New York Jets

Super Bowl III 1969  "Jim Hudson"
(Game Worn)

With no scholarship limitations other than those imposed by budgetary restraints, the major collegiate powers of the 1960’s typically gobbled up as many of the best players they could, if only to avoid having them as opponents over their three years of varsity eligibility. The University Of Texas among other schools, was renown for this and the high school football class of 1960 provided a bevy of stars, some of whom would see little playing time due to the glut of talent at some specific positions. The Class 2A Champions of Bellville High School featured the state’s best running back, Ernie Koy who went on to a stellar career at Texas after pounding out 4433 career rushing yards at Bellville. Waco High School’s George Sauer and Jacksonville’s Peter Lammons were among the best receivers and both signed with the Longhorns. Among quarterbacks, Marvin Kristynik from Mount Vernon, former site of Don Meredith’s great high school triumphs, and James Hudson of La Feria threw their lot in with the “Horns. The Texas varsity teams that Hudson played on in 1962, ’63, and ’64 with their vast array of two and three-deep talent, compiled 9-1-1, 11-0, and 10-1 records respectively and won the 1963 National Championship. Hudson and Kristynik both filled two-way spots on the roster, roaming the defensive backfield as safeties and manning the quarterback position. Neither were the “big guns” in Darrell Royal’s arsenal, not with Koy, Phil Harris, Tommy Ford, Scott Appleton, and a decent linebacker named Tommy Nobis getting the headlines. Hudson, though born in Steubenville, Ohio, fit in well with the football crazy environment of Texas, even the less populated, southernmost area where La Feria and Brownsville are located. At Texas, the talented and versatile Hudson was a standout defender and adequate quarterback, eventually facing off against Joe Namath and number-one ranked Alabama in the January 1, 1965 Orange Bowl.

Sharing both the defensive and offensive positions almost from their arrival at Texas, Kristynik and Hudson closed their collegiate careers the same way. Taking an early lead over the Crimson Tide behind Kristynik’s offensive leadership, Texas bolted to a 14-0 spread, with Hudson contributing a sixty-nine yard bomb to Sauer. Namath brought “Bama back masterfully and almost won the contest, but he was stopped on the one yard line on a fourth down dive by the great Nobis, sealing the 21-17 win for Texas. In a twist of irony, four of the Longhorns would join Namath on the Jets for the following season and through the Super Bowl; ends George Sauer and Pete Lammons, defensive tackle John Elliott, and the do-it-all Hudson who finished that Orange Bowl having completed four of thirteen passes for 101 yards. With those statistics, Hudson obviously wasn’t going to threaten Namath or the Jets’ other quarterback draftee, Heisman Trophy winner John Huarte of Notre Dame so he realized that his pro future was in the defensive backfield.  His pro career was unspectacular but solid, a starter on Jets squads that were building as the league and city adapted to the ongoing saga of Broadway Joe Namath. Hudson and Namath became friends which occasionally brought the Texan a mention in the newspaper. His fourteen interceptions over his pro career, which lasted from 1965 through ’70 certainly didn’t bring the news hounds to his locker, nor his special teams work but in the Jets finest hour, Hudson stood out.

In what was the pivotal Super Bowl confrontation in history, Hudson and the Jets prepared to face off against the NFL’s Baltimore Colts after the 1968 season. Hudson was in the news, not for any of the eighty-five tackles he was in on during the 1968 season, but again as an adjunct to Namath. The two players joined the Colts’ Lou Michaels and Dan Sullivan for dinner a few evenings prior to the game and the evening ended as Michaels and Namath got into an argument. The infamous exchange ended with Namath emphatically stating that the Jets would win and the news reports noted Hudson as the witness to the outrageous prediction. In the course of the game, one of the most famous sequences that highlighted the Colts’ abysmal failure to tame the loquacious Namath and the upstart Jets, shows a frustrated Jimmy Orr, wide open and waving to capture the attention of Baltimore quarterback Earl Morrall as the first half was ending. With a sure touchdown in hand, Morrall instead, heaved the ball elsewhere. It was a play that the Jets were prepared for although in practice, they could not prevent their own offense from completing the play, even when specifically defending it. Still, Hudson immediately recognized the play as it was developing. “When Matte (Colts’ halfback) got the handoff and swept right, I went for the play as a run…But as soon as I saw Matte stop, I knew what the play was and I went back to cover Jerry Hill.” The play was a toss to the halfback Matte who threw back to quarterback Morrall who then completed the flea-flicker by tossing to what he hoped would be an open receiver. Orr was in fact, completely open but Morrall instead tried to throw to fullback Hill and that’s where Hudson earned his Super Bowl moment in the sun. Pressured by Hudson’s Texas teammate Elliott, Morrall perhaps threw early but the quarterback gave full credit to Hudson, stating “Hudson was covering to the outside and he reacted immediately. He raced across and played the ball real well to make the interception. It was a good play by Hudson” and perhaps his most famous as it is featured in every film and program about Super Bowl history. Hudson’s career continued after that epic game, though he was limited in his final season by what the media termed “creaky knees.” With his mobility reduced, the development of young defensive backs Earlie Thomas and Steve Tannen, and the excellent play of W.K. Hicks who intercepted eight passes in ‘70 after being obtained from the Oilers, Hudson called it quits going into the 1971 season. Settling into a successful career in real estate in the Austin, Texas area, Hudson remains a hero to both Longhorns and Jets fans.