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Matt Snell

Though New York Jets owner Sonny Werblin made history with his 1965 acquisition of Joe Namath, Werblin’s first coup over the NFL was the 1964 signing of Ohio State‘s powerful fullback Matt Snell (born 1941). In an example of the lack of scouting, foresight and persistence of many NFL teams, the Giants did not draft Snell until the third round, and offered a fraction of what the Jets gave him as their first-round choice. Snell immediately paid dividends. In his rookie year, he rushed for a Jets record 180 yards against the Oilers, on his way to a 945-yard season and American Football League Rookie of the Year honors.

Snell was an AFL All-Star three times, but his defining moment came in the third AFL-NFL World Championship Game, when the AFL Champion Jets played the 1968 NFL Champion Baltimore Colts. The Jets received the ball first, and on their second play from scrimmage, Snell slammed into Colts safety Rick Volk, touted as one of the toughest tacklers in the NFL. "When Rick hits you," said Colts head coach Don Shula, "you might not get up." This time it was Volk who did not get up, and Snell was the key player in the Jets ball-control offense in the 16-7 upset of the Colts. Although slowed by knee injuries, Snell carried 30 times for 121 yards. In the second quarter, he went 4 yards around the left end to score the Jets only touchdown. It was his sixth carry on an 80 yard drive. He also helped set up 3 Jim Turner field goals that finally put the game away for the Jets in the second half.

Snell is a member of the American Football League Hall of Fame.


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