Jets Coach Greg Knapp Dies, Those Close to Him Share Their Favorite Stories

Greg Knapp Falcons

Getty Coach Greg Knapp enjoying a conversation on the sideline with Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan.

Longtime NFL coach, Greg Knapp, has reportedly passed away at the age of 58 following injuries from a horrific bicycle accident.

Knapp was struck by a single motorist at a busy intersection according to the San Ramon Police Department via Rich Cimini of ESPN.

The tragic news was first reported by Fox 5 Sports in Atlanta and was later confirmed by Chicago Bears tight end coach Clancy Barone, a “great friend” of Knapps’ for over 40 years.

Barone and Knapp were former college teammates during their time together at Sacramento State. Throughout their NFL careers, they spent time with one another including winning Super Bowl 50 as members of the Denver Broncos coaching staff.

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Detailing the Amazing Journey

After finishing up his time at Sacramento State as a player, he transitioned into a coaching gig. He held a variety of different roles from 1986 through 1994 as a running backs coach, wide receiver coach, and ultimately ascended to being the offensive coordinator and assistant head coach.

After developing his skills at the college game, Knapp was ready to make the NFL leap in 1995 and he never looked back.

The veteran coach would end up spending the next 26 years of his life at the professional level at seven different locations including two stints with the Atlanta Falcons and the then Oakland Raiders respectively.

Most recently he was set to enter his 26th season in the pros as a member of the Jets’ coaching staff, 22 of which were spent as an offensive coordinator or quarterbacks coach.

“I was super fortunate to be coached by him,” NFL Analyst and former quarterback Dan Orlovsky on ESPN. “Knapper embodies everything that an assistant coach should. The joy of investing in your players. He was a coach that first made me feel like that I belong. He’s so well respected in the league and his family is in our thoughts and prayers.”

Stories From People Who Knew Him Best

Shortly after the tragic news made its’ way around social media, I reached out to several people around the league that had the opportunity to work with and alongside him.

When I asked those that worked with him what stood out to them, I continued to receive the same message, “a nice guy that always took the time for me if I had a question.”

Knapp had a “genuine love for the game” and planned on coaching another decade. Benjamin Allbright, who covers the Broncos for KOA Colorado, said coach Knapp was an “integral part” of the team’s Super Bowl championship team:

  • In 2013 they set a variety of records with an offense headed by Pro Football Hall of Famer Peyton Manning.
  • Although during the 2015 season, Manning wasn’t the same player due to a variety of injury issues. Those setbacks caused him to miss six games and Knapp was a key cog in getting the other quarterbacks ready, primarily Brock Osweiler, which led to football immortality.

One of Knapp’s most attractive traits was his positive attitude that was infectious to everyone around him. Kelsey Conway, Atlanta Falcons team reporter, shared something that stood out to her during their time together from 2018 through 2020:

“A consistently happy person. No matter what time of the day, what the circumstances were, Greg Knapp was always the person if you saw him in the hall who would interact with you and say hello. He was truly one of the nicest people I have ever met and there wasn’t a single person in the building who didn’t like and respect him.”

From everyone I spoke with Knapp just seemed to have a zest for life and the passion for his players is what drove him to keep coaching year after year.

While he accomplished a lot of incredible things on the football field, Knapp was “an even better man, father, and husband to his family and those around him.”

Jeff Sperbeck, Greg Knapp’s agent, confirmed the news in a statement saying the veteran coach was “called back home to Heaven where he will be reunited with his dad.”

After being struck by a car on Saturday, July 17 Knapp was “rendered unconscious immediately and never regained consciousness.”

He is survived by his wife Charlotte and three daughters (Camille, Natalie, and Jordan).

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