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Richard Caster, three-time Pro Bowler and favorite target of Joe Namath, dies at 75

Richard Caster, shown in 1971, was selected for three Pro Bowls during his 13-year NFL career.Harry Harris/Associated Press

Former New York Jets tight end and wide receiver Richard Caster, who was selected for three Pro Bowls during his 13-year NFL career, has died. He was 75.

Family representative Kenny Zore confirmed Mr. Caster died in his sleep on Friday morning on Long Island, N.Y., after a long illness.

Mr. Caster, a second-round pick of the Jets in 1970 out of Jackson State, caught 322 passes for 5,515 yards and 45 touchdowns during his NFL career.

He spent his first eight seasons with New York and became a favorite target of Joe Namath. The 6-foot-5, 228-pound Caster entered the league as a wide receiver who ran a 4.5 40-yard dash but was later switched to tight end by coach Weeb Ewbank because of his combination of size and speed.

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“The general approach from most teams defensively was to try to cover the tight end with a linebacker,” Mr. Caster recalled in an interview with the Jets’ website in 2018. “And I could outrun most linebackers or any linebacker that I ever ran into, really.”

Mr. Caster made all three of his Pro Bowls with the Jets, with selections during the 1972, ‘74, and ‘75 seasons. His 4,434 yards receiving with New York rank 10th on the franchise’s career list.

In Week 2 of the 1972 season, Mr. Caster caught three of Namath’s six touchdown passes and finished with six receptions for 204 yards in New York’s 44-34 victory over Johnny Unitas and the Baltimore Colts. Mr. Caster set career highs with 833 yards receiving and 10 touchdowns during that season. He had a personal-best 47 receptions in 1975.

He later played three years in Houston before splitting the 1981 season with New Orleans and Washington. He played in one game for the Washington team that won the Super Bowl to cap the 1982 season.

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“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,” Mr. Caster told the Jets’ website. “When I came in, I think it was somewhere around two, 2½ years.”

He leaves his wife, Susan; sons Richard J. Caster, Max Caster and Sean Caster; daughters Shannon Myla and Alona Nicole; and five grandchildren. Max is a professional wrestler.