Bob Talamini, an offensive lineman on the New York Jets' Super Bowl-winning team in 1969 after eight seasons with the Houston Oilers, died May 30. He was 83.
Citing his family, the Jets announced Talamini's death on their website Saturday night. No cause of death was provided, but an obituary posted by the Getz Funeral Home in Las Cruces, New Mexico, said a service for Talamini would be held Monday at Saint Albert The Great Newman Center.
Talamini was a six-time AFL All-Star selection for Houston, helping the Oilers win championships in the league's first two seasons after being drafted in 1959 out of Kentucky. He finished his career by playing one season with New York, helping Joe Namath and the Jets win the franchise's first — and still only — Super Bowl.
“Without Talamini, we don't win," Namath told The Associated Press in an interview last year. “Maybe we don't even get there. But we don't win without Bob Talamini.”
Talamini was born Jan. 8, 1939, in Louisville, Kentucky, where he became a football standout at Xavier High School before playing at Kentucky. He was among the first draft picks in the Oilers' history and quickly established himself as a dependable and durable blocker while anchoring a line in front of a pair of future Pro Football Hall of Famers in quarterback George Blanda and halfback Billy Cannon.
Talamini, an All-AFL First Team selection three times with the Oilers, asked for his release following the 1967 season after being denied a request for a new contract. His playing career appeared uncertain until the Jets sent a third-round draft pick to the Oilers to acquire Talamini.
“The first day I saw Bob Talamini, he came to training camp which was in late-July or early August, and we're going to play our first exhibition game and we're loading up the buses and he comes out with a turtleneck sweater on,” Namath said with a laugh. "I just couldn't believe it. It was like 90, 95 degrees and he made that turtleneck look like a mock turtle because he had no neck.
“He was just shoulders and a short neck — and a bull of a guy.”
Talamini played in every game for the Jets during the 1968 season and started at left guard during the Super Bowl against the Baltimore Colts — a 16-7 victory powered by the offensive line and New York's running game, which rolled up 142 yards rushing.
“He was one of the best-kept secrets for us,” Namath said. “And Talamini hasn't gotten a lot of recognition for what he did that year.”
Talamini's playing career ended with the Super Bowl win and he worked in the financial consulting business for several years after football. He also served as president of the Houston Touchdown Club and president of the NFL Alumni Association.
Talamini is survived by his wife Mary Will, children Robin, Bob Jr., Tina, Tony, John, Juliana, and Migne’, 14 grandchildren, 10 great-grandchildren, sister Nancy Ratterman and first wife Charlene Talamini Legler.