Moeller: Michaels Was A Stalwart On Several Fronts

It took his passing to remind Jets’ fans how close they were to their second Super Bowl in the 1982 season.

Walt Michaels, who directed the Jets from 1977 to 1982, passed away Wednesday in Pennsylvania at the age of 89.

Michael looked and acted like the virtuous son of a Pennsylvania coal miner.

Through and through, he was old school personified. He was an instrumental linebacker on five Cleveland Browns’ championship teams, winning two titles in the process, which would be better with a 4njbets promo code 2019.

A solid football man with varied coaching background, Michaels unfortunately finished on the short end of football’s fate.

He never truly got the just desserts he deserved.

Michaels certainly had a turbulent six seasons reaching the depths and the heights, his zenith in the 1982 Season, tragically ending in the legendary “Mud Bowl.”

He had an overall 39-47 record during his tenure and it blemished his contributions to Jets’ lore. It shouldn’t.

He arguably had one of the better teams in football for the 1981 and 1982 season.

Michaels was a key architect for the Jets’ defense in their Super Bowl victory, and he unceremoniously was passed over as the heir apparent for Weeb Ewbank after 1973 season when Ewbank hired his son-in-law Charlie Winner, who was a one-season disaster.

Michaels’ 82’ club was believed by many prognosticators to beat Miami in the AFC Championship, the Jets first appearance there since 1968.

Richard Todd was a budding young quarterback with the backfield of grinder Freeman McNeil and the versatile Bruce Harper and Scott Dierking. Wesley Walker, Johnny “Lam” Jones, and Jerome Barkum were as a good as any trio receiving corps.

Marvin Powell and Joe Fields were All-Pros on an underrated offensive line.

The “Sack Exchange” led by Mark Gastineau and Joe Klecko were still recording their damage.

Greg Buttle, Lance Mehl, and Bob Crable were a steady linebacking corps. Bobby Jackson and Johnny Lynn anchored the secondary.

Still, this was a strike-shortened nine game season, and the Jets produced a 6-3 record.

The Jets managed to make the postseason, and everything came together. They had to go on the road, and pounded Cincinnati, 44-17; outlasted Oakland, 17-14; and then they traveled to Miami.

Heavy rains pounded the Miami area, and the Dolphins elected to not cover the field to apparently slow the Jets down.

It worked. Todd had a bad game, and the Jets never got on track in a 14-0 loss.

According to several reports, Michaels was irate on the flight home blaming Miami head coach Don Shula for not covering the field, and he crossed the line with his antics. He reportedly was given the choice to resign or be fired, and Michaels chose the former.

He later coached the USFL’s New Jersey Generals and produced a 25-11 mark in two seasons, but he again received the short straw when he and his staff were fired after a merger with Houston.

Michaels often has been recognized as part of the Jets’ futility, but he was ever so close to bringing the team back to their long-sought Promised Land.

About the Author

Jeff Moeller

Jeff Moeller has been covering the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL and college football and basketball as well as high school sports on a national and local scene for the past 39 years. He has been a Jets and Giants beat reporter for the past 13 years.

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