Home » Sports » Smallthoughts: Old School Tuesday…Joe Klecko

Smallthoughts: Old School Tuesday…Joe Klecko

Start here


Joe Klecko jpgKleckoJets Joe Klecko

Joe Klecko was the tough guy of the Sack Exchange. He also was the one who went to the Pro Bowl in 3 different positions… Defensive End, Defensive Tackle and Nose Tackle.

Klecko was drafted by the New York Jets in the sixth round (144th overall) of the 1977 NFL Draft. Despite eight sacks by Klecko, his team went only 3-11 his first season. However, when he and Abdul Salaam were joined by Mark Gastineau and Marty Lyons on the Jets’ defensive line, they formed one of the top defensive lines in the NFL, known as the “New York Sack Exchange.” The four combined for 66 sacks in 1981, including a league-leading 20.5 by Klecko, to lead the Jets to their first playoff game since 1969. Klecko was honored with his first All-Pro selection. In November 1981, Klecko, Gastineau, Salaam and Lyons were invited to ring the ceremonial opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange, which served as the inspiration for their nickname.[3]

Klecko appeared in only one regular season game for the Jets in 1982, rupturing the patella tendon in his right knee in the second game of the season against the New England Patriots. The Jets made the playoffs in 1982, losing the AFC Championship game to the Miami Dolphins. Klecko made a second appearance with the Jets during their 17-14 playoff victory over the Oakland Raiders.

Klecko moved from Defensive End to Defensive Tackle in 1983, and was named to the Pro Bowl at his new position in 1983 & 1984. The Jets switched to a 3-4 alignment in 1985, forcing Klecko to learn a new position, Nose Tackle. He led the Jets with 96 tackles and five forced fumbles, and tied for second with 7.5 sacks to earn his second All-Pro selection, and become the second player, after Frank Gifford,[4] in professional football history to be selected to the Pro Bowl at three different positions.

Following a subpar 6-9 1987 season, the Jets released Klecko. He played one more season with the Indianapolis Colts, who went 9-7 in 1988, including a 34-16 loss to the Jets. Following the season, Klecko retired due to chronic knee problems.

Hall of Fame credentials

While Klecko has been nominated for the Pro Football Hall of Fame several times, he has not yet been enshrined. Hall of Fame center Dwight Stephenson, in describing Klecko as a “great defensive lineman”, considered him one of the two best interior linemen he had ever faced.[6] Hall of Fame tackle Anthony Munoz said about Klecko, “In my 13 seasons, Joe is right there at the top of the defensive ends I had to block, up there with Fred Dean, Lee Roy Selmon and Bruce Smith. Joe was the strongest guy I ever faced. He had perfect technique — hands in tight, great leverage. My second year, 1981, we went to Shea and beat the Jets, 31-30, but he was such an intense, smart player, I knew I was in a battle. He was the leader, the guy who kept that unit together.”[7]

Hall of Fame guard Joe DeLamielleure added that “You can’t think of his ten year period without him. I had to block Joe Greene and Merlin Olsen when I was playing and, believe me, Joe Klecko was equal to those two guys. If Joe Klecko had played one position for ten years, he’d have been considered one of the top two or three players at that position, whichever one it was. There’s not another player who went to the Pro Bowl at three different positions. You take a defensive end and put him at nose tackle and he’s just as good there, that’s a great player. We need to get Joe Klecko in the Hall of Fame.”[7]

On December 26, 2004, during a halftime ceremony, the Jets honored Klecko by retiring his #73 jersey. Klecko became just the third New York Jet to have his number retired, joining Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Namath and Hall of Fame wide receiver Don Maynard. On August 16, 2010, during halftime of the New York Giants-Jets preseason game at the New Meadowlands Stadium, Klecko was inducted as a member of the inaugural class into the Jets’ Ring of Honor.

Smallthoughts: Old School Tuesday salutes one of the greatest Jets of all time …Joe Klecko.

Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Sacks 24
Fumble recoveries 9
Seasons 10
Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: