Jim Turner, the first Jets kicker in Super Bowl history, dies at 82

Jim Turner, who fulfilled Joe Namath’s prediction that the New York Jets would win Super Bowl III in 1969 by hitting three field goals and an extra point, making him the game’s leading scorer, died Saturday at his home in Arvada, Colo. Went. Denver suburb. He was 82 years old.

The Jets and Denver Broncos, the two teams for which Turner played, announced his death.

Turner played professional football for 16 years with the Jets from 1964 to 1970 and the Broncos from 1971 to 1979. York Giants kicker Ali Haji-Sheikh broke the first and Washington Redskins kicker Mark Mosley broke the second.

His success was partly enabled by his endurance: he did not miss any of his career 228 regular-season games and eight playoff games.

The most memorable game of Turner’s career was the Jets’ face-off against the Baltimore Colts on the afternoon of January 12, 1969.

The Colts belonged to the older and better established National Football League, while the Jets were part of its upstart competitor, the American Football League. The Super Bowl, first held in 1967, pitted the best team from each league against the other.

The Colts, led by quarterback Johnny Unitas and coach Don Shula, The winners of the previous two Super Bowls had defeated the powerhouse Green Bay Packers to qualify for the 1969 championship.

While Unitas and Shula epitomized the tough masculinity that many football fans associated with, Namath, the Jets quarterback, nicknamed Broadway Joe, was a figure of loud-mouthed swagger, and none of his public comments were ever less credible than his guarantees It seemed that the Jets would become the first AFL team to win the Super Bowl by defeating the Colts.

Namath played well – completing 17 of 28 passes for 206 yards, earning him the Most Valuable Player award – but it was Turner, a decidedly Off Broadway figure, who was the decisive player. He provided the Jets with their margin of victory and single-handedly scored more points than the Colts.

Turner made his biggest impact in the third quarter. The Jets won 7–0, but controlled the ball for three minutes. Turner kicked two field goals from about 30 yards apart, making the score 13–0.

In the fourth quarter, the Colts’ defense stopped the Jets around the 2-yard line. At the time, the goal posts were on the goal line rather than in the back of the end zone, making the kick a 9-yard chip shot.

Turner told The Herald Journal News of Utah in 2013, “It’s one of the hardest kicks I’ve ever done.”

He also established a record (tied by Mike Clark of the Dallas Cowboys in 1971) for fewest field goals in Super Bowl history.

He missed two other field goals during the game, but it didn’t matter. The Colts, hampered by Unitas’ injury and a strong Jets defense, scored only once on a 1-yard run by running back Jerry Hill.

Namath’s prediction came true, and the Jets won 16–7.

James Baird Turner was born on March 28, 1941, in Crockett, a small town outside San Francisco. His parents were Bethel and Baird Turner. He played football at Utah State and began his career with the Jets in 1964.

That same year, he met Mary Kay Roettger at a swimming pool in Crockett. He proposed to her 10 days later, just before the Jets held training camp. They married in 1965.

She is survived by her daughters, Lisa, Chris, and Alison; his brothers, Paul, Eddie and Jack; his sister, Pat; and eight grandchildren.

Turner was traded to the Broncos in 1971 amid a contract dispute with the Jets. He settled in the Denver area and hosted a sports radio talk show there in later years.

His most prominent appearance in the national media came in 1969, when he made the cover of Sports Illustrated as a representative of the new influence of dedicated place-kickers in football. He credited his team’s overall strategy, and Namath in particular, for the key role he played on the Jets.

“A lot of people criticize us for going after field goals when we’re stuck inside the 35,” he said. “But we can do that because we have the luxury of a good defence. Who knows this ball will come back to him very fast and give us another shot for seven. Of course, that makes me a lot better. , getting all those efforts.”