Rich Caster, the triple Pro Bowler and longtime New York Jets Player who went on to win a Super Bowl with the Washington Redskins, passed away at 75 after a long battle with an illness, his family announced last week.
Caster died in his sleep last Friday at his Long Island home, his family told Fox News. The Clarion-Ledger, a local paper, previously reported that Caster was struggling with the effects of Parkinson’s disease in his later years.
Fresh out of Jackson State, Caster signed with the Jets in the second round of the NFL draft, continuing his role as a key tight-end wide receiver for eight seasons.
“The general approach from most teams defensively was to try to cover the tight end with a linebacker,” Caster recalled in 2018 while discussing his playing philosophy. “And I could outrun most linebackers or any linebacker that I ever ran into, really. But it was pretty much not a secret. ‘OK, let’s see how this matches up, if it holds up.’ It didn’t hold up.”
“I ran away from most of the people that I had a chance to get away from. It was all around getting a good matchup.”
Despite playing only one regular season game with the Redskins in the 1982 season, Caster hung on for their Super Bowl victory, securing his spot among the greats. He credited his adaptability as a player to survive in the NFL over 13 grueling seasons.
“I’m most proud of being able to play as long as I did, getting 13 years in the league during a period where the career average was a heck of a lot less than 13,” Caster said. “When I came in, I think it was somewhere around two, 2 1/2 years. I was real proud of my ability to still have some talent where I was able to be traded and signed late in my career to bring some value to some teams.”
Following his playing years, Caster reinvented himself as a prep school coach for Rye Country Day and Greenwich Country Day in New York.
”I like coaching, teaching and working with young people,” Caster told the New York Times in a 1983 interview. ”The opportunity to do these things came along because both schools – Rye Country Day and Greenwich Country Day – were looking for someone to help them improve their minority enrollment and at the same time be an assistant coach. I just happen to fall into the mold.”
He credited the Jets with instituting a volunteer program that stoked his ambition to help youth on the gridiron while navigating their way to adulthood.
”We helped with some special functions – fund-raisers and awards dinners – at the Bronx Boys Club,” Caster said, ”and our involvement snowballed from there. I spearheaded a group that got some of the players to talk with the kids who were having special problems. It was an effort to get the kids off the street and into activities at the club.”
Caster is survived by his wife Susan, sons Richard J. Caster, Max Caster and Sean Caster, daughters Shannon Myla and Alona Nicole, and five grandchildren.