On Tuesday afternoon, the New York Jets announced one of the team’s former defensive lineman passed away.
Paul “Rocky” Rochester died over the weekend, the team said in a statement. The former Jets defender was 81 years old and would have turned 82 next month.
Rochester grew up in Michigan and played his collegiate football – and lacrosse – at Michigan State. Although he went undrafted, he signed with the Dallas Texans of the American Football League before landing in New York.
Longtime public relations director Frank Ramos, who was a high school classmate of Rochester, spoke about the former New York defender’s passing.
Here’s his statement.
“Paul was an underrated defensive tackle who played a major role on the Jets’ Super Bowl championship team. He was a great run stopper who enabled defensive ends Gerry Philbin and Verlon Biggs to rush from the outside and John Elliott, the quick defensive tackle, to rush up the middle. Walt Michaels came up with a scheme to use undersized linebacker Carl McAdams at DT on passing downs, leading the 1968 Jets to have the number one defense in the AFL.”
Rochester spent three seasons with the Texans, who eventually became known as the Kansas City Chiefs.
He then landed in New York, where he became a vital part of the Jets’ success. He was one of just 20 players who played in all 10 of the AFL’s seasons before the merger with the NFL.
Our thoughts are with Rochester’s family and the Jets community.