Former Jets offensive lineman Winston Hill dead at 74
NEW YORK (AP) Winston Hill, a durable All-Pro offensive tackle who played 15 seasons and helped protect Joe Namath on the way to the New York Jets' Super Bowl victory in 1969, has died. He was 74.
The team announced Tuesday night that Hill, a member of the Jets' inaugural Ring of Honor class in 2010, died in his adopted hometown of Denver.
Hill made a franchise-record eight All-Star teams, the first five at left tackle and the last three on the right side. He also holds the team mark for offensive linemen with 195 consecutive games played, keeping his streak going despite breaking a leg in the 1965 preseason. Hill also was selected in 1970 for the AFL's all-time second team.
Jets owner Woody Johnson called Hill ''one of the Jets' all-time greats'' in a statement provided by the team.
''I was very sad to hear of the passing of Winston Hill,'' Johnson said. ''He was our most decorated player with a franchise-record eight all-star game appearances. And as accomplished as he was on the field, he was an even better person whose profound impact on his teammates and those who came in contact with him left an impression for a lifetime.
''He was the type of man who, if you were his friend, you thought you were his best friend.''
Hill, who grew up in Joaquin, Texas, was drafted by Baltimore in the 11th round of the 1962 NFL draft out of Texas Southern, where he played on both the offensive and defensive lines.
The Colts released him in August 1963 and he signed with the Jets the next day. He quickly established himself as one of pro football's top offensive linemen, making three straight AFL All-Star games in 1967-69 and four straight Pro Bowls from 1970-73.
In addition to protecting Namath, Hill helped block for Matt Snell, who ran for 121 yards and a touchdown in New York's 16-7 Super Bowl victory over Baltimore.
''Winnie was like my brother,'' former center John Schmitt told the team's website. ''He was a terrific football player. His heart was as big as his body. He did not have a bad thing to say about anyone. I am going to miss that turkey.''
Hill's final season came in 1977 with the Los Angeles Rams, who also had Namath that year.
After retiring from football, Hill opened a BBQ and ribs restaurant in Centennial, Colorado.
Hill joined Namath, wide receiver Don Maynard and coach Weeb Ewbank - all members of that Super Bowl-winning team - along with running back Curtis Martin and defensive lineman Joe Klecko as the Jets' first Ring of Honor inductees.
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