Born (1941-08-18) August 18, 1941 (age 78)
Garfield, Georgia
Position(s)Running Back
CollegeOhio State
AFL Draft1964 / Round 1 (Jets)
NFL Draft1964 / Round 4 (Giants)
Jersey #(s)41
Career highlights
TSN All-AFL1969
AFL All-Star1964, 1966, 1969
HonorsAmerican Football League Champion, 1968
World Champion, 1968 season
* Pro Football Reference
AFL New York Jets
NFL New York Jets

Matt Snell (born August 18, 1941 in Garfield, Georgia) was the American Football League's New York Jets owner Sonny Werblin's first coup, prior to his 1965 acquisition of Joe Namath. A powerful fullback out of Ohio State University, Snell's 1964 signing jolted the crosstown Giants, who didn't draft Snell until the fourth round, and offered him a fraction of what the Jets gave him as their first-round choice.

Snell currently lives in New Rochelle, New York with his wife Sharon, son Beau and daughter Jada. He is a partner in DEFCO Securities, Inc. and owns a restaurant in New York City.[1]

Early careerEdit

Snell attended Carle Place High School (The Frogs) in the one-square mile town of Carle Place, New York, where his picture resides in the Carle Place High School Athletic Hall of Fame. At Carle Place he played right halfback on a team that only lost 2 games while he started. He was awarded Newsday's 1959 Thorp Award awarded annually to the outstanding high school football player in Nassau County as a running back.

Upon graduation, at Ohio State, Snell was a three-year starter and a consummate team player. In 1961 he was a right halfback, with responsibilities typically of blocking for fullback Bob Ferguson or left halfback Paul Warfield. In 1962 he was moved to defensive end. In 1963, his senior year, he was named starting fullback, making him the featured running back in the Ohio State offense. At the end of his senior season, Snell was named his team's most valuable player.

Snell was named to the Ohio State Football All-Century Team in 2000, as a defensive end.

Football careerEdit

In his rookie year, Snell rushed for a Jets record 180 yards against the Houston Oilers, on his way to a 945-yard season and AFL Rookie of the Year honors. Snell went on to become an AFL Eastern Division All-Star in 1964 and 1966 and the Sporting News All-AFL fullback in 1969.

His defining moment came in Super Bowl III when the AFL Champion Jets played the 1968 NFL Champion Baltimore Colts. Although slowed by knee injuries, Snell was the key player in the Jets ball-control offense during the 16-7 upset of the Colts. He carried 30 times for a then Super Bowl record 121 yards, and in the second quarter, went 4 yards around the left end to score the Jets' only touchdown in super bowl history. It was the first time an AFL team had led in a Super Bowl. He also helped set up a trio of Jim Turner field goals that finally put the game away for the Jets in the second half, securing the first AFL win over the NFL.

During his career, Snell was well known for his rushing, but also became an important part of the Jet's Pass Blocking scheme. Towards the end of his career, he became one of the early 3rd down backs, primarily because he was so good at protecting Joe Namath. He was also reported to have helped teach pass blocking to Jets running backs during his career.

In 1973 Snell was in the first Miller Lite beer commercial. According to the SF Chronicle, "The campaign would feature a collection of middle-aged sports stars and become something of a status symbol for retired athletes for the next 17 years."[1]

See alsoEdit



  • Curran, Bob (1965). The $400,000 Quarterback, or: The League That Came in From the Cold. New York, New York: McMillan & Company, Inc. ISBN 0-8118-2276-1.
  • Gruver, Ed (1997). The American Football League: A Year-By-Year History, 1960-1969. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc. ISBN 0-7864-0399-3.

External linksEdit

Preceded by
Billy Armstrong
Ohio State Buckeyes
Football Season MVP

Succeeded by
Ed Orazen
Preceded by
Billy Joe
American Football League
Rookie of the Year

Succeeded by
Joe Namath
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