The Jets said Thursday that Michaels died Wednesday. The team did not immediately provide a cause or location. The New York Times said Michaels died at a nursing home in Plains, Pennsylvania.
The former Cleveland Browns linebacker was the defensive coordinator of the Jets' Super Bowl-winning team in the 1968 season. He was head coach from 1977-82, going 39-47-1 and making the playoffs in the 1981-82 seasons. The Jets reached the AFC title game after the 1982 season before losing to the Miami Dolphins in a rain-soaked Orange Bowl.
He later coached the New Jersey Generals of the USFL for two years in 1984-85.
"We are very sad to hear about the passing of Walt Michaels. Walt was a great leader who inspired players to take their games to another level," Jets CEO Christopher Johnson said in a statement.
"A defensive mastermind, he had one of his finest moments when he coordinated our unit in the Super Bowl III victory over the Colts. Later as a head coach, Walt led us to back-to-back playoff berths in 1981-82. Walt had a tireless work ethic and took an honest approach with his players. He will have a lasting impact on our organization and our thoughts and condolences go out to his family and friends."
Michaels starred as a fullback and linebacker at Washington and Lee University and was a seventh-round draft pick of the Browns in 1951. He was a five-time Pro Bowl player and helped the Browns reach five NFL title games, winning championships in 1954 and 1955.
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