The New York Jets have only won a single Super Bowl in the franchise’s long history and the championship season occurred from 1968 to 1969.
The glorious run ended on January 12, 1969, when Joe Namath famously led his team in an underdog victory over the Baltimore Colts. Unfortunately, a key member of that 1969 Super Bowl team has died.
ESPN beat reporter Rich Cimini relayed the news on June 4: “Former Jets guard Bob Talamini, who played one year for the team and wound up starting in SB III, died on May 30, the Jets announced today. He was 83. He was an all-star with the Houston Oilers, then made an immediate impact with the Jets. He retired after the Super Bowl. RIP.”
The cause of death is unknown at this time.
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Recognizing ‘the Missing Piece’
The New York Jets website was the first to reveal the death of Talamini in an article from team contributor Randy Lange.
Labeled “the missing piece to the Jets’ Super Bowl III puzzle” by Lange based on a quote from Jets public relations director Frank Ramos, Talamini’s NYJ career was brief yet eventful. “The players felt [Talamini] was the answer for the ground and passing games and it proved true,” explained Ramos via Lange.
Broadway Joe agreed, voicing multiple times in interviews that the Jets would not have won a championship without the three-time All-Pro guard (All-Pro years were with the Houston Oilers).
“Bob was a gift from the football gods,” Namath told New York Post reporter Steve Serby. “That was one of the greatest moves Weeb Ewbank ever made, getting Bob to come out of retirement and join our team in ’68. The playoff game, the championship game, being able to move Stack [Dave Herman] out to tackle, that only worked because we had Bob Talamini, able to play both sides of the offensive line himself. If it wasn’t for having Bob Talamini, we don’t win the championship.”
The legendary quarterback said something similar in a June 6 article from the Associated Press: “Without Talamini, we don’t win. Maybe we don’t even get there. But we don’t win without Bob Talamini.”
As for Talamini, he called the Jets “humble winners in a postgame interview back on January 12, 1969, and hoped that their championship would bring the AFL and NFL closer together. Based on history, I’d say the polished professional got his wish.
The 6-foot-1 “bull of a man” — according to Namath — retired after the Super Bowl victory. As his QB mentioned, he had come out of retirement to join the Jets prior to the 1968 season, after eight highly successful campaigns with the Oilers.
In total, Talamini started 113 out of 126 appearances and was a true ironman, never missing a game. To go along with those three All-Pros, the left guard was voted to the Pro Bowl six times.
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More on Talamini
Born in Louisville, Kentucky, Talamini ended up attending the University of Kentucky. He earned third-team All-SEC honors, according to Lange, before a second-round selection by the Oilers.
Jets offensive line coach — formerly of the Oilers — Joe Spencer recommended Ewbank pursue the guard after contract negotiations went awry in Houston, and they were able to get a deal done to bring Talamini back onto the field for one more run. All it cost was a third-round pick, which is nothing compared to a championship title.
The guard moved back to Houston after his retirement where he worked as a financial planner.
Lange noted that the “devoted family man” is survived by “Mary, his wife of 41 years, as well as sister Nancy, children Robin, Bob Jr., Tina, Tony, John, Juliana and Migné, 14 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren. He is also survived by his first wife and mother of four of his children, Charlene.”
The funeral was scheduled for Monday, June 6, at 10 a.m. Mountain time at Saint Albert The Great Newman Center in Las Cruces. You can also attend the service virtually at getzfuneralhome.com (streaming services button at the top of the main menu).
Per Lange: “By the family’s request, donations in Bob’s memory may be directed to the Animal Rescue League of El Paso, TX, or to a charity of your choice.”