Since its inception back in 1960 as a founding member of the AFL, the New York Jets franchise has had very little overall success with its quarterbacks. The Jets franchise has always tried to get great quarterbacks, but for a variety of crazy reasons, the Jets quarterbacks always have problems. Are New York Jets quarterbacks cursed?
Here’s a look at most of the starting quarterbacks in the Jets franchise history, and the host of problems they have ended up having to deal with.
Are New York Jets Quarterbacks Cursed?
- Al Dorow (1960-1961)
The New York Jets (called Titans for 1960-1963) first starting quarterback was named Al Dorow in 1960 in the AFL. Dorow actually led the AFL in passing touchdowns in 1960 with 26, but he also threw 26 interceptions.
In 1961, Al Dorow led the AFL in interceptions with 30. He then went to Buffalo in 1962, and hurt his arm in the fourth game and never played again.
- Joe Namath (1965-1976)
Joe Namath famously predicted a New York Jets victory over the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III, and the Jets win really propelled the NFL to a new level, and made the AFL-NFL merger in 1970 a great success. Joe Namath was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1985.
On the surface, Joe Namath was not cursed, but let’s look at his career and numbers closely. Joe Namath played in the NFL for 13 years, 12 with the Jets. He threw 173 touchdowns and 220 interceptions. So Joe Namath threw 47 more interceptions in his career than touchdowns.
Joe Namath led the league once in passing touchdowns (1972 with 19), and led the league four times in interceptions (27 in 1966, 28 in 1967, 22 in 1974, and 28 in 1975) . Joe Namath’s career completion percentage was 50.1%, and he had a losing record (62-63-4) as a starting quarterback in the AFL-NFL.
While Joe Namath had one of the strongest passing arms I’ve ever seen, I was a kid when he played in the 1970s, he was plagued with injuries, including bad knees, and for many years he wore huge knee braces which greatly limited his mobility. Namath was cursed with injuries that limited his playing time after 1969.
During a nationally televised late season NFL game in 2003, Joe Namath was interviewed by ESPN sideline reporter Suzy Kolber, and Namath twice told Kolber during the interview that he wanted to kiss her. Suzy Kolber is cute, but she is not make a fool of yourself on national TV cute, and Joe Namath apologized for the incident and admitted he had an alcohol problem, which he sought treatment for. But what other NFL team’s iconic quarterback told a sideline reporter he wanted to kiss her on the air?
- Richard Todd (1976-1983)
Richard Todd was another longtime Jets quarterback who was plagued by interceptions. Todd, who had the bad habit of patting the ball before he threw it, had 161 interceptions and 124 touchdowns in his career. Richard Todd destroyed the Jets chances of reaching the Super Bowl during the 1982 season, when he threw five interceptions vs the Miami Dolphins in the AFC Championship game.
- Ken O’Brien (1984-1992)
Six quarterbacks were famously taken in the first round of the 1983 NFL Draft. Four of the first round quarterbacks led their teams to 11 total Super Bowl appearances, and three of the quarterbacks are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
The New York Jets took Ken O’Brien in the first round of the 1983 NFL Draft (before Dan Marino), and he never led them to the Super Bowl, and he will never be in the Hall of Fame.
- Boomer Esiason (1993-1995)
After nine seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals, in which he led the team to a Super Bowl appearance during the 1988 season, Boomer Esiason joined the Jets in 1993. Over his three years with the Jets, Esiason had a record of 15-27, and no playoff appearances.
Boomer Esiason is one of just 15 NFL quarterbacks to throw for over 500 yards in a game. Of course, he did not accomplish the feat while playing for the New York Jets.
- Vinny Testaverde (1998-2003)
After leading the Jets to a 10-0 third quarter lead in the AFC Championship game during the 1998 season, the Broncos beat the Jets, 23-10, in the game, many people thought Vinny Testaverde would lead the Jets to the Super Bowl in 1999. Instead, Testaverde ruptured his Achilles tendon in the first game of the 1999 season, and the Jets did not make the playoffs.
- Chad Pennington (2000-2007)
Every time Chad Pennington looked like he was going to lead the New York Jets somewhere, he got hurt. Pennington did lead the Jets to the playoffs three times as a starter, but after a bad season in 2007, the Jets released Chad Pennington when they acquired Brett Favre in August of 2008. Pennington signed with the Miami Dolphins and led them to playoffs in 2008.
- Brett Favre (2008)
The Jets acquired NFL great Brett Favre in August of 2008, and he promptly led the team to a 8-3 record through 11 games. The Jets then lost four of their last five games, and missed the playoffs, and it was revealed later that Favre had played hurt.
During the 2008 season with the Jets, Brett Favre allegedly sent the Jets sideline reporter, Jenn Sterger, suggestive text and voicemail messages trying to get her to come to his hotel room. Favre was fined $50,000 by the NFL for the incidents.
Only the New York Jets could have two NFL greats (Namath and Favre) doing this kind of stuff with sideline reporters.
- Mark Sanchez (2009-2013)
The Jets moved up in the 2009 NFL Draft to take quarterback Mark Sanchez with the fifth overall pick. Sanchez led the Jets to two straight AFC Championship games, winning four road playoff games along the way, over his first two seasons.
The Jets then missed the playoffs in 2011 and 2012, and Sanchez took much of the blame. On Thanksgiving night in 2012, Mark Sanchez famously fumbled the ball after running into his own lineman’s backside (the so-called butt fumble).
In the 2013 NFL Draft, the Jets took quarterback Geno Smith in the second round. During the 2013 preseason, the Jets started Geno Smith vs the New York Giants in a late preseason game, and then brought Mark Sanchez into the game in the fourth quarter. While playing with the second string offensive line, Sanchez took a vicious hit that tore his labrum, which virtually ended his Jets career.
In 2011, Mark Sanchez made headlines when it was revealed he had dated a 17 year old high school student named Eliza Kruger. Sanchez did nothing illegal, she was of legal age, but the incident was pretty embarrassing for the Jets.
- Geno Smith (2013)
Will the New York Jets quarterback curse continue with Geno Smith?