Al Toon was one of the most gifted players in Jets history, but like every player other than the 45 or so members of the Super Bowl III team, he retired without winning a championship in the green and white.
But he still wears a Super Bowl ring.
Toon, a huge presence in the state of Wisconsin, is a member of the Packers' board of directors and received a ring when Green Bay won it all last season. The Packers, the only publicly-owned team in the NFL, asked Toon to join the board a couple of years ago and he considered it too much of an honor to turn down.
"It's a little strange to have a Packers ring," said Toon, one of four players to be inducted Monday night into the Jets' ring of honor. "Obviously, I'm honored by it. Clearly, it would've been greater to have a ring as a player."
Toon, Freeman McNeil, Larry Grantham and Gerry Philbin, all of whom will be honored Monday night at the Jets-Dolphins game, were made available Tuesday on conference calls. Some of the highlights:
• Grantham, a linebacker on the Super Bowl III team, said he's not surprised by Joe Namath's recent criticisms of the Jets.
"Joe has always been his own man and Joe has always said what Joe wanted to say and what he thought," Grantham said of his former teammate.
Philbin, another member of the Jets' only Super Bowl team, said, "I've read his opinions and I'll leave his opinions to Joe." For the record, Philbin said he likes Rex Ryan's coaching style and, unlike Namath, sees nothing wrong with building players' confidence instead of tearing them down.
• Philbin and Grantham recalled their memories of a young Ryan, whose father, Buddy, was a defensive assistant on the team. Grantham remembered Rex and Rob, his twin brother, as young boys watching Saturday practices at Shea Stadium. He said it was like a family day, with kids playing ball on the field after practice.
• McNeil reflected on the infamous Mud Bowl, the 1982 AFC Championship Game in which the Jets lost to the Dolphins on a muddy field that wasn't protected from an all-night rain. The Jets felt it was done deliberately by the Dolphins, and, yeah, McNeil still harbors some bitterness. It's the closest he got to a Super Bowl.
"To this day, you can't convince me it wasn't (real)," he said of the Dolphins' sabotage. "I don't know who to blame for it, but it certainly happened. We thought we got the wrong end of the stick ... We couldn't bring a Super Bowl home."
• Toon, who retired prematurely in 1992 because of post-concussion syndrome, said he has no lingering health issues. These days, he's busy following his son, Nick, a star receiver at Wisconsin. Toon thinks Nick has a chance to play in the NFL.