‘Outstanding’ Former Jets Linemen Marvin Powell and Jim Sweeney Dead

‘Outstanding’ Former Jets Linemen Marvin Powell and Jim Sweeney Dead
Jim Sweeney (R) of the New York Jets in action during a game against the Cleveland Browns in 1989. (Rick Stewart/AllsportJim via Getty Images); Sweeney of the Seattle Seahawks during a game in San Francisco, Calif., on Aug. 26, 1995. (Otto Greule/Allsport via Getty Images)

Former “longtime and outstanding” New York Jets offensive linemen Marvin Powell and Jim Sweeney died last week, the team announced on Oct. 2.

Powell, a right tackle named first-team All-Pro three times in a career that spanned from the late 1970s through the mid-’80s, died on Sept. 30 at the age of 67, according to a press release published on the team’s website.

“Marvin was one of the best linemen I’ve ever seen,” said former Jets wide receiver Wesley Walker upon hearing of Powell’s passing. “He was just a physical specimen. He was just good. I just loved him.”

Sweeney, an offensive lineman drafted in the second round out of Pittsburgh by the Jets in 1984 who has been described by the team as one of the most durable players during an 11-year stretch with the Jets, died on Oct. 1, the team said in a separate press release. He was 60.

“Jim has to be one of the toughest players in Jets history,” said Frank Ramos, the Jets’s longtime public relations director. “He was really a good technical player, so tough, and he was a great leader. And he was a fun guy to be around, so well-liked by his teammates.”

The two were teammates with the Jets during the 1984 and 1985 seasons.

The Jets did not divulge a cause of death for either Powell or Sweeney.

Jets co-owner, Woody Johnson, said on Twitter that the entire team “is saddened to learn of the passing of longtime and outstanding” Powell and Sweeney.

Powell started 123 of the 124 games in which he played for the Jets, who selected him as the No. 4 overall pick in the 1977 NFL Draft out of Southern California.

He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1994 and was one of the franchise’s best and most-decorated players, selected to the Pro Bowl five straight seasons from 1979–83, according to the Jets’s release. Powell was also an All-Pro in 1979, 1981, and 1982.

Ramos said Powell was one of the “first building blocks” of Walt Michaels, Powell’s first Jets head coach. Michaels called him “the strongest player on the squad” after the 1978 season.

Powell played his last two seasons, in 1986 and 1987, with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, finishing with 130 starts in 133 games.

Sweeney started his career with the Jets at left guard, while later moving to left tackle for two seasons before becoming the team’s center in 1988—a role he held for seven years.

His versatility and toughness made him one of the team’s most valuable players. It also earned him the respect of teammates and opponents.

“Jim was a typical Pittsburgh guy,” former teammate and current team radio analyst Marty Lyons told the team’s website. “He was tough—he was tough to practice against every day. You could count on him every single Sunday.”

Sweeney started every game for the Seattle Seahawks in 1995 and wrapped up his 16-year career by playing four seasons with his hometown, the Pittsburgh Steelers.

After his playing days, he got into coaching, serving as an assistant at Duquesne and Albany. He also was an assistant at the high school level in the Pittsburgh suburbs for eight years.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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