Hofstra alum and NY Jets Super Bowl champ Mike D’Amato, 80, dies


Hofstra football great Mike D’Amato — a member of the New York Jets only Super Bowl-winning team — has died. He was 80 years old.

The university’s athletic department announced earlier today that D’Amato passed away on Nov. 22. At Hofstra, D’Amato was a standout on the football and lacrosse teams.

Picked in the 10th round of the 1968 draft by the Jets, D’Amato was a defensive back and played in 13 games for New York, who defeated the heavily favored Baltimore Colts 16-7 in Super Bowl III that season. In the photo above, No. 47 D’Amato celebrates New York’s historic win with Jets coach Weeb Eubank, a victory famously guaranteed by New York’s quarterback Joe Namath.

At Hofstra, the Brooklyn native was a defensive back and a kick and punt returner for Hofstra Hall of Fame coach Howdy Myers, Hofstra noted in its announcement. He was a Middle Atlantic Conference All-Star in 1966 and 1967, recording three interceptions and averaging 23.3 yards per kickoff return.

Myers called D’Amato, a two-time captain on the grid iron, “the finest defensive back he has ever coached,” the university reported today.

D’Amato also played for Myers on Hofstra’s lacrosse team. An attack man, he was a second team All-American as a senior in 1968 after leading Hofstra with 34 goals and 15 assists, Hofstra said.

In addition to playing for the Jets, D’Amato played one season in the Canadian Football League for the Montreal Alouettes.

After retiring from football, D’Amato spent 27 years as an executive of Transleisure companies, serving as vice president for sales and marketing, the university said. In 1998, he returned to Hofstra as executive assistant to the president, and went on to serve as vice president for development for five years until taking the position of special assistant to the president for alumni affairs.

Hofstra reported that D’Amato was actively in the Hofstra Pride Club, as well as with the Marty Lyons Foundation, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Carlin/Rudolph Endowed Scholarship Committee, the Joe Namath March of Dimes Golf Tournament Committee, the National Football League Retired Players Association and NFL Alumni Association. 

He is survived by his wife, Rita; sons, Michael and Gregg; daughter, Susan; their spouses; four grandchildren; and his brother, Richard.

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