Mount Rushmore should be a special place for any franchise, a monument to excellence and greatness on and off the field. For the New York Jets, Al Toon certainly deserves to be in that discussion as one of the best players in franchise history.
Toon played the entirety of his eight seasons in the NFL with the Jets, making the Pro Bowl three times as well as being named All-Pro in 1986. His career numbers are among the best in franchise history: 517 receptions (third) and 6,605 receiving yards (third) and 31 touchdowns (eighth). Major selling points for his candidacy to make Mount Rushmore.
He led the Jets in receiving yards four times, overshadowed at the end of his career by Rob Moore.
The Jets made the playoffs three times during his run with the organization as well. His numbers are compelling, but are they worthy to be among the best in franchise history? He’s among the franchise’s legends, but to say he is one of the best four ever to suit-up for the Jets needs some exploring.
Already, three names are up on Mount Rushmore for being the top players in the franchise’s history. The first name, quarterback Joe Namath, is without debate. The same can be said of running back Curtis Martin, although he lacks the Super Bowl that Namath brought to the organization. The third name up on the franchise’s Mount Rushmore, Darrelle Revis, is up for debate only because of his multiple contractual holdouts and the fact that he signed as a free agent with the rival New England Patriots.
Other names are worthy of exploring, from center Nick Mangold and wide receiver Wayne Crebet to Fireman Ed. Toon, in terms of raw impact, is equally as deserving.
To make Mount Rushmore, a player must not just have a few very good years. It must be excellence, long-term, that translates to winning and sustained success. Toon at the end of the day falls a bit short through no fault of his own.
His contributions to the Jets were very good, perhaps even outstanding as he made three straight Pro Bowls following his rookie season. Ultimately, injuries and in particular concussions, played a cruel role in his future. He, like Chrebet, laid it all out on the field. Unfortunately, his love for the game and the Jets was ultimately his undoing as the concussions, suffered when laying his body out to make a play, cut short a beautiful career.
Toon’s impact on the Jets was of a higher-echelon level, but it simply wasn’t sustained. He only played a full 16-game season once in New York, missing 21 games over eight seasons. Had his career not ended early or injuries seemingly derailed him at every turn, Toon very well could have been one of the top four players in franchise history.