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These AFL Team pages were salvaged from the defunct site aflfootball.tripod.com, which inspired my AFL pages.
They are dedicated to that site's creator, Robert Phillips, who has re-created his site at afl-football.50.webs.com.

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TITANS OF NEW YORK
NEW YORK JETS

The history of the New York franchise in the American Football League is the story of two distinct organizations, the Titans and the Jets. Interlocking the two in continuity is the player personnel which went with the franchise in the ownership change from Harry Wismer to a five-man group headed by David "Sonny" Werblin in February, 1963. The three-year reign of Wismer, who was granted a charter AFL franchise in 1959, was fraught with controversy.

The on-the-field happenings of the Titans were often overlooked, even in victory, as Wismer moved from feud to feud with the thoughtlessness of one playing Russian roulette with all chambers loaded. In spite of it all, the Titans had reasonable success on the field but they were a box office disaster. Werblin's group purchased the bankrupt franchise for $1,000,000, changed the team name to Jets and hired Weeb Ewbank as head coach. In 1964, the Jets moved from the antiquated Polo Grounds to newly-constructed Shea Stadium, where the Jets set an AFL attendance mark of 45,665 in the season opener against the Denver Broncos.

Ewbank, who had enjoyed championship success with the Baltimore Colts in the 1950s, patiently began a building program that received a major transfusion on January 2, 1965, when Werblin signed Alabama quarterback Joe Namath to a rumored $400,000 contract. The signing of the highly-regarded Namath proved to be a major factor in the eventual end of the AFL-NFL pro football war of the 1960s.

The 1968 season was the culmination of the New York AFL hopes as the Jets, under the guidance of Ewbank and the play of Namath, Don Maynard and a host of other major contributors, raced to the AFL East title with an 11-3 record. They defeated the Oakland Raiders 27-23 in the AFL championship and then stunned the entire sports world with a 16-7 victory over the overwhelmingly-favored Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III. It is considered to be one of the two most pivotal games ever in the building of fan enthusiasm for pro football.

The Jets won the AFL East again in 1969 but lost to Kansas City in a first-round playoff game. Through it all, the Jets have maintained an excellent attendance record. They have not fallen below an average-per-game attendance of 54,051 since 1964, their second season in Shea Stadium.

Coach Ewbank in 1978 and two players in the 1980s, all of whom stand out in Jets history, have been elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Namath was elected in 1985 and Maynard in 1987.

Titans/Jets Facts

  • Franchise Granted:
    August 14, 1959 as the New York Titans and Charter Member of AFL
  • First Season:
    1960
  • Changed nickname to Jets:
    1963
  • Stadiums:
    Polo Grounds, Shea Stadium
  • Head Coaches:
    Sammy Baugh, Bulldog Turner, Weeb Ewbank
  • Super Bowl Championship:
    III
  • AFL Championship:
    1968
  • AFL Eastern Division Championships:
    1968, 1969
  • All-Time AFL Record:
    71- 66-6
  • Retired Uniform Numbers:
    #12 Joe Namath, #13 Don Maynard

Titans/Jets' Historical Performance

REGULAR SEASON
YEAR GP W L T PF PA PCT. HEAD COACH
1960* 14 7 7 0 382 399 0.500    Sammy Baugh
1961* 14 7 7 0 301 390 0.500    Sammy Baugh
1962* 14 5 9 0 278 423 0.357    Bulldog Turner
1963 14 5 8 1 299 399 0.393    Weeb Ewbank
1964 14 5 8 1 278 315 0.393    Weeb Ewbank
1965 14 5 8 1 285 303 0.393    Weeb Ewbank
1966 14 6 6 2 322 312 0.500    Weeb Ewbank
1967 14 8 5 1 371 329 0.607    Weeb Ewbank
1968 14 11 3 0 419 280 0.786    Weeb Ewbank
1969 14 10 4 0 353 269 0.714    Weeb Ewbank

Titans/Jets Totals 140 69 66 5 3288 3419 0.511  
* - New York Titans

 
POSTSEASON
YEAR W L PCT. RESULT
1968 2 0 1.000 AFL AND SUPER BOWL CHAMPIONS
1969 0 1 0.000 LOST AFL DIVISIONAL PLAYOFF

Firsts, Records, and Odds and Ends

  • First Regular-Season Game:
    A 27-3 victory over the Buffalo Bills, 9/11/60.
  • Team's Original Name:
    The New York Titans (1960-62).
  • First Player to Sign a Contract:
    Don Maynard was the first to sign with the Titans, 1960.
  • First All-League Selection:
    Bob Mischak, 1960 All-AFL.
  • First Winning Season:
    1967 (8-5-1).
  • First Playoff Appearance:
    A 27-23 victory over the Oakland Raiders in the AFL Championship game, 12/29/68.
  • First Super Bowl Appearance:
    A 16-7 victory over the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III, 1/12/69.
  • First Jet Elected to the Hall of Fame:
    Coach Weeb Ewbank, 1978.
  • First to Pass 400 Yards in a Game:
    Joe Namath, 415 yards vs the Miami Dolphins, 10/1/67.
  • Most Yards Passing, Career:
    Joe Namath, 27,057 yards (1965-76).
  • Most Receptions, Career :
    Don Maynard, 627 receptions (1960-72).
  • Longest Punt:
    Steve O'Neal's 98-yard punt vs. the Denver Broncos on 9/21/69, is an AFL record.
Copyright 1997-2004 Robert Phillips. All rights reserved.

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USA Today ~ August 4, 2009

AFL memories: Broadway Joe etched league's place in lore
Joe Namath famously guaranteed victory before the Jets stunned the Colts and notched the AFL's first Super Bowl victory in the game's third installment.
1969 AP photo
Joe Namath famously guaranteed victory before the Jets stunned the Colts and notched the AFL's first Super Bowl victory in the game's third installment.
 

ABOUT THE AFL SERIES

USA TODAY will celebrate the American Football League's 50th anniversary this summer with a series of retrospectives.

THE AFL, 50 YEARS LATER

 
Eighth in a series exploring the histories of all 10 AFL franchises as the NFL celebrates the league's 50th anniversary. See the full series.

For fans who embraced the New York Titans' debut in 1960 as part of the fledgling American Football League and the team's transformation into the Jets three years later, there is one game to cling to in an otherwise bleak history.

But what a game it was.

The Jets' 16-7 conquest of the NFL's Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III to close the 1968 season ranks among the most meaningful upsets in sports history. It forever altered the pro football landscape and legitimized the AFL's merger with the NFL in 1970.

"I think if we had lost, there might not have even been a merger," says Gerry Philbin, who played defensive end for the Jets from 1964 to 1972. And even though the AFL and NFL agreed in 1966 to ultimately join forces, Philbin maintains the Jets' landmark victory "secured television rights, advertisements, everything."

The Jets not only successfully backed up quarterback Joe Namath's guarantee of victory against the powerhouse Colts — whose 13-1 regular-season record had them mentioned as an all-time NFL team before Super Bowl III — but New York also accomplished it with surprising authority, defeating an 18-point favorite coached by Don Shula and quarterbacked by 1968 NFL MVP Earl Morrall.

"We were ridiculed and deemed as being inferior athletes to the glorified NFL," former Jets cornerback John Dockery says. "To come out and stuff them and prove something was a huge part of the celebration."

Namath, who keeps a low profile these days and did not respond to USA TODAY's requests for an interview, uttered the words that sealed his legend three days before the title clash with the Colts. "You can be the greatest athlete in the world, but if you don't win these football games, it doesn't mean anything," he said at a dinner hosted by the Miami Touchdown Club. "And we're going to win Sunday, I guarantee you."

Namath told Gerald Eskenazi, author of Gang Green, a book that chronicles the Jets' history: "I didn't plan on stirring up anything. Hey, (coach Weeb Ewbank) had told me to keep my big mouth shut. That week at poolside, I had told a bunch of reporters that half a dozen AFL quarterbacks were better than Morrall. That drove Shula nuts. It didn't do Weeb any good, either. Anyway, at the dinner I accepted an award, and we got into a discussion of the game coming up. I said I was angry we were such underdogs. I was tired of answering questions about the big, bad Colts. I thought it was ridiculous they were 18-point favorites."

And so he uttered one of the most famous guarantees in history.

Fans reacted with disbelief.

The NFL's Green Bay Packers had crushed the AFL's Kansas City Chiefs and Oakland Raiders in the first two Super Bowls. On paper, it appeared to oddsmakers that the Jets had no business sharing the field with the Colts at the Orange Bowl in Miami.

But the Big Apple's underdogs saw it very differently.

"We didn't cringe, because we had been watching film of Baltimore all week long," says wide receiver Don Maynard, an original member of the Titans and the only player besides Namath to play most of his career with the Jets and reach the Hall of Fame. "We had a great offensive line. Our defense was unbelievable, and we had a passing game that was as good as anybody will ever play."

Dockery remembers tight end Pete Lammons urging Ewbank, "You'd better turn off the film, because we're going to get overconfident. We can run on these guys. We can throw on these guys."

Ewbank was furious when Namath publicly voiced the cockiness that pervaded the locker room.

"I remember going to a meeting the next day, and Weeb was pacing back and forth, and you knew he was agitated," Dockery says. "Weeb was beside himself. Why did anybody say anything to agitate this team? Why guarantee a game of this magnitude?"

But that was what made Namath "Broadway Joe." And it helped to explain why teammates gravitated to him and eagerly followed his lead.

"For him to guarantee it gave ripples of confidence," Dockery says. "OK, he believes it. We believe it, and we can do it."

The Jets excelled in every aspect of the matchup. Namath, the Super Bowl MVP, hit 17 of 28 passes for 206 yards. Matt Snell rushed for 121 yards and a second-quarter touchdown. Defensive back Randy Beverly produced two of the four interceptions vs. Baltimore.

David A. "Sonny" Werblin, who led an ownership group that replaced founder Harry Wismer after Wismer could no longer pay the bills, sure knew what he was doing when Namath was selected first overall in the AFL's 1965 draft and signed a record three-year, $427,000 contract that included a new blue Lincoln Continental.

Namath displayed uncommon confidence from the moment he signed. As the quarterback sat with a number of reporters at Toots Shor's as part of his introductory news conference, The New York Times' Dave Anderson recalls one of them suggested to the youngster from Beaver Falls, Pa., that he might not succeed.

Namath, according to Anderson, looked the questioner in the eye and replied in a low, even voice, "I'll make it."

The famed passer from the University of Alabama required surgery on a severely damaged right knee 23 days after he signed, and he was so gimpy-legged that fans held their breath every time he went down, but he made it, all right.

He came along at the perfect time for his team and his league. With his white shoes, long hair and Fu Manchu mustache — and with a swagger he backed up game after game — Namath was very much a man for the anti-establishment 1960s.

"He was the playboy of the decade," Anderson says. "The girls would go (to Namath's bar) hoping to attach themselves to him."

Even today, Namath remains the most recognizable face of a franchise that has often lacked star power. Despite his nocturnal activities, he emerged as the AFL's rookie of the year in 1965. Two years later, he became the first quarterback in AFL or NFL history to throw for more than 4,000 yards while leading the Jets to their first winning season at 8-5-1.

Other than Namath and the 1968 Super Bowl III team, the AFL Jets were more infamous than famous. Because they were second-class citizens to the Mets at Shea Stadium, they sometimes practiced in front of prison inmates at Rikers Island. Tales abound of kicker Jim Turner practicing field goals by aiming between trees at Flushing Meadow Park.

Then there was the "Heidi Game." NBC broke away from the Jets' 1968 visit to Oakland to televise Heidi, a movie about a girl in the Swiss Alps, after Turner's field goal gave New York a 32-29 lead with 65 seconds left. The network's decision-makers never imagined that the Raiders would score two TDs nine seconds apart and win 43-32.

NBC apologized to angry viewers for "a forgivable error committed by humans who were concerned with the children."

Even at their worst moment, the AFL's Jets were unforgettable.

          Rarely mentioned is the effect the Jets' win had on loyal American Football League fans. Once their own teams were eliminated, AFL fans got behind the Jets as if we were all New York fans.  The Jets, with Maynard, Larry Grantham and Bill Mathis still on the team as original Titans, and most of their stars developed long before the 'Common Draft', were an AFL team.  That was good enough for millions of fans around the country to cheer them on.  Their victory over 'the best team in NFL histiory' validated the AFL fans' conviction that the AFL was, and had long been Major League Professional Football.  As an example of that loyalty to the league, when the Jets arrived in Buffalo for their first game against the Bills in 1969, hundreds of Bills fans greeted them at the Buffalo airport.  And when the Jets ran out of the visitors' tunnel at the 'Rockpile' before the game, they got a standing ovation: from the Bills fans!! 
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REMEMBER the AFL

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USA TODAY Series on the AFL:  

  How the AFL changed the NFL
   Boston Patriots
   Miami Dolphins
     CincinNati Bengals
    Denver Broncos
     Los Angeles/San Diego CHARGERS
    OAKLAND RAIDERS
     Dallas Texans/Kansas City Chiefs
    BUFFALO BILLS
    HOUSTON OILERS

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Last revision: 20 July 2012 ~ Angelo F. Coniglio, nospam.RemembertheAFL@aol.com