New York Jets assistant coach Greg Knapp, who has tutored some of football’s most noted quarterbacks, died Thursday following a bicycle crash last week, his agent confirmed to NBC News.
Knapp, 58, was an avid cyclist who was riding on Saturday in Northern California when a motorist swerved into the bike lane and hit the veteran coach in San Ramon, his agent Jeff Sperbeck said Tuesday.
He never regained consciousness and died Thursday surrounded by his wife, three daughters, mother and brother.
“Greg’s infectious personality is most people’s first and lasting memory of him,” Sperbeck said in a statement. “The phrase ‘he never met a stranger’ encapsulates Knapper’s zest for life. He had a unique gift to make everyone feel special, and to Knapper, they all were.”
This upcoming season would have been Knapp’s first with the Jets. He and new head coach Robert Saleh were hired in January amid a staff shakeup in the hopes of ending the franchise’s five consecutive losing years.
Knapp, the team’s passing game specialist, was set to coach rookie quarterback Zach Wilson, a BYU prodigy selected by the Jets with the second overall pick of this past NFL Draft.
Knapp has been a fixture on NFL coaching staffs for the past 25 years, serving as quarterbacks coach or offensive coordinator for some of the league’s most well-known passing attacks.
He served as quarterbacks coach with the Atlanta Falcons, working alongside four-time Pro Bowl signal caller Matt Ryan for the past three seasons.
Before coming to Atlanta, Knapp was the quarterbacks coach/passing game coordinator with the Denver Broncos, where he worked with Peyton Manning. Knapp’s three-season stint in Denver included the Broncos’ victory in Super Bowl 50.
Brandon McManus, kicker for the Broncos, tweeted in mourning of Knapp on Thursday, calling the coach an “awesome” person.
“RIP Coach Greg Knapp. Always enjoyed our conversations on and off the field,” McManus said.
Sacramento State head coach Troy Taylor said the school was “heartbroken” over the news, recalling Knapp’s history as a Hornet.
“Greg was not only a great former Hornet player and coach, but one of the kindest and most generous people that I’ve ever known,” Taylor said in a statement Thursday. “His success and humility have been an inspiration to all of us here at Sacramento State. We will continue to carry on his legacy within our football program and wish his family and friends peace and comfort through this difficult loss.”
Knapp began attending Sacramento State in the fall of 1983, where he played as their quarterback and is ranked eighth in school history in career passing yards, the university said.
The Las Vegas Raiders, where Knapp was an offensive coordinator when the team was still based in Oakland, were “saddened and stunned” to hear of his death.
“The thoughts and prayers of the entire Raider Nation are with Coach Knapp’s family during this extremely difficult time,” the team said.
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