It’s been said you never want to be the guy to replace the legend, you want to be the guy who replaced the guy who replaced the legend. For Richard Todd he was the guy who replaced the legend …Joe Namath. Was drafted by the Jets out of Alabama just like Namath and had the misfortune of playing under the bright lights of New York and the large shadow of Joe Namath. Not easy to deal with.
In his first five seasons, he threw more interceptions than touchdowns and was booed by fans and criticized by the press. He is also known for an incident in which he shoved reporter Steve Serby into a locker after Serby supported backup quarterback Matt Robinson as starter, instead of him. In a 1980 game against the San Francisco 49ers, in which the Jets had fallen far behind early, Todd, throwing under a prevent zone defense, set a then-NFL record with 42 completions. (The record would stand until Drew Bledsoe completed 45 passes in a single game during the 1994 season.) The Niners won the game, 37-27. Todd threw 30 interceptions in 1980, and the Jets finished 4-12. Late in the 1980 season, Todd’s Jets hosted the winless New Orleans Saints; Todd completed only 10 of 27 passes and was intercepted twice, as the Saints grabbed a 21-20 win for their only win of the 1980 season. Also that year, Todd set an NFL record for throwing an interception in 15 games in one season.
In 1981, Todd led the Walt Michaels-coached Jets to their first winning record (10-5-1) since 1969, thanks in part to a defense nicknamed the “New York Sack Exchange.” In the AFC Wild Card Playoff game against the Buffalo Bills, he led a comeback after the team had fallen behind, 24-0, but fell short, as a late pass was intercepted near the Bills’ goal line. The following year, he led the Jets back to the playoffs. New York defeated the defending AFC Champion Cincinnati Bengals, 44-17, then beat the Los Angeles Raiders, 17-14, before facing the Dolphins in Miami in the AFC Championship Game. The game was played in the mud after the Dolphins failed to cover the field during a pre-game rainstorm. Todd threw five interceptions in the game and the Jets lost, 14-0. His final year with New York saw a change at head coach, as Walt Michaels was replaced with Jets offensive coordinator Joe Walton. The Jets finished the season at 7-9 and Todd was traded to the New Orleans Saints after the season.
Smallthoughts:Old School Tuesday spotlights…Richard Todd.
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