Former New York Jets coach Walt Michaels has died. He was 89.
According to the Times Leader of Wilkes-Barre, Michaels died Wednesday in his hometown of Swoyersville in Northeastern Pennsylvania.
Michaels’ daughter, Mary Ann, told the newspaper that Michaels died six years to the day after his wife, Betty, passed away on July 10, 2013.
Michaels had a 39-47-1 record in six seasons as coach of the Jets from 1977-82. His teams reached the playoffs twice — including losing to the Miami Dolphins in the AFC Championship Game in the strike-shortened 1982 season. He guided New York to a 10-5-1 record in 1981.
He resigned after the 1982 season, citing the need for a break from football.
Michaels also was defensive coordinator of the Jets when they stunned the heavily favored Baltimore Colts 16-7 in Super Bowl III.
Michaels played 12 seasons as a linebacker from 1951-63 and was a five-time Pro Bowl selection for the Cleveland Browns. He had 11 career interceptions in 133 games (127 starts) with the Green Bay Packers (1951), Browns (1952-61) and Jets (one game in 1963).
Jets chairman and CEO Christopher Johnson released a statement on Thursday.
“We are very sad to hear about the passing of Walt Michaels,” Johnson said. “Walt was a great leader who inspired players to take their games to another level. A defensive mastermind, he had one of his finest moments when he coordinated our unit in the Super Bowl III victory over the Colts. Later as a head coach, Walt led us to back-to-back playoff berths in 1981-82.
“Walt had a tireless work ethic and took an honest approach with his players. He will have a lasting impact on our organization and our thoughts and condolences go out to his family and friends.”