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Former New York Jets coach Walt Michaels dies at 89

By Connor Grott
Former New York Jets coach Walt Michaels dies at 89
Walt Michaels (C) was the head coach of the New York Jets for six seasons. He also served as defensive coordinator for the franchise's only Super Bowl team. Photo courtesy of New York Jets/Official Website

July 11 (UPI) -- Former New York Jets head coach Walt Michaels, who also served as defensive coordinator for the franchise's only Super Bowl-winning team, died at age 89.

The team announced Michaels' death Thursday. The coach died Wednesday, six years to the day after his wife, Betty, died.

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"We are very sad to hear about the passing of Walt Michaels," Jets CEO Christopher Johnson said. "Walt was a great leader who inspired players to take their games to another level. A defensive mastermind, he had one of his finest moments when he coordinated our unit in the Super Bowl III victory over the Colts.

"Later as a head coach, Walt led us to back-to-back playoff berths in 1981-82. Walt had a tireless work ethic and took an honest approach with his players. He will have a lasting impact on our organization and our thoughts and condolences go out to his family and friends."

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Michaels played in the NFL for 12 seasons as a five-time Pro Bowl linebacker. The Cleveland Browns selected him in the seventh round of the 1951 draft but traded the defender to the Green Bay Packers before the start of the season.

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Michaels played for the Packers, Browns and Jets from 1951 to 1963. He won two championships with the Browns in 1954 and 1955.

As his playing career began to end, Michaels served as an assistant coach with the Oakland Raiders in 1962. Then, he joined the Jets as their defensive coordinator from 1963 to 1973.

Michaels coached with the Philadelphia Eagles from 1973 to 1975 before returning to the Jets. He went 39-47-1 in six seasons as New York's head coach between 1977 and 1982, which included a trip to the AFC Championship Game after the strike-shortened 1982 campaign.

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