The New York Jets lost one of their most respected former head coaches on Thursday. Walt Michaels, who coached the team’s defense in their lone Super Bowl win and later served as the head coach, has passed away at the age of 89.
Michaels served as the Jets’ defensive coordinator under Hall of Fame head coach Weeb Ewbank. In 1968, his unit was the No. 1 defense in the AFL, and would go on to hold the heavily favored Baltimore Colts to just seven points in their historic 16-7 Super Bowl III victory.
He departed the team in 1973 and spent three seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles before returning to the Jets in 1976. He became the team’s head coach the following year and soon helped them return to the playoffs.
Former head coach and Super Bowl III defensive coordinator Walt Michaels has passed away.
— New York Jets (@nyjets) July 11, 2019
In 1981, Michaels coached the Jets to a 10-5-1 record, securing a spot in the playoffs for the first time since the AFL-NFL merger.
The following year, the Jets would make the playoffs again and advanced all the way to the AFC Championship Game, only to lose to the Miami Dolphins in the infamous Mud Bowl Game.
Michaels resigned as head coach several weeks after the game. His final record as an NFL head coach was 39-47-1 and still has the fourth-most wins in franchise history.
He returned to coaching football in 1984 as head coach of the USFL’s New Jersey Generals.
Before his coaching career, Michaels played at Washington & Lee University and had a highly successful career in the NFL as a linebacker, making five straight Pro Bowls for the Cleveland Browns from 1955-59. He was a part of the 1954 and ’55 NFL Championship teams.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to Mr. Michaels’ family and loved ones.