Matt Snell (born August 18, 1941) is a retired professional football player who played for the New York Jets. He was Jets' owner Sonny Werblin's first coup, prior to his 1965 acquisition of Joe Namath. A powerful fullback out of Ohio State University, Snell's 1964 signing jolted the crosstown Giants, who didn't draft Snell until the fourth round, and offered him a fraction of what the Jets gave him as their first-round choice.
Snell currently lives in New Rochelle, New York with his wife Sharon, son Beau and daughter Jada. His grandson Donte is currently the starting safety for Holy Cross High School. He is a partner in DEFCO Securities, Inc. and owns a restaurant in New York City.
Snell attended Carle Place High School in the one-square-mile town of Carle Place, New York, where his picture resides in the Carle Place High School Athletic Hall of Fame. Snell played right halfback on a team that only lost two games while he started. He was awarded Newsday's Thorp Award for 1959 as the outstanding high school football player in Nassau County.
At Ohio State University, Snell was a three-year starter and a consummate team player, active on both sides of the ball. In 1961, he played right halfback, often blocking for fullback Bob Ferguson or left halfback Paul Warfield. In 1962, Snell was moved to defensive end. In 1963, Snell's senior year, he was named starting fullback. At the end of his senior season, Snell was named his team's most valuable player.
Snell was named to the Ohio State Football All-Century Team in 2000 as a defensive end.
In his rookie year with the New York Jets, Snell rushed for a team-record 180 yards against the Houston Oilers on his way to a 945-yard season and AFL Rookie of the Year honors. Snell went on to become an AFL Eastern Division All-Star in 1964 and 1966, and the Sporting News All-AFL fullback in 1969.
Snell's defining moment came in Super Bowl III when the AFL champion Jets played the heavily favored NFL champion Baltimore Colts. Although slowed by knee injuries, Snell was a key player in the Jets' ball-control offense during the 16-7 upset victory. He carried the ball 30 times for a then-Super Bowl record 121 yards, and in the second quarter went four yards around left end to score the Jets' only touchdown, a score that marked the first time an AFL team had led in a Super Bowl. He also helped set up a trio of Jim Turner field goals that finally put the game away for the Jets in the second half, securing the AFL's first Super Bowl win in the league's penultimate season.
During his career, Snell was well known for his rushing, but also became an important part of the Jets' pass-blocking scheme. Toward the end of his career, Snell became one of the first third-down specialty backs, primarily because he was so good at protecting Joe Namath. He was also reported to have helped teach pass-blocking to Jets running backs during his career.
In 1973, Snell appeared in the first Miller Lite beer commercial. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, "The campaign would feature a collection of middle-aged sports stars and become something of a status symbol for retired athletes for the next 17 years."
Snell and Emerson Boozer were inducted into the Jets' Ring of Honor on November 29, 2015 because they were partners in each other's success and that of the team. Snell has not accepted the Jets' invitation to participate in the ceremony at MetLife Stadium, just as he consistently has refused the club's invitations to other alumni events for unspecified reasons ever since he retired.