In today’s episode of Football is Family, we are going to East Rutherford, New Jersey, and look at the New York J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Jets. I have to say this – the Jets have a very passionate and loyal fan base.
One of my favorite parts about the NFL draft is watching the Jets’ fans’ reaction when their team makes a pick (example- Kyle Brady in 1995). That’s a fan base who loves their team.
We also have a special guest, Dan Edwards, the Senior Vice President of Communications of the Jaguars.
This article is also a podcast over at the Football Is Family if you are interested in listening, you can do so below. You can also read the full article if this is your preference.
Table of Contents
FOOTBALL IS FAMILY
Every Thursday, host Jeremy McFarlin shares the history of one NFL team. He also brings on a guest (or more) each week to share why their NFL team feels like a part of their family.
New York Jets : From the Beginning
The Jets were founded in 1959 as part of the Foolish Club (the AFL teams who went up against the NFL teams). Originally, the Jets were known as the New York Titans. The Titans were between a rock and a hard place when they began playing.
First, they were owned by a man named Harry Wismer. He was a wealthy man, but nowhere near wealthy enough to afford to lose the amount of money he did over the first few years of the team (Wismer said he lost 1.2 million his first year). There were times when people who worked for the Jets had to rush to the bank to withdraw their paycheck before it bounced.
Second, they began playing at the Polo Grounds. This stadium was originally built in 1880. When the Titans began playing, the stadium was 80 years old. As you can tell by the name, this stadium wasn’t built for football. The Titans didn’t draw many fans, to begin with- coupled with the stadium and you have a bad situation for the Titans to be profitable.
Finally, the city of New York was a Giants city. The New York Football Giants had been established for many years at that point.
It is hard for a new team to come into their own when they have an established “giant” in their way.
Two big events turned the Titans around. First, the Titans were sold off to a group headed by Sonny Werblin. Mr. Werblin would be the one who would change the team’s name to the Jets (due to JFK and LaGuardia airports close by). Second, the Jets drafted a man by the name of Willie Joe Namath.
Joe Namath really did turn the team around. His presence alone helped make the Jets a household name. A little back story to how the Jets got Joe Namath. At the end of the AFL season in 1963, the Houston Oilers had the worst record in the league, which meant they would have the number 1 pick. Everyone knew that Namath would be that pick. The problem was Joe had the choice of playing for the NFL. Houston felt that they couldn’t sign Joe. They worked out a deal with the Jets, who signed Namath for a 3 year, $427,000 contract (along with a convertible).
Of course, we are all familiar with the Guarantee. Namath guaranteed that the Jets would beat the highly favored Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl 3. The Jets did win 16-7. One of the most iconic scenes in football history is watching Namath run off the field holding his index finger in the air- classic NFL.
The Jets have made the AFC championship game two years in a roll (2009-2010), and have made the playoffs 6 times in the 2000s. Overall, the Jets record is 408 wins, 500 losses, with 8 ties in the regular season, and 12 wins and 13 losses in the playoffs. They have an impressive 17 people represented in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Their current owner is Woody Johnson.
Jets Trivia– First overall draft pick- George Izo, quarterback from Norte Dame. The Titans (Jets) played their fourth game against the Dallas Texans. During this game, a last-second play was blocked out by the NY ABC station, who switched over to the Davy Crockett Special (this game happened before the Heidi game).
Clayton Trutor Bio
Clayton Trutor is a history instructor at Northeastern University’s College of Professional Studies. He is also a PhD candidate in US History at Boston College. He has participated in SABR’s Biography Project since 2012. He is a staff writer for “Down the Drive,” SB Nation’s University of Cincinnati athletics website. You can follow him on twitter @ClaytonTrutor.
Note – This bio was pulled from the SABR Website
You can also hear Clayton interviewed on The Football History Dude podcast covering his favorite football history books.