If there is one player who deserves to be on the New York Jets’ Mount Rushmore for what he did on and off the field, it is Marty Lyons.
A giant of a man, Lyons was a fantastic football player during an 11-year career with the Jets. He became a fan favorite for playing with his heart on his sleeve and with a relentless motor. Wherever the ball was on the field, the defensive tackle was always nearby. He had guts and courage and played like a man possessed.
He had 29 sacks and two safeties during his career, all spent with the Jets. He did this while playing the thankless role in the middle of the defensive line.
His play alone, much like teammates Mark Gastineau and Joe Klecko, make him a candidate to be the fourth and final face on Mount Rushmore. Already, Joe Namath, Curtis Martin and Darrelle Revis are on the team’s list as three of the four faces of the franchise.
But what makes Lyons a legend and a hero is what he has done away from the game of football. The word hero is thrown around way too much and without meaning these days. But Lyons is a hero in every meaning of the word.
Through the Marty Lyons Foundation, the former Jets star has touched the lives of thousands of people. The foundation has granted the wishes of nearly 9,000 children with chronic and often times terminal illnesses.
Over 90 percent of all donations made go directly towards granting wishes. Lyons himself, despite working a full-time job and serving as an analyst for the team on ESPN Radio, is heavily involved in the foundation from fund-raising to granting wishes.
It was a tough decision as Lyons misses out on making the list as the fourth name on Mount Rushmore. But as a legend and a hero, he is fully deserving to be not just cheered by Jets fans as one of their own but set forth as a role model for all that is right about sports.