that triggered the late-season collapse, overshadowed some good work as the Jets' defensive coordinator. From 1990 to 1993, the Jets ranked 23rd, 12th, 16th and eighth in total defense, respectively. They were even better in points allowed, finishing 17th, 10th, 18th and sixth.

Carroll demonstrated promise as a coach and then things got ... well, hairy, when owner Leon Hess decided he absolutely had to hire Kotite. The Jets went from hairy to scary.

Jets Rushmore: Namath, Martin, Chrebet, Klecko

February, 16, 2009
2/16/09
9:45
AM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

After two weeks of polling, the ballots have been counted to determine your picks for the Mount Rushmore of each AFC East team.

To play off ESPN's quest to determine the best sports Mount Rushmore from the 50 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico, I asked for your thoughts on the four legends who best symbolize the Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots and New York Jets.

 Chrebet
 Klecko
 Namath
 Martin

Readers mentioned 18 Jets, creating the most eclectic menu of the four clubs. Fireman Ed was nominated. So were former public relations director Frank Ramos and, despite one wildly erratic season, Brett Favre.

But the votes piled up for an unmistakable foursome of quarterback Joe Namath, running back Curtis Martin, receiver Wayne Chrebet and defensive lineman Joe Klecko.

There was a huge drop from Klecko to the fifth-place candidate, old-school receiver Don Maynard.

I was surprised to see Maynard not make the list. He's one of only two Hall of Fame players known primarily as Jets. I included him in the Jets Mount Rushmore I set forth in the original post.

But I do realize Chrebet's popularity and agree he's a symbolic figure in Jets history. It's tough to argue with him being etched into the Jets' Mount Rushmore.

Here is a breakdown of the top 10:

  1. Joe Namath
  2. Curtis Martin
  3. Wayne Chrebet
  4. Joe Klecko
  5. Don Maynard
  6. Weeb Ewbank
  7. Dennis Byrd
  8. Mark Gastineau
  9. Mo Lewis
  10. Brett Favre

Take a look at a few comments from those who voted in the AFC East mailbag and in the comments section of the original post:

The Kid in Staten Island, N.Y., writes: JETS Mount Rushmore: Broadway Joe Namath- that guarantee will live in infamy Mark Gastineau- 22 sacks in a season stood for 17 years until Strahan broke it. Had a swagger. Part of the NY Sack Exchange Wayne Chrebet- the little man that could. Hofstra kid came from nowhere, and was a fan favorite because of his heart. The "Rudy" of the NY Jets Dennis Byrd- temporarily paralyzed, still a role model for Jets fans in the way he perservered.

Mike from Parts Unknown writes: Does it have to be players only? More so than Namath himself I'd say Weeb Ewbank is the most important figure for the Jets of that era. Namath won one with him, but not without. Joe Klecko is a must. He represents an era my father dubs "the weakest golden years in all of pro sports." The NY sack exchange almost brought the Jets back to the Super Bowl twice, but ultimately failed. Curtis Martin represents the best in all of us, and as a Jets fan he is a symbol of our fandom: full of hope but ultimately just a good guy who came up short in his one real chance. Has there ever been a better RB that so many just don't care about outside of his team's fanbase? Finally I believe Chad Pennington needs to be on the Mount Rushmore of the Jets. He was the best QB in franchise history and though he never won the big game like Namath, he simply was so identifiable for us. Joe Willy is like that much older sibling you think of as a second parent. Sure they are your sibling, but you just don't think of them in that way. They are also likely you wish you could be more like. Broadway Joe is such a larger than life figure even today, but the team never lived up to his legacy and as Jets fans I don't think any of us really identify with him very well at this point, though we wish we could.

Mark in Palm Coast, Fla., writes: Hey Tim, There are more than a few names that come to mind here, but if I had to go with just four they would be as follows: 1: Joe Namath (Goes without saying) 2: Wayne Chrebet (3rd down specialist) 3: Leon Hess (Is there any owner who cared more for their team) 4: Fireman Ed (The Ultimate 12th Man) Honarable mention should also be given to Dennis Byrd for his inspiration, and perhaps Curtis Martin.

Chris in Hartsdale, N.Y., writes: Though I think Joe Namath is incredibly overrated I guess he belongs on the Jets Mt. Rushmore. The other 3: -Curtis Martin. Not the most talented RB in Jets history(that was Freeman Mcneil but he was always hurt) but the best overall. -Al Toon. Would have been a Hall of Famer had his career not been cut short. -Joe Klecko. Should be in the Hall of Fame but may never make it. If he was a Steeler and had a lesser career than he had they would have enshrined him 15 years ago.

delfiorio writes: Nothing symbolizes the Jets quite like Ken O'Brien falling on the ball as 4 pass rushers converge on him.

wOoDfOoTbAlL writes: Joe Klecko, Weeb, Curtis Martin, Don Maynard.....forget about Namath he cursed our franchise when he made a deal with the devil 40 years ago. were never going to win another super bowl

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