Memories of Richard Todd

Michael David Smith, writer extraordinaire of FanHouse, ProFootballTalk and Football Outsiders to name just a few was kind enough to write a guest post for TJB this week.  In this post, MDS looks back at Richard Todd.

The game is now more than a quarter century old, so there’s a whole generation of Jets fans who didn’t see it. But Richard Todd’s performance in the AFC Championship in January of 1983 was mentioned this week at the Pro Football Reference blog as the second-worst playoff game any quarterback has ever had, and that got me thinking about my own memories of Todd, who was the Jets’ first-round draft pick in 1976 and their starting quarterback for most of the next eight years.

First, there’s that AFC Championship, and yes, he was terrible. Beyond terrible. He finished the game 15-of-37 for 103 yards, with five interceptions, as the Jets lost 14-0. Dolphins linebacker A.J. Duhe had three interceptions and sealed the game with an interception return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter. If you’re a Jets fan and you don’t remember that game, consider yourself lucky.

But there are some extenuating circumstances, most notably that there was a rain storm in Miami and the geniuses running the grounds crew at the Orange Bowl didn’t cover the field before the game, meaning both teams were playing on mud, and both quarterbacks were throwing a wet ball. It’s telling that Dolphins quarterback David Woodley’s performance in that game is also on Pro Football Reference’s list of the worst quarterback games in playoff history.

And putting that game aside, when I look back on the Richard Todd era (which I saw through the eyes of a very young child), I always think that he got something of a bum rap. Yes, he led the league in interceptions in 1980, and yes, he once shoved Steve Serby into a locker.  He wasn’t a great player or a saint. But he did start every game in 1981 and 1982 and help get the Jets into the playoffs both seasons, after they hadn’t gotten into the postseason once in the 1970s.

He was also one of the few NFL players who understood the economics of the game in the 1970s and 1980s. Todd had the foresight to vote against the disastrous 1982 players’ strike, which accomplished nothing for the players except costing them seven game checks, and in the early 1980s he negotiated his own contract, without an agent — a contract that made him one of the highest-paid players in the league.

Overall, although Todd was far from a superstar, and although that terrible AFC Championship game was his signature moment, my memories of him are mostly positive. What about yours?


todd  was  not  the  best  .....  but  my  memories  are  of him  pretty  positive  he  had  inherited  a  jets  team  that  was  abysma1  and  rep1acing  joe  Namath  wasn't  any  sma11  feat  he  did  get  a  bad  rap  some  of  his  best  games  ended  in  defeat  but  it was  how  he  p1ayed  i11 a1ways  remember  in  1977  the  jets  near1y  missed  beating  the  stee1ers  with  todd    near1y  eakin  out  a  victory 23  to  20  he hooked  up  many  times  with  wonderfu1  wes1y  wa1ker  we  had  a  banner  yr  in  78  then  in  wk  3    todd  sustained  a  broken  c1avec1e    against  Washington  and  we  1ost  23  to  3  todd  was  a  gun s1inger  he  had  an  arm but  consider  the  way  the  defenses  p1ayed  back  then  and  back  then  it  wasn't  the  west  coast  as  it  is  now it  was  pure  footba11  basics  s1ing  the  ba11  it  wasn't  as  much  about  game  management  as  it  is  now  ,todd  was  a  good  qb   not  great  but  he  had  a  1ot  to   prove  rep1acing  joe  wi11ie  and  that' was  hard to  do  and  as  an  a1abama  fan   I  1iked him  cuz  he  came  from  the  same  schoo1  as  Namath todd  got  a  bad  rap  for  not  winning  the  crucia1  games  a1though  e  had  success  against  in  the  strike  shortened 82  season  .beating  the  benga1s  and  raiders  on1y  to  1ose  in  miam1  due  to  poor  groundskeeping   making  our  recievers  unab1e  to  get  an  advantage  on  ther breaks  and  cuts  think  about  this  ..the  fina1  score  was  14  to  0  meaning  it  was  a  defensive  gamep1ay  that  on  dry  fei1d    think  the  jets  wou1d  have  had  more  points  and  todd  throws for  300  yrds  and  maybe  1  int  c1osing I  be1ieve  he  deserves  more  credit  than  what  he  got 


  1. […] Michael David Smith, writer extraordinaire of FanHouse , ProFootballTalk and Football Outsiders to name just a few was kind enough to write a guest post for TJB this week. […]