CANTON, Ohio — Joe Klecko, from a corner of Pennsylvania, got there first.
Then came Darrelle Revis, from across Pennsylvania.
The two greatest defensive players in franchise history were enshrined on Saturday as the Gold Jacket guys.
Especially for Klecko, who unfairly had to wait 35 years for his day in the sun.
“Thirty years,” said Klecko, 30 years after first becoming eligible for the Hall of Fame, “I’ve been waiting to give this speech.”
Tears of joy in Jetville, “JETS! Jets! Jets! Jets!” cheers that turned Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium into shards of JetLife Stadium.
#73 Klecko jerseys and #24 Revis jerseys everywhere you look. And, of course, those green Namath No. 12 jerseys.
Revis and Klecko, kings for a day, taking over for a day from future Hall of Fame quarterback Aaron Rodgers in the first round, while chasing his second Super Bowl championship and first with the Jets .
Who have been waiting for 55 years with Namath for their second.
Great Saturday for Klecko and Revis.
Great Saturday for the Jets.
Klecko was the Great Disruptor. He is everything Quinnen Williams should aspire to be.
“I wanted to win every try and every battle,” Klecko said.
Revis, who only had to wait out the mandatory five years after retirement, was the Great Eraser. He is everything Sauce Gardner should aspire to be.
Both: Every quarterback’s worst nightmare.
And at the end of the day, when the lights go out, the busts of Namath and Don Maynard can now chat with Revis about how they would fare on Revis Island.
And the busts of Klecko and Namath’s prized bodyguard Winston Hill can argue over who would get the better of the other in one-on-one passing drills.
Klecko – introduced by his blood brother Marty Lyons, who helped unveil his bronze bust on stage – began his storied Jets career in 1977, a year after a hobbled Broadway Joe left the franchise to become Hollywood Joe for an unsatisfactory final season with the Rams. . Luckily for Namath, he didn’t have to play against Klecko.
“I wish I could play today, not so much for the competition,” Klecko said, “but for the money.”
Long before he became the highest-paid defensive lineman at $700,000 in 1986, I remember interviewing Klecko in his cramped hotel room in Hofstra, not far from the Jets’ Weeb Ewbank Hall facility. He was the alpha male who once had a fight with Joe Frazier, and if that didn’t catch your eye, it would be every time he playfully warned what the consequences would be if you hurt him:
“Six weeks,” he said, pointing to his left fist, “or death,” pointing to his right fist.
Klecko helped the 1982 Jets to 60 minutes from the Super Bowl before losing to the Dolphins in the Mud Bowl.
“We never reached the big game,” Klecko said, “but the friendships I made are worth more than a championship ring.”
Revis – introduced by his mother, Diana Askew – helped the 2009 and 2010 Jets to 60 minutes from the Super Bowl before losing to the Peyton Manning Colts and Ben Roethlisberger Steelers respectively. He captured his Super Bowl ring with Bill Belichick and Tom Brady.
Revis told me this at the start of the 2009 season: “Off the court I’m a laid back guy, but once I put on that jersey and walk through that tunnel, you know the ‘Dragon Ball Z’ cartoon. ? It’s like a ninja thing – they transfer to these Super Saiyans when they fight and go to war, and they glow and stuff. … I just like to scream when I go through this tunnel. I just think I’m like a Super Saiyan or lion out there just trying to get hungry, and go out there and dominate.
Askew called his son a “superhero”. And he paid him a special tribute. “My first coach,” Revis said.
Quarterbacks could avoid entering Revis Island. It was a rare occurrence if he got “foamed”.
There was no escaping the raging bull that was Klecko. He was to the Jets defense what Lawrence Taylor was to the Giants defense in the 1980s. Even as his blue-collar style clashed with the Look-at-me sack dances of Mark Gastineau.
“One of the greatest personalities in NFL history, my teammate Mark Gastineau … Mark, I know that through our competitive nature, we’ve improved,” Klecko said.
His voice cracked as he paid tribute to former teammate and center Jim Sweeney, who died suddenly in October.
Revis thanked Jets fans.
“The best fans in the world,” Revis said to cheers. “It feels like MetLife stadium here,” Revis said. More cheers. “For all the boos here when I got drafted 14th overall and burned my jersey when I signed with the Patriots…I guess it’s safe to say we’ve been through a lot together,” Revis added. “Thank you for believing in me, supporting me every step of the way.”
“You will always have a place to stay on Revis Island.”
After all the coaches, teammates and friends, Klecko gave thanks, and of course God, he turned to the Jets fans: “I can’t leave without thanking my loyal Jets fans,” Klecko said. A roar erupted. Firefighter Ed was now leading this “JETS!” Jets! Jets! Jets!” chant. “Thank YouKlecko said as he walked away.
One day room for Klecko and Revis and the Jets.
A sign behind the stadium summed it up perfectly for Joe Klecko and Darrelle Revis:
This is football heaven.