Jim Sweeney Cause Of Death: Jackie Sherrill, a former Pitt coach, still remembers the first time he met Jim Sweeney, even though they first met when he was 78. Sherrill recalls talking to a Seton LaSalle High School student who he thought was “too damn little” to block for the Panthers in the Sweeney family’s living room during a stretch when he and assistant Joe Moore seemed able to make any offensive line prospect they’d find into an elite level player.
Over the phone on Sunday, Moore convinced Sherrill to give the Beechview native a scholarship, and Sherrill informed the Post-Gazette that he did so, thanks to Moore’s persuasiveness. He had no idea that the 215-pound high school senior he had just spoken with that night would become a star at Pitt, have a 16-year NFL career (the final four with the Steelers), and spend a good chunk of his career as an assistant coach.
The New York Jets confirmed on Sunday that Sweeney had passed away on Saturday at the age of 60. Sweeney spent 11 seasons as an offensive lineman for that NFL franchise. As far as the Jets know, neither the reason nor location of death was disclosed. Sunday, October 2, 2022, at Acrisure Stadium, Jets quarterback Zach Wilson and wide receiver Elijah Moore celebrate a touchdown in the second quarter against the Steelers.
That was a terrible football weekend at Acrisure Stadium, Joe Starkey. Those who knew him well were quick to spread the word about his admirable qualities as word of his reputation spread. Sherrill remarked that he was a man of few words. “He was always very respectful, so you never saw him in trouble. When it came to playing the game, he was unflinching.
We’re saddened to learn of the passing of former UAlbany Coach Jim Sweeney.
A great man on and off the field, Coach Sweeney will be dearly missed.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the Sweeney family. pic.twitter.com/bLWmKlyUnY
— UAlbany Football (@UAlbanyFootball) October 3, 2022
On the first day of practice, he established himself as someone worthy of his teammates’ respect. He was a tough-as-nails kid from Western Pennsylvania. When Sweeney was a senior at Pitt, he was the trusted center for Dan Marino, who would become a Pro Football Hall of Famer. Pat Narduzzi “is an amazing all-timer,” according to a message shared on social media. Not just at Pitt but also in the WPIAL and the pros.
With his impressive collegiate resume, the New York Jets picked him up in the second round of the 1984 NFL draft. During his 11 years in New York, Sweeney made 158 consecutive starts after breaking into the starting lineup as a rookie. After the 1994 season, he left the Jets to play for the Seattle Seahawks for a single year. Later in his career, from 1996 to 1999, the “Western Pennsylvania youngster” would play for the Pittsburgh Steelers, his local team.
Sweeney finished his career,r having appeared in 228 games (176 of which he started). Third quarter on Sunday, October 2, 2022, at Acrisure Stadium, Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett releases a pass against the Jets. The grade the Steelers received from Ray Fittipaldo: Everyone performs poorly when losing to the Jets. Sherrill remarked, “That’s pretty damn good for a 215-pound senior in high school.”
For three years after retiring from playing in 1999, Sweeney coached with his longtime buddy and teammate Greg Gattuso at Duquesne. They gained notoriety in 1979 for guiding Seton LaSalle to its first WPIAL football title before collaborating on game preparations. Gattuso told the Post-Gazette on Sunday night, “We always used to joke that we were in rival kindergartens.” We became close friends in first grade and have stayed that way ever since.
While Sweeney remained in the area to play for Pitt, Gattuso opted to play for Penn State. Even though they went in different directions in football after college, they stayed in touch. After his tenure with them at Duquesne ended, Sweeney took an assistant coaching position at both the Peters Township and South Fayette high schools.
Eventually, in 2021, his football career would end, but he reunited with Gattuso on the University of Albany sidelines in 2014. According to Albany’s head coach, Sweeney was a dedicated family man in addition to being a great player and assistant.
Gattuso remarked, “He was extraordinary in every way.” Faith, family, and friends were the three most essential things in his life. It seemed like he was on everyone’s side. The way he conducted his life was an expression of his beliefs.
Gattuso elaborated by saying that for Sweeney, the concept of the family went beyond blood ties. He stressed that family was his top priority. “When we hired a new, youthful coach, they often stayed with Sweeney for a while. That was his nature. Sweeney leaves behind his wife Julie and their five children,n Shannon, Liam, Aislinn, Kilian, and Teagan.
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