Numbers can define a player’s career. Tom Brady and the number 12 are inseparable. One can’t think of Peyton Manning without the number 18. And in my case? I can’t think of the number 42 without conjuring an image of the Jets’ long snapper, Thomas Hennessy. What Jets had stellar play while donning the single digits, plus ten? Let’s find out here.
1. K Mike Nugent
There are few players in franchise history to wear #1 – just five, actually. Only Mike Nugent (2005-2008) and RB Mike Adamle (1973-74) wore the number for more than a year. Be that as such, Nugent knocked down 75 field goals on 92 attempts in his four years with the Jets (81.5%) and after suffering a quadriceps injury early in the 2008 season was replaced by Jay Feely. Nugent was drafted outrageously high – 47th overall, a second round pick, and NYJ’s first selection in the 2005 draft. In fact, when Roberto Aguayo was selected 59th in 2016, it was the highest draft selection for a kicker since Nugent.
2. K Nick Folk
Folk takes the award of best player to wear #2 for the same reason Nugent takes #1 – there’s only been six players to don it. Folk (2010-16) is the only player to wear #2 for more than a year. The most recent wearer of the number was Jason Myers in 2018, in which he kicked 7 field goals in a single game and made the Pro Bowl. However, he was let go in the offseason, and received a large contract in Seattle. Folk is the 2nd-highest points scorer for the Jets, with 729. To some fans, Folk has earned the name of “Folk Hero” due to his clutch foot.
3. K Jay Feely
Although Feely only played two seasons with the Jets, he racked up 54 field goals made, just four less than his fellow #3 Bobby Howfield, who spent four seasons (1971-74) with the Jets. Feely had a solid 84% field goal percentage, but signed with the Cardinals in 2010.
4. QB Brett Favre
Favre spent just one season with the Jets in 2008, and the Jets went 9-7. They placed 3rd in the AFC East. Favre threw an even 22 touchdowns and 22 interceptions, tossing 3,472 yards with a 65.7% completion percentage. While the Jets failed to make the playoffs, Favre lifted Jets fans’ spirits by going on a five-win-streak which included an overtime win against the Patriots.
5. K Pat Leahy
Leahy played for the Jets from 1974 to 1991, a whopping 18 seasons. In the time Leahy kicked for the Jets, the Jets started 11 different quarterbacks, winning just 119 of the 250 games of those seasons. Leahy’s 304 made field goals are the most in Jets history, with Nick Folk’s 175 field goals in second. Unless the Jets can find a kicker that lasts 18 years, Leahy’s record is just about untouchable.
6. Mark Sanchez
The Sanchize. Two AFC Championship Games. Four road wins in the playoffs. That’s all. Ignore the buttfumble.
7. Ken O’Brien
Ken O’Brien wore #7 from 1984-1993, throwing for the 2nd-most pass yards in Gang Green history. O’Brien tossed 124 touchdowns and led the NFL in passer rating in 1985. He is widely regarded as the best Jets quarterback not named Joe Namath.
8. Browning Nagle
Almost no one of importance wears the number eight while in the Green & White – unless you count Luke Falk. Nagle started 13 games, winning just three of them. He threw seven touchdowns to 17 interceptions, posting a measly 49.4% completion percentage.
9. John Hall
Hall makes this list due to his clutch 53-yard field goal to send the Jets to the playoffs in 2001. That, and the fact that Sam Ficken and Bryce Petty are his only real contenders to the #9 throne.
10. Chad Pennington
Oh, how I wanted to place Braxton Berrios as the guy for this one. I couldn’t. Santonio Holmes had some nice touches as a Jet, but fan favorite QB Chad Pennington takes the cake. Pennington hurled 82 touchdowns in eight seasons as a Jet, adding 465 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground. He led the NFL with a 104.2 passer rating in 2002 and was the QB that first got me into football.
11-20 will come out later this week.