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Former Jets defensive lineman Paul “Rocky” Rochester dies at 81

New York Jets Pete Lammons (left), Paul (Rocky) Rochester and Joe Namath (right)

1968 New York Jets Super Bowl team’s get-together at the NFL Annual Alumni Golf Classic at Quaker Ridge Golf Club in Scarsdale, from left to right, Pete Lammons, Paul (Rocky) Rochester and Joe Namath. August 08, 1988. (Photo by Bob Olen/New York Post Archives /(c) NYP Holdings, Inc. via Getty Images)

The New York Post via Getty Imag

Former Jets defensive tackle Paul “Rocky” Rochester died last weekend, the team announced. He was 81 and would have turned 82 next month.

He joined the Dallas Texans of the new American Football League in 1960 as an undrafted free agent out of Michigan State. Rochester spent his first three-plus seasons with the franchise that would become the Kansas City Chiefs.

The Chiefs released him during the 1963 season, and he signed with the Jets. Rochester became the team’s starting left defensive tackle.

Rochester played 6 1/2 seasons for New York, ending his playing career by helping Joe Namath and the Jets win the franchise’s only Super Bowl title. He retired after Super Bowl III.

“Paul was an underrated defensive tackle who played a major role on the Jets’ Super Bowl championship team,” Frank Ramos, the Jets’ former public relations director, said, via the team’s website. “He was a great run stopper who enabled defensive ends Gerry Philbin and Verlon Biggs to rush from the outside and John Elliott, the quick defensive tackle, to rush up the middle.”

Rochester and his wife, Nancy, recently celebrated their 60th anniversary at their home in Jacksonville, Florida. He also is survived by his two children, Laurel Nielsen and Don, and two grandchildren.