Background and college
Snell was born August 18, 1941 in Garfield, Georgia. He graduated from Carle Place High School, New York. At Ohio State, Snell was a three-year starter and a consummate team player. In 1961 he was a right halfback, with responsibilities typically of blocking for fullback Bob Ferguson or left halfback Paul Warfield. In 1962 he was moved to defensive end. In 1963, his senior year, he was named starting fullback, making him the featured running back in the Ohio State offense. At the end of his senior season, Snell was named his team's most valuable player. Snell was named to the Ohio State Football All-Century Team in 2000, as a defensive end.
As a Jet
Snell was actually drafted by both New York teams. In the 1964 AFL Draft, the Jets made him the third overall pick, however the Giants drafted Snell in the fourth round, and offered a fraction of what the Jets gave him as their first-round choice. Snell quickly signed for the Jets and it immediately paid off. In his rookie year, he rushed for a Jets record 180 yards against the Oilers, on his way to a 945-yard season and American Football League Rookie of the Year honors.Super Bowl III), when the AFL Champion Jets played the 1968 NFL Champion Baltimore Colts. The Jets received the ball first, and on their second play from scrimmage, Snell slammed into Colts safety Rick Volk, touted as one of the toughest tacklers in the NFL. "When Rick hits you," said Colts head coach Don Shula, "you might not get up." This time it was Volk who did not get up, and Snell was the key player in the Jets ball-control offense in the 16-7 upset of the Colts. Although slowed by knee injuries, Snell carried 30 times for 121 yards. In the second quarter, he went 4 yards around the left end to score the Jets only touchdown. It was his sixth carry on an 80 yard drive. He also helped set up 3 Jim Turner field goals that finally put the game away for the Jets in the second half. In 1970 Snell had his best start to a season, with 281 yards in his first 3 games, when he ruptured his Achilles tendon, putting him out for the season. 1971 was no better, injured in the pre-season, Snell did not carry the ball from scrimmage at all and only was active for five games. In 1972, Snell only appeared in four games, and only touched the ball once, on a kickoff return.
Head coach Weeb Ewbank called Snell the "complete ballplayer" and calimed he was "the best pass protector in football".
After the NFL
In 1973 Snell was in the first Miller Lite beer commercial. According to the SF Chronicle, "The campaign would feature a collection of middle-aged sports stars and become something of a status symbol for retired athletes for the next 17 years. Also that year, Snell became a partner in Defco Securities Inc, a position he held for a number of years before switching to construction. In the early 1980's he founded SCI Construction Ltd.