Former Jets O-linemen Powell, 67, and Sweeney, 60, die
Former longtime New York Jets offensive linemen Marvin Powell and Jim Sweeney died this week, the team announced Sunday.
Powell was a three-time All-Pro at right tackle and served as president of the NFL Players Association for two years during his 11-year NFL career, the first nine with the Jets. He died Friday, the Jets said. Powell was 67.
Sweeney was one of the Jets’ most durable players, starting 158 consecutive games during an 11-year stretch with the team, mostly at center. He died Saturday, the Jets said. Sweeney was 60.
The two were teammates with the Jets during the 1984 and ’85 seasons.
Powell, a member of the College Football Hall of Fame, was drafted by the Jets as the No. 4 overall pick in 1977 out of USC. He won a starting job as a rookie and became one of the franchise’s best and most-decorated players, selected to the Pro Bowl five straight seasons from 1979-83. Powell was an All-Pro in 1979, ’81 and ’82.
Powell was also selected the Jets’ MVP by his teammates in 1979.
“Marvin was one of the best linemen I’ve ever seen,” former Jets wide receiver Wesley Walker told the team’s website. “He was just a physical specimen. He was just good. I just loved him.”
Powell played his last two seasons with Tampa Bay, finishing with 130 starts in 133 games.
Powell was also one of the league’s most respected players while serving as a player union rep, then was elected as vice president of the NFLPA before serving as president two years. The Fort Bragg, North Carolina, native worked as an intern at the New York Stock Exchange and earned his law degree from New York Law School in 1987.
Powell’s son Marvin III played nine games as a fullback for New Orleans in 1999.
Sweeney was a second-round pick out of Pittsburgh — where he was Dan Marino’s center — in 1984 and started two games as a rookie. The Pittsburgh native started every game at left guard in his second season, then moved to left tackle for two seasons before becoming the Jets’ center in 1988 — a role he held for seven years.
His versatility and toughness made him one of the team’s most valuable players. It also earned him the respect of teammates and opponents.
“Jim was a typical Pittsburgh guy,” former teammate and current team radio analyst Marty Lyons told the team’s website. “He was tough — he was tough to practice against every day. You could count on him every single Sunday.
“He had a different personality as soon as he crossed over the lines, though. Hard-nosed, tough football player, a loving, caring friend off the field.”
Sweeney started every game for Seattle in 1995 and wrapped up his 16-year career by playing four seasons with his hometown Steelers. He played in 228 games, including 176 starts.
Sweeney got into coaching after his playing days, serving as an assistant at Duquesne and Albany. He also was an assistant at the high school level in the Pittsburgh suburbs for eight years.
Sweeney is survived by his wife Julie and their five children: Shannon, Liam, Aislinn, Kilian and Teagan.
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