One of my favorite moments of this never-a-dull-moment Jets season happened just before it got started at our annual kickoff luncheon. The Green & White honored our colorful radio color man, Marty Lyons, and well done, too, as Lyons really can be considered what it means to be a Jet.
Everybody loves Marty. The fans flock to him. Elderly women swoon and ask for a hug from the gentle giant. Kids run across the parking lot at the stadium to have him toss a ball to them. Heck, I’ve seen dogs run across the parking lot to have him toss a ball to them, but that might just be their thing.
No, come to think of it, Marty’s always got time for everyone, no matter how furry. Marty’s been The Man ever since being selected 14th overall in the 1979 draft out of Alabama. Playing at defensive end and defensive tackle, he became the CEO of the fabled New York Sack Exchange, terrorizing opponents and helping to push the team to the 1982 AFC Championship Game. His career stretched from 1979-89 with 135 starts by No. 93, always a leader and usually the spark.
While Marty provided many great plays on the field, it is off the field that he truly has been an inspiration. He established the Marty Lyons Foundation in 1982 to fulfill the special wishes of children aged 3 to 17 who have been diagnosed with terminal or life-threatening illnesses. They’ve helped with everything from renovating a home to allow the child to stay with their family in comfort to Disney trips, celebrity visits and a chance to swim with dolphins — the good kind, not the ones that play down in Miami. But I’m sure that he would help make that happen, too, if it was a child’s dream.
At the kickoff luncheon, Marty delighted the packed house at Cipriani Wall Street with funny stories and touching anecdotes about his involvement in the community. He was the same way you’ve no doubt heard him on the air each week and possibly seen him hold court at countless golf outings, kids clinics and team functions. For a guy once flagged for giving Jim Kelly “The Business,” he’s actually a pretty straight shooter who’s fun, funny, welcoming and humble and someone I’m thrilled to call my friend.
With all that in mind, here are some of My Favorite Martys, some photos I’ve taken and many gathered from our archives. Hope you enjoy the view!
Tags: kickoff luncheon, Marty Lyons, Marty Lyons Foundation, Sack Exchange
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