Pawtucket native Gerry Philbin developed a case of laryngitis earlier this week during the hectic two days that preceded his induction into the New York Jets’ Ring of Honor on Monday night.
“We were really busy,” Philbin said on Wednesday afternoon from Miami, where he is recuperating at the Fountainbleau Hotel. “We arrived in New York on Sunday. The Jets put us up at the Sheraton Hotel and Towers in the city. I had my family, my sons and grand kids, nephews and nieces with me. The Jets put on a big breakfast for us at 9 in the morning on Monday. The owner, Woody Johnson, was there, congratulating us on our careers as Jets.
“Then we did a bunch of interviews after breakfast,” said Philbin, who shared the Ring of Honor distinction with former teammate Larry Grantham and two younger ex-Jets, Al Toon and Freeman McNeil. “I started to lose my voice by then. We left for the stadium at 4:15 and did a bunch more interviews once we got there.
“Joe Namath and Winston Hill, two of my old teammates, were there. Joe was great. He was fantastic, in fact. He talked to everybody’s family, signed autographs, did everything he could to make us feel comfortable.
“After the interviews, we went outside and met with the fans on a stage they had set up for us in the parking lot,” Philbin added. “We got to thank the Jets fans personally and yell ‘Let’s go, Jets’ with them. Then we went back up to Woody Johnson’s suite, which is just gorgeous. The Jets won the game, which was important, very important, to all of us. After the game, the Jets took us to Rosy O’Grady’s restaurant, where we celebrated and raised a glass to each other.”
During one of the press conferences, a reporter noted that even though sacks were not a recorded statistic during Philbin’s time in pro football, a study of old game films traced 19 sacks to Philbin during the 1968 season. The former Tolman High standout finished with 66 ½ sacks during his nine-year stint with the Jets, which still ranks him fourth all-time on the franchise list.
“I beat a lot of guys with my quickness and my spin move,” Philbin, who played at 240 pounds, told the reporters prior to Monday’s game. “Being smaller and faster than the offensive linemen helped me a lot.”
Philbin, who moved to Florida three months ago to be closer to his grandchildren, admits to being overwhelmed by his Ring of Honor selection and all that came with it.
“I just keep wanting to thank everyone who helped me in my career,” he said. “My family, my teammates, and the Jets fans ... I’ll never forget them.”