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Former New York Jets coach Joe Walton dies at 85

New York Jets
Jul 31, 2021; Florham Park, NJ, USA; A general view of a New York Jets helmet on the field during training camp at Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Former New York Jets head football coach Joe Walton died Sunday at the age of 85.

Walton coached the Jets for seven seasons in the 1980s and Robert Morris University for 20 seasons from 1994-2013.

Walton grew up in Pennsylvania and attended Pitt, where he played tight end and was a unanimous All-American in 1956.

He was drafted 14th overall in the 1957 NFL Draft and played seven seasons in the NFL, four with Washington and three with the New York Giants.

His coaching career began in 1969 as the wide receivers coach for the Giants. He was an assistant with the Giants and with Washington before the Jets hired him as their offensive coordinator in 1981.

“He was my coach, and my friend,” Hall of Famer and former Washington quarterback Joe Theismann tweeted Sunday. “He taught me how to play QB at the pro level. He touched so many lives whether it was in pro ball or at the college level.”

After two years as an offensive coordinator in New York, the Jets named him head coach to replace Walt Michaels. From 1983-1989, Walton led the Jets to the playoffs twice and finished with a 53-57-1 record.

He also worked as the Pittsburgh Steelers offensive coordinator for two seasons from 1990-1991.

Walton was hired by FCS Robert Morris to be its first ever football coach in 1993, building the program in his image. He coached the Colonials to six conference titles in 20 years — including a perfect 10-0 campaign in 2000 — and finished with a 115-92-1 record. In 2005, the school opened its new football venue: Joe Walton Stadium.

“Coach Walton took our football program from nothing to something special,” Robert Morris senior associate athletic director Marty Galosi said in a statement. “The fact that he built it from scratch and won early on was a bonus. He was a great coach, but he was a better man as well as a role model for all of the student-athletes and coaches that were under his tutelage. His legacy at RMU will last a long time.”

–Field Level Media