Jets assistant Knapp dies of injuries from bicycle accident

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FILE – A 2019 file photo shows Greg Knapp of the Atlanta Falcons NFL football team. Knapp, an assistant coach with the New York Jets, died Thursday, July 22, 2021, of injuries suffered in a bicycle accident near his home in California last Saturday. He was 58. Knapp’s family released a statement through the team that the longtime NFL assistant coach had died. (AP Photo/File)

NEW YORK (AP) — New York Jets assistant coach Greg Knapp died Thursday of injuries suffered in a bicycle accident near his home in California last Saturday. He was 58.

Knapp’s family released a statement through the team that the longtime NFL assistant coach died at 2:32 p.m. EDT.

“Greg Knapp (aka Knapper) was called back home to Heaven, where he will be reunited with his Dad,” the statement said.

The family said in the statement that Knapp was struck by a car while riding his bicycle in the city of San Ramon in the San Francisco Bay Area and never regained consciousness.

He was surrounded by his mother, wife, three daughters and his brother when he died.

“Greg’s infectious personality is most people’s first and lasting memory of him,” the family said. “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.

“While his family, friends and players still had so much to learn from him and desperately wished they had more time with him, God called an audible and wanted to go over the game plan directly with him. It will certainly be a masterpiece, just like Greg!”

Knapp, who lived in Danville, California, was hired by the Jets in January as part of new coach Robert Saleh’s staff, serving as the passing game specialist. Among Knapp’s primary roles was to help develop quarterback Zach Wilson, the No. 2 overall draft pick.

“The loss of a loved one is always a challenge but is harder when it is completely unexpected,” Saleh said in a statement issued by the team. “Charlotte, Jordan, Natalie, and Camille please accept our most sincere condolences. Greg had such an inner peace about him that people always seemed to gravitate towards. He lived life in a loving way that helped him connect with people from all walks of life in a unique way. In his short time here, I believe the people in this organization had a chance to experience that connection. Greg, thank you for all that you have shared with us, you will be missed, brother.”

Knapp was well-liked and respected in NFL circles and he had established himself as one of the league’s top offensive-minded coaches. After a nine-year stint as an assistant at Sacramento State, where he also played quarterback, Knapp got his first NFL job with San Francisco in 1997 as an offensive quality control coach under Steve Mariucci. He was promoted to quarterbacks coach two years later and became the 49ers’ offensive coordinator in 2001.

Knapp joined Jim Mora’s staff in Atlanta as the offensive coordinator in 2004, and served in the same capacity for Oakland (2007-08 and 2012) and Seattle (2009). He also had stints as the quarterbacks coach for Houston (2010-11), Denver (2013-16) — where he helped Peyton Manning set single-season passing records in 2013 — and most recently the Falcons (2018-20).

“His legacy is not only working with some of the brightest quarterbacks the league has ever seen, but the countless others across this world he has had an indelibly positive influence on,” Jets chairman Woody Johnson said in a statement.

Knapp had been expected to have a key role in helping offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur and quarterbacks coach Rob Calabrese teach and develop Wilson as the 21-year-old QB adjusts to NFL life as the likely starter for the Jets this season.


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